Injuries are the last thing we want to think about or expect to happen while relaxing and travelling. Unfortunately I discovered first hand, they do happen and they can put a big dent in your plans. Here are a few general tips that I had the misfortune of discovering and you might find handy to learn from.
Firstly, there are a couple of things you can do BEFORE you leave to make life easier in the event that something does happen. Smartraveller.com.au is the Australian Government website that has emergency contact numbers listed and suggestions to find the nearest doctor or hospital when you are travelling either domestically or internationally. It is recommended you have travel and medical insurance. Do your research before you make your purchase and make sure the policy is appropriate for you. Some travel insurance companies have medical staff that you can talk to 24/7 and a team that can help you organise transportation to the appropriate medical professional or home if needed. This can take a lot of stress out of trying to get around a foreign country, especially if you don’t speak the language or are unable to move around as you’re accustomed. Make sure to take a copy of your policy and their contact details with you – calling home at 2am Australian time because you forgot them will probably not go down well!
If you’re unsure, get a medical opinion early on. Denial told me I had a bad ankle sprain, the x-ray told me it was a fracture. Some injuries can increase the risks associated with certain activities and transport methods (e.g. flying). As a result certain changes may need to be made to your travel arrangements so you can proceed safely. Business class, with your leg elevated and eating almost normal pancakes for breakfast isn’t the worst way to be shipped home after getting 5 days into your six week holiday (glad for travel insurance here!). It’s best to manage injuries correctly early on, wishing you had of known not to do something because complications have arisen, isn’t what you want to come home to.
Get a good idea of what to avoid from the medical practitioner you consult – it might be an idea to check if the exercises/stretches your osteo or physio has given you previously are OK to continue with. Some tips on when to use heat vs ice for pain relief can be found here: http://osteohealth.net.au/heat-vs-ice-the-great-debate/ Remember if the exercises or heat/ice cause or aggravate your pain, don’t continue using them. I would recommend to check with your insurance company what treatment/consultation types they cover you for before you leave for your holiday.
Finally, injuries will mean different things depending on their severity. Typically, our bodies will have to work a lot harder to compensate for an injury. You may have to accept that slowing down (in my case – thanks to being on crutches), altering plans and taking it easy will mean you can get back to having fun sooner and make you less likely to worsen the original injury or creating another.
If you have pre booked plans and are unable to walk properly or can’t do such long distances due to your injury, call ahead and let the tour company or tourist attraction know. They may be able to organise a wheelchair or have access/altered tour options for people with differing abilities. The same thing goes for flights – some companies will be able to offer assistance on board and around large airports if they are given prior notice. HINT: If you have booked any of the above through a travel agent, get in contact with them. In my experience, they will help alter your bookings and it will help decrease the list of things you have to try and organise.
If you have any questions about some handy stretches to take with you on your travels don’t forget to ask us when you’re in next.
Happy, coordinated and safe travels.