As I write this I woke up from leaving the office early and sleeping for 2 and a half hours straight in the sunny afternoon. I was feeling unwell.
There are very few times that I have been sick when traveling, for that I have been extremely lucky – but for those times that I have been traveling long term (more than the two week vacations I took with my parents) I always made sure to have traveler’s insurance. Trust me, it’s one of those things that you will hopefully never need, but will miss horribly if something happens. It’s worth the 30 bucks for it. I’m sure we’ve all heard horror stories. My cousin had to get her appendix out when she was taking a semester abroad in Spain, when she wasn’t yet fluent in Spanish.
Luckily, her father – my uncle – is an ER doctor, and actually flew to Spain to see how things were going. But not everyone (let’s face it, most people) don’t know ER doctors who are willing to fly over an ocean to see how you’re feeling.
Like I said, I’ve been lucky enough that I haven’t been majorly ill when traveling. I didn’t have issues in India (even though nearly everyone else traveling with me did), or when I was traveling on my own around Europe.
Both of my “issues” happened when I was in China, and I hold no grudge against the country. The first was an illness – I had what felt like a brain-ripping sinus infection the day that I was traveling by train for 18 hours from where I worked to Suzhou. On a sitting train, not a sleeper. It was miserable, crowded and vaguely delirium-inducing. But I was sitting right near the hot water dispenser (and the bathroom, consequently) which helped relieve the pressure at least somewhat.
The other was later, when I was in Beijing. I think it was my-favorite Tony who said something along the lines of it’s when you eat at the hotel that you actually get sick. I wholeheartedly agree. The only time I got ill in China because of food was because of the fried rice that I had at the hostel I was staying at. Masochistically, I realized something tasted off about the food I was eating as I was eating it, but decided to keep eating because damn it, I paid for it. That was stupid. That night I was kissing porcelain in a communal bathroom (Western style, thank god) in Beijing.
My advice – just be smart about what you eat and do – but have some sort of traveler’s insurance that will cover you in case something happens.