I can’t stress this enough – preparing for a medical emergency while away from home can keep an uncomfortable break in your itinerary from turning your vacation into a nightmare.

I make the travel plans.  I find the hotel, the airfare, the activities, etc.  And, although I had read countless times about including emergency care as part of the travel plan, I had never done it.  Much to my deep regret.

We tried to prepare before we left home. Our 5 –year-old son had stomach pains and had vomited the night before we left for Orlando. We took him to the local hospital where he was cleared of anything dangerous. (No appendicitis, no E. coli, or other scary bacteria.) The next day, he was tired but not vomiting and felt well enough to travel.  We figured it was a usual kiddie germ that would be gone within 24-48 hours.

At the hotel he seemed fine. He swam and played and bugged the Nick characters. At night, however, the stomach pains returned – with a vengeance but with no other symptoms. After two nights we took him to a local hospital;  at 3 a.m. I called the ever-ready front desk and they promptly sent security guards to our room to take us to the hospital where we were told the wait would be at least 6 hours and that I might want to try some OTC remedies. The hotel security was concerned and eager to accommodate us.  They returned right away to take us back to the hotel – sweetly, they had buckled a stuffed SpongeBob toy in the passenger seat for my son – and offered to take us to another local hospital.  When I called, the wait there was the same.

We returned to our room, tried the OTC remedies and prayed for morning when the pains seemed to subside.  They did, although, our son was exhausted.  It did give me time to research other medical care alternatives in case he had another night of stomach pains.

The pains persisted and after searching our insurance Website, we found the names of local pediatricians. They did not take new patients, which I expected, but they did refer us to two pediatric immediate care centers: Night Light Pediatric and After Hours. Night Light was closer and they were ready. Because they could not figure out a cause for my son’s stomach pains, he was admitted to Florida Hospital in Orlando (an hour away). The hospital diagnosed a mysterious gastrointestinal virus that would go way on its own and we were relieved to know it was nothing more serious.

The virus did go away on its own after a full 7 days and we never knew exactly what it was.  We did learn, however, to plan ahead next time.  It may sound negative to hear “prepare for the worst” but I can say from experience that had we done just that, our trip would have been much much easier.  We would not have spent so many of our vacation hours chasing around trying to find adequate medical care.  Like most people, I assumed that as long as I was in a major city in the US, there would be ample medical care available.  I will make sure of it next time.