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Guide to safe travel: 5 things to do before travelling to Italy!

“Travelling is the only thing you buy, that makes you richer”. Indeed, local traditions, culinary specialties, and breath-taking views can truly enrich your cultural baggage and shape the way you look at the world.

Discover, explore, and experience the unknown to the fullest should be the only “duty” of your vacation. It goes without saying that this is not always the case, as unforeseen difficulties are unfortunately common when travelling, especially when language barriers make effective communication a challenge.  Whether you are a risk-taking adventurer or a travel nerd, you may want to read this checklist to minimize misunderstandings while travelling to Italy.

1 – Pack all medical documents needed for the trip

While some common medications can be bought over the counter at a local pharmacy, others, such as antibiotics, require you to have a doctor’s prescription. Ask your doctor to specify the medicine’s generic name, and the dosage if you decide to use a prescription in Rome.  

If you have a known medical condition, such as diabetes, make sure to pack a medical report in your carry-on bag – explaining your medical issue, and any medical treatment you have undergone. Also, if you have done any recent lab test or lab analysis it is a good idea to bring a copy with you, as you are travelling to Italy.

2 – Check coverage of your insurance plan

Wait a minute.. isn’t the Italian healthcare system public? Healthcare is free or extremely cheap to Italian residents and a few other exceptions, but tourists can only take advantage of the low fees in case of emergencies. It should also be noted that waiting lists are the daily bread of Italian hospitals, and in some cases visiting a private outpatient clinic is preferable, though, of course, not free of charge.

That said, checking on your insurance website what are the medical expenses covered abroad cannot hurt, and might save you hours waiting for your turn at a public hospital.

  • If you are covered, do not forget to bring your insurance policy ID with you
  • If you are not covered, consider purchasing a travel insurance plan for the period you are spending abroad

3 – Know what you are looking for.

You may be delighted to know that you don’t have to stuff your suitcase with preventive medicines as over the counter drugs can be found nearly at any “farmacia” in Rome. Figuring out how to explain a NON English speaking pharmacist what you need exactly might be “slightly” more complicated!

While the generic name of medications is usually pretty similar to the Italian version, other common terms might come in handy when looking for the proper medication:

 

Tablets Pillole
Suppositories Supposte
Pills Pillole
Powders Polveri
Ointment Crema
Injections Iniezioni
Adhesive bandages Cerotti adesivi
Hand-Sanitizer Disinfettante antibatterico per le mani
Hydrogen Peroxide Acqua ossigenata

 

4 –  Be prepared for an emergency

If in need of an immediate medical treatment in Italy, call the toll free number 118 for a public ambulance.

If you are near a “Pronto Soccorso”, an emergency room in Rome, you can simply walk in, but be aware that not all hospitals in Rome have an emergency room. You can find more information on Doctors in Italy’s website in this section.

5 –  Know the basic local medical terms

Hopefully, the only words you will need to use during your vacation in Rome are pizza, spaghetti alla carbonara, and grazie, but saving a few more useful phrases in your travel agenda cannot hurt:

I need a doctor – Ho bisogno di un medico

I am feeling sick – Mi sento male

Where is the nearest hospital? – Dov’e l’ospedale piu vicino?

I need a prescription – Ho bisogno di una prescrizione

Where is the pharmacy? – Dov’e la farmacia?

Call an ambulance – Chiama un ambulanza

Pain Relievers – Antidolorifici

Upset Stomach – Bruciore di stomaco

Diarrhea – Diarrhea

Dehydration – Deidratazione

Sleep Aids – Aiuti per il sonno

First-Aid  – Kit pronto soccorso


Visiting a foreign country is always an adventure. Taking a few preventive steps  and planning ahead of time, will not make your vacation any less adventurous, but might instead help you avoid uneasy situations,  spare precious time and fully enjoy your trip.