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Medical help

Medical help
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How to get healthcare while travelling

As a rule of thumb, if you would seek advice from a healthcare professional at home, then you should do so while travelling abroad.

In an emergency…

If you need to go to hospital, ask locally about contacting emergency services: your travel rep, tour guide or hotel should be able to help.

Remember that not all countries have an effective ambulance service. It may be faster and safer to make your own way to hospital.


For minor illnesses, care for yourself using your travel first aid kit, or get advice at a pharmacy. Take a break from your activities to rest up and delay travel if you need to. Treat your symptoms and take plenty of fluids, just as you would at home. Be aware that a flu-like illness in an area where malaria is endemic is a cause for concern and you should get it checked out.

If you are in any doubt about your ability to cope with a healthcare problem, no matter where you are in the world, always play it safe and take advice from a qualified medical professional.

Is there a doctor in the house?

Tell your hotel or holiday rep if you are ill or have had an accident. They can arrange an appointment with a local doctor and perhaps help you get there, too.

The nearest Canadian Government Office can give you a list of local medics and contact your next of kin if you need it, but they can’t pay for your healthcare. The Government of Canada has a list of Canadian government offices abroad.

Insurance helpline

Let your travel insurer know you are ill, too, in case you need to make a claim later or in case you need to delay travel. Many travel insurance packages include a medical helpline. It will give you access to a healthcare professional who can tell you whether you need to see a doctor. A phone consultation with an English-speaking nurse or doctor can be incredibly reassuring at what may be a distressing time, so if you have access to this service make use of it: you have paid-for it, after all!

Keep a record

You should keep hold of all receipts and any doctor’s notes. You will need these for an insurance claim; and your healthcare provider at home will want to see them, too.

It may sound odd, but it can be helpful to photograph an injury. Your healthcare provider in Canada may find a picture helps them to better understand how you are healing up.

What to take with you to a healthcare appointment abroad

Be sure to bring your travel insurance details with you to a healthcare appointment, and some means of paying for your care, either cash or a credit card. If you’re on any meds, bring those in their packets, and any prescriptions or doctor’s letters you are carrying.

Most healthcare professionals will do their utmost to help you out, even in the face of language differences, but you may wish to bring someone who can translate for you, or a phrase book.