It was an interesting week last week for my little crew. Charlie fell off a slide at Will’s school and hours later we were sent home from the hospital with a broken elbow and a cast. A friend of mine’s husband was also hit by a car while training for an Ironman race. This got me thinking about what we as parents should all consider before heading out on vacation with injured or sick kids.
I am not going to tell you that I am not nervous about Charlie’s cast affecting our pending roadtrip. Luckily, her injury happened earlier in the summer and the cast should be off weeks before we leave the country. Still we do have a few trips planned including a trip next week to Deerhurst Resort. I was able to contact DryCast, a company that sells waterproof cast covers and had two shipped to me within an hour from the time I originally contacted them. I can’t wait to review both the shower and swimming covers and tell you more about them.
I can’t tell you how many times I am days away from leaving on a great trip and someone starts throwing up. Whether its the flu, norovirus or something more long term like pneumonia, you really do need to consider what your best options are.
The first thing to do is take your kids to a doctor before boarding a flight or driving out of the country. The doctor can at least assess whether whatever is causing the illness is viral or bacterial. If its bacterial, you will need antibiotics to take with you on your trip. In the past, I have had doctors provide me with the ingredients to antibiotics in two separate bottles so that the actual medicine would not require refrigeration. Once I arrived at my destination, I combined the two bottles to make the delicious pink goop that kids across North America gobble down for ear infections and bacterial strep throats.
What about the cost of your trip or flight? With most family resorts, if you must cancel within 14 days of the trip you will not receive any refund and may have to pay an additional flight penalty cost. If you need to a cancel a flight, you will often find the result is the same.
These types of penalties can easily be avoided or at least minimized with most travel insurance but there is usually a mandatory period of time within which you can purchase the insurance and then cancel your trip. Also, most reputable airlines would rather rebook your flight with a day or even a few hours notice than permit you to board an airline with something like an active flu. It may only cost you a few hundred dollars or less to do so and could potentially save the lives of the elderly, infants or people with weakened immune systems on board your flight.
Out of Country Injury or Illness
As Canadians, we are so used to free health insurance that even as an avid traveler I don’t usually consider what will happen if we get sick abroad. Also, because of my husband’s work benefits we have some minor insurance for things like prescriptions filled outside of the country. I have been in two situations where this really mattered.
First, Charlie was hospitalized in the U.S. for one night which cost us almost $2000. A year later we received a further bill, for another $800. We were reimbursed about $1000 originally by our benefit plan but nothing with the second charge. Travel insurance would have been smart here, as I drove my own car and stayed somewhere that I wasn’t able to use a visa to rent. Thus, the entire cost fell onto me. It was a lesson I wish I hadn’t learned this way.
Last year, I headed to California with the kids and ran out of Nasonex which led to pretty severe sinusitis quickly. A quick doctor visit and a container of Nasonex ended up costing me over $500. Only the cost of a what a generic brand Nasonex-like sinus spray would have cost me in Canada was refunded to me upon returning to Canada.
So what’s a mom to do? Well first off don’t stress too much. I have been on a lot of trips alone with my kids and no matter what we have returned home in one piece. The best preparation is knowing where you are going and what your options for health care are in that location. You cannot plan everything. Your kid may fall. Your allergies may act up. In the end, do your research before leaving to determine what if any coverage you have on vacation.
Travel Credit Cards
My reassurance when traveling comes mostly from my TD Canada Trust First Class Travel Visa. I do not book a single flight, rental car or vacation on any other card. Most of the travel credit cards provide you will some sort of travel insurance. Here are the things included with my card:
- $1,000,000 of eligible unexpected emergency medical expenses for up to 15 days;
- If the full cost of the trip is charged to the same credit card, $1,000 of eligible trip cancellation expenses per person, to a maximum of $5,000;
- Medical referrals, consultation, monitoring and transportation to medical facility, or medical payment assistance; and
- Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance which means I do not need to purchase insurance from the car rental company.
The key things to remember when relying on your credit card is that for trips over $5000, you may not get back the entire value of the cancelled trip and all of these perks only apply if the entire booking is paid for on the same credit card.
Know before you go
My best advice is to check your visa, travel insurance and benefits policies before you leave for vacation. If you are traveling with kids and something does go wrong stay calm and ask for help. I drove a hardly breathing Charlie into a Florida hospital and she was cared for way before they asked for my visa or insurance plan. In the end, they are your children and you’ll pay anything to keep the safe. It would just be better if you didn’t have to.