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Essentials to Pack for a Medical Tourism Trip

Around 11 million people travel to different parts of the world for medical care each year. People who cannot find medical care in their home country to sufficiently meet their medical needs, those who find the cost of treatment is too high, or individuals who feel there are superior medical services in another country may seek out services abroad. For a successful journey and the best outcomes, it's essential to bring along specific items for a medical tourism trip.

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01Medical records

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The most important types of documents you'll need for a medical tourism trip are your medical records. These should include information about any medical conditions, lab work, medical test results, medication allergies or sensitivities, and a list of what prescriptions, health supplements, and over-the-counter meds you're currently taking. If you're a member of a healthcare system that provides access to your records electronically, you can download and print them yourself. However, if not, you'll need to request them from your medical provider. This can sometimes take some time, so it's best to get started gathering them long before your departure date. An additional copy packed in a separate suitcase is a good safeguard in case you lose the first copy.

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02Pain relievers, prescriptions, and OTC medications

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Hospitals and medical care facilities don't always have the same pain meds or over-the-counter pain relievers that are available in your home country. It's important to pack plenty of them so that you have what you'll need following your procedure or treatment. Additionally, if you're taking prescriptions for other medical conditions, explain to your physician that you'll be traveling out of the country and will need enough to see you through until your return.

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03Contact information

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A list of all your physicians and emergency contacts is essential when packing for a medical trip. Make sure you provide names, addresses, and accurate, current phone numbers. Designate who is to be contacted should you have a medical emergency. If you have a travel companion with you, make sure they also have a copy of the list.

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04Proof of Insurance

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Whenever you travel internationally, it's important to have reputable travel medical insurance to take care of any emergencies that occur when you're on foreign soil. Standard traveler insurance policies usually don't provide coverage if you're traveling solely for medical treatment. Read your policy carefully. Although there are high standards of care in many countries that perform medical procedures for tourists, there's a potential for complications, just as there is with treatment in your home country. The price quoted for a procedure does not usually cover the cost of treating complications that arise or the cost of medical evacuation back home.

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05Currency exchange and credit card notifications

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Save time and effort by exchanging your cash ahead of time so that you have access to the local currency as soon as you land at your destination. Most major banks and financial institutions in your home country have money exchange services available. Instead of carrying large bills, opt for smaller ones, along with some change. Keeping a credit card with you is also a good idea. But before leaving on your trip, notify the credit card company that you'll be traveling overseas. If a card suddenly shows charges in a foreign country, they will likely deny the charges because they view them as potentially suspicious or fraudulent.

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06Comfortable clothing

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Loose-fitting, comfortable clothes can ease your recuperation. The more comfortable you are, the less likely you'll experience a difficult healing process. The clothing shouldn't hinder your movements but should be appropriate for the weather conditions in your destination. Bring comfortable, closed-toe shoes that are easy to walk in. Leave those trendy, tight clothes at home and opt for attire that better suits a pleasant recovery. And, it's best to leave expensive jewelry at home.

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07Portable mobility scooter

mobility scooter lightweight medical tourism Scharfsinn86 / Getty Images

If you have the cash to spare, investing in a portable mobility scooter may be a great purchase for a medical tourism trip. Look for those with a super-lightweight, folding frame. The best options only weigh around 40 pounds, and when folded, are about the same size as a rolling suitcase. The battery-powered scooter comes with a charger, and you plug it into a wall socket to charge it when needed. Following a medical procedure, you'll appreciate how much easier it is to make your way through large airports on a scooter.

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08Cell phone

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Many experts recommend that medical tourists also bring their cell phones. Your cell phone allows you to stay connected with family and friends back home. It also makes it much easier to find your way around your destination, access translation and other helpful apps as needed, and reschedule or make additional travel plans. Most of the top medical tourism countries, like Thailand, India, Brazil, and Malaysia, have excellent infrastructures to support cell phone networks.

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