Vacation planning tends to focus on where you’ll go and the cool things you’ll see. But what happens if things don’t go according to plan? Preparing for some of the “what ifs” can be time well spent and may help bring peace of mind.
“We hope to be healthy on vacation and have everything go off without a hitch, but we’re not always that lucky,” said Dr. Amit Arwindekar,medical director at UnitedHealthcare Global. “Before you leave, think about what you’d do if you or someone you’re traveling with gets sick or is injured.”
Even if there aren’t health concerns, weather problems, airline delays and other unforeseen issues can mess up plans and turn vacations into costly nightmares. It all points to the importance of being prepared.
Here are five tips to think about to help minimize potential problems:
1. Protect against potential health issues. Consider a wellness checkup with a primary care doctor to talk about your travel plans and the possible need for vaccinations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers vaccination recommendations by country, along with their current travel health advisories.
2. Refill medications. It is a good idea to refill prescriptions before a big trip. When traveling by air, always pack medication in carry-on luggage in case your checked bags go missing. Also, be sure to check prescription drug restrictions for each country you’ll visit on an international trip to help avoid having your medications taken away upon arrival.
3. Tackle jet lag. Airline passengers can be hit by jet lag when passing across two or more time zones. This time-hopping can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating and stomach troubles. Drink plenty of water — before, during and after flights — to lessen the dehydrating effects of cabin air and soak up the sun during the day to help reset your body clock and promote better rest at night.
4. Stay active. Exercise can help to lower stress and improve mood, both of which are keys to an enjoyable vacation. Sightseeing by foot can help to keep you active, as can a digital fitness app that offers on-the-go exercise classes and relaxing meditation sessions. Making time for exercise may help promote a sense of routine amid a busy schedule and offset the effects of typical vacation indulgences.
5. Verify protection. Take time to go over your health insurance plan and confirm what it covers, especially when leaving the country. Some plans only offer network access to local health care professionals, and most insurance policies do not extend overseas. If that’s the case with your coverage, consider a travel medical plan with in-person and virtual care options. Think about adding trip cancellation coverage to help with expenses caused by family emergencies, travel delays and cancellations.
“As they say, plan for the worst while you hope for the best,” Dr. Arwindekar said. “It may help make it easier to relax before and during your time away — knowing you’re protected if you face a health crisis or other vacation complications.”
Worth noting: UnitedHealthcare Global recently enhanced its SafeTrip travel insurance products for vacationers, students studying abroad and people traveling for work or to volunteer. SafeTrip provides medical insurance and trip protection options for things like delays, cancellations and lost luggage. Additional resources include virtual care and 24/7 support for non-medical problems such as replacing lost or stolen passports, tickets or other travel documents. To learn more, visit UHCSafeTrip.com.