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Even Tenured Travelers Can Make Mistakes: Are You Prepared for when Disaster Strikes?

We all make mistakes, me included. As a traveler of 4 years, my mistakes have become less and less frequent, however, I recently made a BIG mistake!

Would you ever go to a foreign country without medication in the event you suffer food insensitivity or unexpected illness? Probably not… Every time I’ve ever traveled to a foreign country, I’ve always anti-nausea, anti-fever, anti-diarrheal medications, motion sickness, and ibuprofen/acetaminophen medications. My travel buddies have joked that I’m a walking pharmacy while on international trips. Still, you can’t ever be too prepared!

About six weeks ago, I was sicker than I had been in over 10 years. Unfortunately, there was a bad stomach bug going around and I was unlucky enough to contract it. As a solo traveler, not knowing many people in the area, I was totally unprepared. It was an awful 24 hours in which I considered going to the emergency room for dehydration. My heart was racing, I had a fever, and my blood pressure dropped. I couldn’t even keep down ice chips for 14 hours. I knew I had to figure out a way to rehydrate. I had anti-nausea medications available as well as anti-fever medications, but they weren’t helping. I had nothing on hand in terms of electrolyte replenishment drinks, broth, or bland foods such as saltine crackers.

The lesson I learned from this is to prepare ahead for the rare event that you may become very ill in a completely new location with little contacts/support.

My TOP THREE TIPS to prepare for you for this worst-case scenario situation….

  1. Always have supplies on hand in the event you become ill. I recommend not only keeping anti-nausea, anti-fever, anti-diarrheal, cold/flu, and cough medication on hand, but also electrolyte replenishment drinks, broth/soup, and crackers available. It’s also helpful to have tissues, a first aid kit, and an ice pack easily accessible in your short-term housing.

  2. Research the nearest urgent care centers and emergency rooms near both where you’ll be living and working. You might be thinking, duh, I’m working for a hospital, I can just go there. You might think so at first, but are they in-network with your insurance carrier? When you are truly feeling so bad that you need to visit the emergency room, the last thing you’re going to think about is what hospital is in-network? You don’t want to see what an out-of-network emergency room bill looks like! A good friend had severe food poisoning a few months ago and ended up going to an out-of-network emergency room. You don’t even want to now how much the bill was for IV fluids and IV anti-emetics. Unfortunately, she didn’t realize it

had been out-of-network until she receive her bill in the mail.

  1. Know what to expect with your staffing agency if you must call out sick. Most agencies will want you to not only contact the facility, but also your recruiter to inform them that you are sick. Most travelers don’t have sick time available (although certain states require sick time be given to all employees so check for your state). In most cases, you won’t be paid for the time you don’t work. Naturally, the staffing agency can’t bill for hours that you don’t work, so they can’t pay you. However, there are agencies out there who will not only not pay you, but they will charge you for missing work! What I must pay them for each hour I don’t work? Yes, you read that correctly! They phrase it in terms such as lost revenue for them. I’ve seen travelers have as much as $21/hour not worked docked from their check. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to pay the agency for not working. Always make sure to ask your recruiter how that agency handles sick time. The last thing you want is to feel sicker than a dog, miss out on pay, and then owe the agency on top of it!

In conclusion, as travelers, we are naturally adaptable and flexible. We are used to constant change. I myself am a mix of Type A & Type B personalities. I can roll with the punches and adjust to the unexpected in terms of the facility staffing needs and last-minute changes. However, anything that I can do to control the things that are in my realm of my control, I do. Having an emergency supply kit, knowing your emergent healthcare options, and understanding the consequences of being sick for your agency can help you be prepared when this type of disaster strikes while on the road.

As Benjamin Franklin would say, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”

Looking for an agency that won’t charge you for missed hours due to sickness, click here!

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