You are currently viewing Health aspect of your travels: introduction

One half of the health aspect of travel is vital for all trips. For the other half, it depends on the country. In July, I went to India. It’s a country that, like a lot of others, has many diseases that we don’t have here. So to cover that half of the health aspect of my trip, I tested the services of a travel health clinic.

I also got you a discount code, if you live in Ontario or Québec. Flytrippers definitely recommends the Summit Health Travel Clinic, and you can use the FLYTRIP25 code for 25% off a consultation if you want help to plan the health aspect of your travels (in person or online, but even online you need to be in Ontario or Québec for regulatory reasons).

I had discovered this local company during the pandemic, because they offered a virtual telehealth version of the COVID-19 tests required by several countries (we told you about it). The experience was excellent (I know many of you took advantage of it, and I trust you all had an equally good experience).

So I turned to them for the health aspect of my trip to India. The experience was once again very good (I’ll soon be doing a separate article just about my personal experience with the Summit Health Travel Clinic and about my trip too).

But I thought this would be a good opportunity to also do an introductory article on the whole health aspect of travel that is very important (and quickly share the discount code with you), while you wait for lots of more detailed content in August. 

Here are all the details.

 

Overview of the health aspect of your travels

It’s absolutely essential not to neglect the health aspect of your travels. There’s nothing more important than health in life (and being healthy will help you travel even more). And you often need to plan this at least a few weeks before you leave, don’t forget!

First of all, you need to distinguish between 2 things when it comes to the health aspect of your travels:

  • What is mandatory and required to enter a country (quite rare)
  • What’s recommended for travel (at the very least insurance, always)

But above all, there are 2 facets to the health aspect of your travels:

  • Vaccines and medications (for prevention)
  • Medical travel insurance (for healing)

There are 2 steps for the vaccinations and medication for your travels:

  • Getting information on vaccines/medications that are recommended/mandatory
  • Getting the actual vaccines/medications that are recommended/mandatory 

And there are 2 ways to obtain medical travel insurance for your trips:

  • Completely free for most trips
  • At greatly reduced prices thanks to the right providers for the others

 

Details of the health aspect of your travels

Here are more details on each of the topics mentioned.

 

Obligations and recommendations concerning the health aspect of your travels

I start with the important distinction between what is mandatory and what is recommended.

 

Obligations

Unfortunately, many travelers have just now discovered the concept of country entry requirements due to the ineffective government rules during the pandemic.

But even before this nightmarish period, some countries already required mandatory vaccinations or compulsory travel insurance. It’s quite rare, yes. But the only way to know if there is a requirement is to take the time to check, of course.

For mandatory vaccinations, it’s mostly for yellow fever for example. On the other hand, there are plenty of other types of non-health-related requirements that are very often in place and that too few people know about.

You have no choice but to check that, it’s really a very basic part of planning any trip.

I’ve just done a comprehensive guide on the need to check the entry rules and requirements of all the countries you want to go to and it’s definitely worth reading so you don’t skip this essential step in travel planning (literally the ONLY step that is essential).

 

Recommendations

Even if your destination has no requirements or obligations, that obviously doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan for the health aspect. Especially the 2nd half of the health aspect of travel.

First, there are a number of vaccinations that are recommended, even if not mandatory, for travel to many countries where there are many diseases that we simply don’t have here in Canada. And there are many medications that are recommended to bring along, in case you get sick (and they don’t take up too much space).

Because wasting time being sick while traveling isn’t ideal when you don’t have much time to travel in the year.

Secondly, if you do have any health issue while traveling, of course you absolutely must have medical travel insurance (which is so easy to get for free) so you don’t have to pay a penny for health care.

Let me be exceedingly clear because it’s important: as travel experts, we would never recommend traveling without medical travel insurance. Never. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s as simple as that.

We’re very (very, very) far from being the most stressed or fearful (on the contrary, we’re doing everything in our power to use our platform so that all travelers stop being afraid for nothing, and stop always worrying too much). But it’s just absurd to travel without it, when an accident can quickly cost $100,000 in medical treatment in some countries.

 

Vaccines and medication for your travels (for prevention)

I give you more details on the 2 steps of this facet, i.e. getting the information and getting the vaccines and medications themselves.

 

Getting information on the vaccines/medications that are recommended/mandatory

Like just about everything else in the world of travel (or even in life), you have 2 options:

  • Find the information yourself for free
  • Pay someone to give you the information

 

Find the information yourself for free

Yes, of course you can find all the information you need yourself, completely free, thanks to this brilliant invention that is the Internet.

(You just have to invest some time. Investing time in good travel planning is one of the top 7 tips to make your travels more affordable. You should read all the tips in our free ebook to learn how to travel for less — instead of just complaining that travel is expensive without doing anything about it like most people unfortunately do!)

As for checking what entry requirements are mandatory specifically, you should of course always look at all of them for every country you go to. So you’ll see the health requirements (if any) in the same place as where you check all the requirements. All the information on that is in the guide about the travel rules mentioned above.

As for checking what’s recommended for diseases, since I’ve started traveling a lot, I’ve personally always used the American CDC site, which seems the most comprehensive and easiest to navigate for all the different health risks and all the information.

 

Pay someone to give you the information

If you want to pay for assistance, that’s why travel health clinics like the Summit Health Travel Clinic exist (outside of Ontario and Québec, there are plenty of options too).

Their service can come in very handy in many scenarios:

  • To have a medical expert contextualize each of the specific risks involved
  • To reassure you if you’re among those who are more fearful than others
  • To be able to put in zero effort and to have no time to invest to look on your own
  • To be able to ask your questions to health professionals

We saw it again during the pandemic, some people are much more fearful than others and are absolutely terrible at contextualizing health risks. And we see it in everything, so many people are too busy/lazy to invest time to do things on their own. And many just want more information!

Whatever your reason, it’s exactly why we got you this FLYTRIP25 promo code for 25% off a consultation at the Summit Health Travel Clinic, Flytrippers’ favorite travel health clinic.

It comes out to $49 instead of $65 for solo travelers, and to $41 instead of $54 for groups of 2-6 more travelers (group consultations are only for those going to the same destinations).

I’ll do a detailed post on my very positive consultation experience very soon, but in short, the health professionals will give you their personalized recommendations for your trip and situation. They’ll do the research for you and give you their expert advice.

I did my consultation in telehealth mode (as anyone can do from anywhere in Ontario and Québec) and it was very efficient. I then went to their Downtown Montreal clinic.

 

Getting the actual vaccines/medications that are recommended/mandatory

It’s important to remember that most vaccines must be taken at least 2 weeks before departure, but sometimes it’s even longer (it obviously varies depending on the specific vaccine).

So you have to plan ahead. It’s not complicated, it’s always better to do your research in advance for all aspects of a trip! So simple, but a lot of people have a hard time with it, so I’ll remind you again.

Many private health insurance plans reimburse you for a portion of the price of vaccines and medications too, don’t forget to look into that.

There are a few types of vaccines and medications that are recommended or mandatory for your travels:

  • Regular vaccines you need to get at a clinic
  • Oral vaccines you can get at a pharmacy
  • Medications you can get at a pharmacy

 

Regular vaccines you need to get at a clinic

The vast majority of vaccines must be received in a clinic. Because unless you’re a medical professional, chances are you can’t inject yourself.

If you do a consultation with the Summit Health Travel Clinic, they can tell you which vaccines to ask for in your area, or of course give you the vaccines in their own clinics if you can go to the Toronto or Montreal areas.

They have 3 clinics in Toronto (they have just opened so they’re brand new):

  • Downtown
  • Midtown
  • Etobicoke

They have 8 clinics in and around Montreal (they’ve been in business there for a long time):

  • Downtown
  • Westmount
  • Le Plateau
  • Rosemont
  • Laval
  • Longueuil
  • Greenfield Park
  • Saint-Jérôme

For example, for my trip to India in July, they offered me the Japanese encephalitis vaccine I’d never had, so I could share the experience with you. I stopped at the Summit Health Travel Clinic when I was in Montreal, it was great (and conveniently located). And in the past, I had gotten my travel vaccines at a clinic in Québec City when I lived there.

 

Oral vaccines you can get at a pharmacy

There are a few oral vaccines that you can get at a pharmacy and easily administer yourself.

If you have a consultation with the Summit Health Travel Clinic, they can provide you with the prescription to take to your pharmacy, or they can give you the oral vaccines in person if you go to the clinic directly.

For example, for my trip to India in July, I took 2 oral vaccines at home, for cholera/E. coli and for typhoid. I took their prescriptions to my pharmacy in my hometown of Trois-Rivières because I couldn’t take them from their clinic in Montreal: these are vaccines that need to stay refrigerated, so plan for that in your logistics. I believe this was my first time taking oral vaccines, but my memory isn’t the best for things I don’t really care about.

 

Medications you can get at a pharmacy

It’s not just vaccines. There are also medications that will help you if you ever get sick that you can take with you on your trip.

If you do the consultation with the Summit Health Travel Clinic, they can prescribe them for you and you can get them at your local pharmacy (the clinics only carry vaccines, not medications).

Having these medications with you saves you from having to buy them locally on a trip, because:

  • In some countries, this is not always easy to find
  • In all countries, when you’re sick, it’s best to concentrate on resting and getting better

For example, for my trip to India in July, I was prescribed several medications that I brought with me, even though I didn’t need them. And even the 2 times I went to Africa in 2019, I even had clean syringes with me as a preventive measure.

It really doesn’t take up any space. I flew without checked bags (as I and all flight pros always do) and it fit without a problem. They’re not liquid medications so they don’t take up space in your limited liquid spaces, which seems to (unnecessarily) stress out a lot of people who have sadly never tried to travel light (another topic we’ll cover soon).

 

Medical insurance for your travels (for healing)

You can get medical travel insurance completely free of charge or at a greatly reduced price.

 

Medical travel insurance completely free of charge

Some people have free medical travel insurance with their group insurance at work, so you should obviously check there first… but “just” free isn’t even the best option.

It’s that almost any trip can be easily covered for better than free: you can be literally paid to get medical travel insurance.

The short version is that many good credit cards offer you this insurance for free and come with huge welcome bonuses.

Best credit cards for
medical travel insurance
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $10k in 12 mos. (or $6k for lower bonus)
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends June 3rd
Rewards: ≈ $761
Annual fee: $139
Coverage (age restrictions): 21 days &
most valuable
airline rewards
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $7.5k in 1y (or $1k)
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends July 1st
Rewards: $775
Card fee: $120
Coverage (age restrictions): 25 days &
2nd-best
earn rate
American Express Cobalt® Card
American Express Cobalt Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $750/mo for 12 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $900
Card fee: $156
Coverage (age restrictions): 15 days &
best
card in Canada
National Bank® World Elite Mastercard®
National Bank World Elite Mastercard
Card:
Bonus: no welcome bonus
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends August 15th
Rewards: ≈ $300
Card fee: $150
Coverage (age restrictions): 60 days &
5X earn rate
& YUL lounge access
RBC® British Airways Visa Infinite
RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
limited time
Rewards: ≈ $840
Card fee: $165
Coverage (age restrictions): 31 days &
bonus
obtainable every year
American Express® Gold Rewards Card
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1k/mo for 12 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $1180
Card fee: $250
Coverage (age restrictions): 15 days &
4 lounge
passes in Canada
Platinum Card® from American Express
Platinum Card from American Express
Card:
Bonus: spend $10k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $1600
Card fee: $799
Coverage (age restrictions): 15 days &
unlimited
airport lounge access
TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $5k in 6 months
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
ends June 3rd
Rewards: $750
Annual fee: $0 $139
Coverage (age restrictions): 21 days &
highest
current offer (simple)
CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 4 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $484
Card fee:
Coverage (age restrictions): 15 days &
4 free
airport lounge passes
CIBC Aventura® Gold Visa* Card
CIBC Aventura Gold Visa Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 4 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Rewards: ≈ $484
Card fee:
Coverage (age restrictions): 15 days &
4 free
airport lounge passes
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: no min. spend
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)

 apply now
Rewards: ≈ $525
Card fee: $120
Coverage (age restrictions): 15 days &
very
valuable rewards
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Financial institutions are not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "See More" to see most up-to-date information.
Best credit cards for
medical travel insurance
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Coverage
(age restrictions)
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $10k in 12 mos. (or $6k for lower bonus)
Rewards: ≈ $761
Annual fee: $139
21 days &
most valuable
airline rewards
ends June 3rd
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $7.5k in 1y (or $1k)
Rewards: $775
Card fee: $120
25 days &
2nd-best
earn rate
ends July 1st
American Express Cobalt Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $750/mo for 12 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $900
Card fee: $156
15 days &
best
card in Canada
National Bank World Elite Mastercard
Card:
Bonus: no welcome bonus
Rewards: ≈ $300
Card fee: $150
60 days &
5X earn rate
& YUL lounge access
ends August 15th
RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $840
Card fee: $165
31 days &
bonus
obtainable every year
limited time
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1k/mo for 12 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $1180
Card fee: $250
15 days &
4 lounge
passes in Canada
Platinum Card from American Express
Card:
Bonus: spend $10k in 3 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $1600
Card fee: $799
15 days &
unlimited
airport lounge access
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $5k in 6 months
Rewards: $750
Annual fee: $0 $139
21 days &
highest
current offer (simple)
ends June 3rd
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 4 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $484
Card fee:
15 days &
4 free
airport lounge passes
CIBC Aventura Gold Visa Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 4 mos.
Rewards: ≈ $484
Card fee:
15 days &
4 free
airport lounge passes
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: no min. spend
Rewards: ≈ $525
Card fee: $120
15 days &
very
valuable rewards

 apply now
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Financial institutions are not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "See More" to see most up-to-date information.

 

After the 1st year, it’s not rocket science: you just get another one that has medical travel insurance and a big welcome bonus. It’s not complicated at all! Not only will it give you free insurance and lots of free travel in the form of rewards… it’ll also improve your credit score, contrary to the common myth.

The wonderful world of travel rewards is so counter-intuitive. But all the many Flytrippers fans who have now earned over 2 million dollars in free travel just with our recommended welcome bonus deals have all improved their credit scores, if they followed the 3 simple rules of course.

It’s worth noting that to be covered by medical travel insurance, you don’t even have to pay for the trip in question with your credit card (it’s required for all the many other types of travel insurance, but not the medical one).

Everyone always believes all the myths about credit cards (like the most untrue of all, the myth that having more cards hurts your credit score)… but the fact is, most people really don’t know anything about this topic (and it’s normal: when you don’t know, you don’t know).

There are a few exceptions you should be aware of to be able to make the best plan for your travel rewards strategy:

  • Many cards cover only short trips (often 15 days)
    • You can still get free insurance for longer trips
    • But it just takes more planning in your travel rewards strategy
  • There are fewer cards with insurance for those earning under $60,000
    • You can still get free insurance if you earn less
    • But it just takes more planning in your travel rewards strategy
  • Most cards do not cover travelers aged 65 and over
    • There are a few, but it’s really more limited
    • In this case you may have to pay a little
    • It’s normal; travel insurance is more expensive for those who are older

I’ll do a detailed post about this soon, more specifically about how to concretely elaborate your own travel rewards strategy for travel insurance.

(But if you do travel rewards like a pro and get cards regularly, you won’t really have to worry much about this because you’ll have plenty of medical coverage!)

Join the 95,000+ savvy Canadian travelers who receive all our travel tips and deals via our free newsletter, and I’ll be sending you the insurance part very soon.

 

Medical travel insurance at greatly reduced prices

If you can’t get it completely free, it’s vital to have medical travel insurance, even if you have to pay for it.

(Of course, I’m not talking about the 7 other types of travel insurance, which are not essential — but also easy to get for free with credit cards — it’s just medical insurance that’s absolutely essential!)

At the very least, don’t pay the way-too-high rates of most Canadian insurance providers (it’s like airfares and cell phone plans, Canada has terrible prices on those too).

The 2 providers that are much cheaper and that we recommend are:

 

SafetyWing

SafetyWing has by far the lowest prices for medical travel insurance.

It’s as little as US$34 for a 3-week trip, if you’re under 39 for example. It’s Flytrippers’ favorite medical insurance provider.

Kevin, Flytrippers’ other co-founder, has been using SafetyWing for years as a digital nomad who can’t be covered by credit cards for his 11.5-month trip every year.

Yes, SafetyWing is primarily designed for long-term travel, but they also cover any trip. Kevin will be doing a detailed article very soon, but in the meantime I’ll share the essentials with you.

There are 4 things that make it possible for them to have lower prices:

  • It is not a Canadian company
  • It cannot be purchased from Canada
  • It offers slightly lower coverages
  • It excludes the USA, which is a separate plan

SafetyWing is a company based in California and Norway, but that covers all travelers of all nationalities.

(Canadian regulations tend to make it more costly to operate here, as in almost all industries!)

You need to buy your SafetyWing insurance only once you’ve left Canada, specifically as soon as you land at your destination. Many people are too afraid to fly without medical travel insurance, so if that’s your case, SafetyWing isn’t for you.

(It’s the opposite of Canadian insurers’ plans which absolutely must be purchased before departure… so SafetyWing is the best option, or rather the only option, if you forgot to buy your insurance before you left!)

SafetyWing‘s coverage amounts are a little lower, US$250,000 for example. Honestly, for the vast majority of things that can happen to you, US$250,000 is a lot. But if you want more, SafetyWing isn’t for you.

(Other insurers like the next one below — and credit cards — usually cover for $1 million and more!)

SafetyWing‘s basics plans don’t include travel to the USA, the kingdom of excessively expensive health care. That means you don’t pay extra for nothing if you go elsewhere. If you go to the USA, the price is simply higher, because you need to add it separately.

(They’re usually still the cheapest, but for the USA — and any trip, really — you should always compare with the next insurer below anyway, because that one is almost always the cheapest 100% Canadian insurer!)

 

soNomad

soNomad has the lowest prices of amongst Canadian insurers.

It’s a new and innovative player that’s completely online and doesn’t charge the big commissions of their competitors because they want to offer the lowest prices. It’s Flytrippers’ favorite Canadian medical insurance provider.

It’s a traditional insurer like all the others in Canada, but by offering their plans on their website alone (with no intermediaries that add fees), soNomad can simply offer lower prices.

As they were designed and launched as a digital-first operation, they are far more technologically advanced than most insurers (not a very high bar indeed, so many insurers are dinosaurs stuck in 2006 on the tech side).

In short, soNomad‘s online quote process is exceedingly simple, efficient, and well done. I’ll be doing a more detailed article on this new insurer soon too.

 

Other insurers

If you really want to compare others, I’ll list the insurers who had the best prices in my experience (a very limited experience thanks to free insurance with credit cards):

 

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Summary

It’s important to plan the health aspect of your travels, just like every other aspect of your travels. Sometimes it’s even mandatory, but there are often recommended vaccines and medications. At the very least, it’s always recommended to have medical travel insurance, without exception.

What would you like to know about the health aspect of travel? Tell us in the comments below.

 

See the deals we spot: Cheap flights

Explore awesome destinations: Travel inspiration

Learn pro tricks: Travel tips

Discover free travel: Travel rewards

 

Featured image: Lake Paron, Peru (photo credit: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 71/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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