June 1, 2020
Due to travel restrictions, plans are only available with travel dates on or after
Due to travel restrictions, plans are only available with effective start dates on or after
Ukraine; Belarus; Moldova, Republic of; (North) Korea, Democratic People's Rep; Russian Federation
Israel; Jamaica; Republic of Ireland; Northern Ireland;
No matter how luxurious or exotic your destination is, travelling when you’re sick is no fun. Not only can coughing fits, sinus headaches and other symptoms make muddling through airports and hotels tough, but stressful travel can actually exacerbate whatever plagues you.
And if your poor head isn’t already aching, just imagine getting on the phone to speak with the airlines’ customer service reps about trip cancellation and rebooking your travel. The hold music alone can make you tap out. Whether you’re sick before you pack your bags or you catch something abroad, not feeling 100 percent can force you to cancel or shift your travel plans, which can come at a tremendous cost and incredible inconvenience without travel insurance. Travel insurance is no cure-all, however; you always want to read your plan documents, so you understand what’s covered and what’s excluded.
Here is a look at what you can do to help prevent getting sick while traveling during cold and flu season, as well as how to handle falling ill when you’re about to travel or you’re already thousands of miles away from home.
Your trip is quickly approaching. And you feel great! That’s good news. But during cold and flu season, you may want to consider a few precautions to ensure that a trip cancellation is never even a consideration – and that you have a clean bill of health when you’re deplaning at your destination.
The severity of flu season, which generally runs from October to May and peaks between December and February, is too difficult for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to predict early on. The CDC does recommend that everyone 6 months and older receives the flu vaccine as soon as it’s available to them, ideally no later than October.1
There are some over-the-counter cold medicines and herbal products that claim to possess preventive health benefits – especially when travelling – but you’ll want to research these and ask your doctor about them. One well-known herbal remedy maker in particular was forced to settle a class action lawsuit for making such claims.2
That said, eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, washing your hands and carrying hand sanitizer, as well as making sure you have socks to walk through security, can all help you stave off colds or the flu before departure. Also, avoid sick people, which is easier said than done if they include your travel companions.
Drinking plenty of water is crucial, especially once you’re on a plane. That’s because plane cabins contain low humidity at high elevations. This effect can dry your nose and throat, which can invite airborne germs that mucus might have driven out.
If you’re someone who’s comfortable carrying antiseptic wipes to clean armrests and strapping on a facemask to combat airborne germs, then more power to you. You may fear looking silly, or as though you’re the sick one to be avoided, but these can be effective strategies.
Read more: The Best Travel Gear for Fighting Germs
If you’re under the weather with impending travel plans, you have two choices: persevering or cancelling your trip.
The Centers for Disease Control cautions people not to travel when they have a fever of 100 degrees F or greater paired with another condition, including rashes, weakness, difficulty breathing, severe coughs, confusion or vomiting.5 Your trip cancellation may be covered by your travel insurance policy if your illness is disabling enough to make a reasonable person cancel their trip, and if a doctor advises you to cancel your trip before you cancel it. (If this isn’t possible, a doctor must either examine or consult with you within 72 hours after the cancellation to confirm the decision to cancel.)
If you decide to stay the course, you can take over-the-counter medications to manage your symptoms, or see your primary care physician for something stronger. Flu sufferers may be prescribed anti-viral drugs, the sooner the better, and ideally within 48 hours of symptoms manifesting.iii Remember to pack all prescription medications in your carry-on luggage, as these can be difficult to replace overseas.
This is the worst-case scenario. You’re thousands of miles away from home, you don’t speak the native language, and there is nary a friend, family member or co-worker to help you out. You’re not just under the weather; you’re experiencing that can’t-get-out-of-bed type of sick that only hits once a decade.
This is when travel insurance with emergency medical and dental benefits becomes invaluable. If, while traveling, you experience a sudden, unexpected illness, injury, or medical condition that could cause serious harm if it is not treated, this benefit can reimburse the reasonable and customary costs of emergency medical care (up to the limits stated in your plan). It can also cover the costs of emergency care for a dental injury or infection, a lost filling, or a broken tooth (up to the limits stated in your plan). Allianz Global Assistance can also guarantee or advance payments, where accepted, if you’ll be hospitalized for more than 24 hours.
If your illness is so severe that you have to interrupt your travels or go home early, your trip interruption benefits can reimburse you for the part of your trip you didn’t get to take (the prorated portion of your unused, non-refundable trip costs). These benefits can also reimburse you for reasonable transportation expenses you incur to continue your trip or return home, or additional accommodation and transportation expenses, if the interruption causes you to stay at your destination longer than originally planned.
It’s one thing to have the sniffles or a lingering cold this time of year. But when you start showing symptoms of a severe cold or flu, it’s time to give your travel plans some careful consideration. Trip cancellation and interruption are never easy, but the right travel insurance plan can make life much less complicated when you’re sick and abroad.