How to Handle Injury, Illness, Covid While Traveling Abroad!

November 15, 2023

How to Handle Injury  Illness  Covid While Traveling Abroad! hospital broken bones

Travel is good for you and supports living longer, but dealing with health issues, injuries, dental problems etc, can be challenging for travelers. Traveling while sick or with medical problems or covid complicates things for all travelers, digital nomads and especially senior travelers. We know lots of travel health secrets from so many years traveling. Good diet and exercise are the keys to long life, and our van lifestyle keeps us extra healthy.  We are fit and on no prescribed medicine in our 70's, with no heath issues.

Luckily our diet, fitness, genes, vitamins and digital nomad lifestyle helps us have low blood pressure, no diabetes, low cholesterol, no cancer, heart issues etc. Yet sometimes everyone must deal with health challenges, even more today for seniors who are at higher risk of Covid complications ( often times long after getting covid due to the permanent organ damage even in mild or asymptomatic cases). Thankfully, like this week, we are grateful for secret tips/online doctors we love. 

Heath and travel covid precautions dangers for seniors mask

 Like most Epidemiologists, ( and some others) and as a former ICU nurse,  we are still masking on planes, at airports, indoors, in stores and avoid crowds. Airports, hospitals and schools are the most dangerous places for covid spread, so we avoid if we can. Not that we like masks or vaccinations, but we'd rather keep our risks as low as we can. Our travel lifestyle is one mostly outdoors so we can enjoy ourselves most of the time without masks. We are also good at keeping our immune systems strong via supplements ,diet and lifestyle choices. Paxlovid which is standard care in much of the USA for those over 70 who get Covid, ( Paxlovid giving 90% chance of avoiding death, hospitalization or long covid)  is almost impossible to get in most of Europe. One can pretend that Covid is just a cold, but a cold does not do permanent damage and endless medical studies show us that Covid does.

How to Handle Injury  Illness   Covid While Traveling Abroad! masking on planes for seniors

 Van Life may be the best way to travel healthily in the age of Covid, but because we are doing long term travel as digital nomads, we have to do the Schengen Shuffle, which means taking some short flights. We actually could do it all in our vintage van, but sometimes it is faster and easier to combine with airbnb rental travel. Thus a calculated risk.

How to Handle Injury  Illness  Covid While Traveling Abroad! nose bleed to death bleeder ibruprofen
Sadly in all my years of non-stop travel, I have run into a few health nightmares like breaking my arm/paralyzing my arm in a bike wreck in Austria or almost bleeding to death due to Ibrupofen ( again in Austria). I have been to more hospitals in more countries than most people sadly. Yet, even as a hugely overweight fifty something, 99.9% of my travel years have been without medical problems. 

Even though it has been about 15 years since I broke and paralyzed my arm bike riding in Austria, this week near Barcelona, out of the blue, I was revisited by that excruciating pain. Perhaps is started because travel writing from a vintage van with a funky, aging arm due to old injury, is likely not the best ergonomics. 

How to Handle Injury  Illness  Covid While Traveling Abroad! lost 100 pounds at 70

Now that I lost more than 170lbs /77 kilos at 70, my health is extra good, so it caught me by surprise. I walk and or bike ride every day and feel like I'm in fantastic shape. We've had extra stress since we arrived due to needing to fix my mac laptop, handle some dentistry and handling my passport issue because it was stolen in Cyprus so I now just have a temporary one. We both got sick too, but then my arm suddenly got in as excruciating pain as when I broke it!! It was very difficult/painful  to move like a frozen shoulder. 

How to Handle Injury  Illness  Covid While Traveling Abroad! fit healthy at 70

That was pretty scary and so painful as I remember how long and agonizing that recovery was since I am right handed. Trust me, a year is a loooong time to go without your primary arm. I was afraid I might also need to do a serious, dangerous surgery to remove the titanium rod in my arm. 

How to Handle Injury  Illness  Covid While Traveling Abroad! xray of titanium rod in bone

That would mean if I was lucky, going through the whole process again including all the very  painful physical therapy for my frozen shoulder. I am also very sensitive to medicine, even things like Tylenol I avoid because it harms the liver. ( When I was young in my twenties I traveled to Haiti and got Hepatitis, so I try to take good care of my liver). I have had no problems with it, but do not want any, so I skip Tylenol etc. 

How to Handle Injury  Illness  Covid While Traveling Abroad! physical therapy  and travel
It really made no sense that my pain was as bad as when I broke it 15 years ago, but it was and my only recourse to lessen the pain seemed to be lay still in bed and to ice it. I felt so wounded and weak like one feels with a newly broken limb.I was seriously considering going to the hospital, then decided to call my chiropractor in LA ( Dr Jeff Kelber) instead. He does some amazing healing work in person and over the phone. ( You can look him up as his office is in Beverly Hills, if you want his phone number. )

Our family has gone to him for years and sent friends who could not get relief from pain and have had great success with him.( Both in person and over the phone at a distance). Over the phone, he uses some kind of muscle testing like "Neuro-emotional technique" which is a painless method that has worked miracles for me.

How to Handle Injury  Illness  Covid While Traveling Abroad! fast relief over the phone!!
I first discovered Net Chiropractic when I broke my femur and crushed my knee around 38. My knee crushed into a million pieces (because when I fell while jogging in the woods, my knee bent backwards) and it was another hard, hard recovery that took years. There were points where some experts said I would never walk again and it has "gone out" several times over the years unexpectedly which is terribly painful and does not function. (So even walking on crutches is impossible). 

It is a structural problem and the top orthopedic surgeon in San Francisco ( who was the 49er surgeons who has done surgery on Jerry Rice and Joe Montana) did surgery on it. But what helped me? Energy work called Net Chiropractic! It was a structural problem ( crushed bone) so I was shocked that energy work saved me, stopped the pain and got me finally walking again after years! I used a different chiropractor then in Northern California, but that experience taught me to be open to energy work. Some health practitioners who use energy work are much better than others. I have tried some who muscle tested & used energy work that did nothing, so make sure you work with someone who comes highly recommended. 

How to Handle Injury  Illness  Covid While Traveling Abroad! out of pain fast with net chiropractic over the phone

I  am not sure what chiropractic, energy work that Jeff uses over the phone but it works! I was in agony when I called him. Within 20 to 30 minutes during our conversation ( where he was muscle testing/working on the other end)  I was out of pain! Truly a miracle I am grateful for. My husband was amazed to see the difference so quickly over the phone. Jeff said it will likely take a few days to be completely healed (and to call him again if it does not completely heal),but immediately I felt better and was out of severe pain. For whatever unknown reason, it seemed to be connected to that injury long ago. 

How to Handle Injury  Illness  Covid While Traveling Abroad! sunrise and sunset flower walks nature healing vibes sea views

I'm just grateful to be back to enjoying my long sunset and sunrise hikes near the sea and woods here at our resort again. I write this in case it might be use to any other travelers, digital nomads or anyone sitting at home that needs pain relief and healing. Sometimes one gets the long hard way, sometimes if you are lucky, you can heal quickly with the right help.  I am super grateful to have this resource!!

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Very interesting read, this is something not really talked about in the travel world. Thanks for sharing.

jeanne Dee

Thanks Jenn! Luckily, most of the time travelers do not get sick or injured, but it is a common fear, so always good to be prepared.

Gabby Leopard

You look so good! And yes getting sick while travelling is terrible. I was hospitalised in Thailand for 1 night and had to limp with a bandaged foot for a wee. Definitely wasn't fun.

jeanne dee

Aww, thanks Gabby! I am so happy to be fit again! Yes, getting injured and ending up in hospital abroad can be really hard. I hope the hospital you were in was the famous one in Bangkok that is suppose to be fantastic and many go for travel tourism. Nevertheless, hospitals are never fun.


Super interesting reading your story - thank you for sharing!

Jeanne Dee

Thanks so much Samantha! So many adventures with full time travel, most are great and what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger! :)


Very interesting read. Getting sick abroad is the worst!


This was a great read! I didn’t know that energy work was even a thing, learned something new!

Jeanne Dee

Thanks Yvonne! Yep, getting really sick or having a serious accident or dental problem abroad is no fun. Of course they are no fun at home either and also WHERE it happens abroad makes a big difference. Austria was a much better place to break/paralyze my arm than most of the 3rd world countries I have visited and it actually cost me much, much, much less than if I had done it in the USA. So small blessings sometimes.

jeanne dee

Aw, thanks Shreya! Glad to hear that. I didn't know about it either until I had such pain from my crushed knee and inability to walk for years that I desperately tried everything. Now I've worked many years with top chiropractors and acupuncturist and nutritionist that use muscle testing and various forms of energy work. It has worked great for me and my family. In fact the doctor I used to lose all the weight incorporates that into his practice so that helped me as well.

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