It is unlikely that you will encounter unusual health problems in Western Europe, and if you do, standards of care are world-class. It's vital to have health insurance for your trip.
Checking insurance quotes…
Before You Go
- If you're an EU citizen, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers you for most medical care.
- Some policies pay doctors or hospitals directly (generally preferable, as it doesn't require you to pay out-of-pocket costs in a foreign country), but most require you to pay upfront, save the documentation and then claim later. Some policies also ask you to call back (reverse charges) to a centre in your home country, where an immediate assessment of your problem is made.
- Check that the policy covers ambulances or an emergency flight home.
- Bring medications in their original, clearly labelled containers.
- Keep a list of your prescriptions (photocopies/scans/photos of the containers are good) including generic names, so you can get replacements if your bags go on holiday – carry this info separately.
- If you have health problems that may need treatment, bring a signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications.
- If carrying syringes or needles, have a physician's letter documenting their medical necessity.
- Carry a spare pair of contact lenses or glasses, and/or take your optical prescription with you.
No jabs are necessary for Western Europe. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, regardless of their destination. Since most vaccines don’t produce immunity until at least two weeks after they’re given, visit a doctor at least six weeks before departure.
In Western Europe
Availability & Cost of Healthcare
Excellent health care is widely available throughout Western Europe's tourist destinations, larger towns and cities. However, it can be costly if you don't have adequate insurance.
Tap water is generally safe to drink throughout Western Europe, and a pleasure in places where spring water forms the local supply. In some large cities, where the pipes are old or the groundwater is heavily mineralised, such as Brussels and Paris, many residents prefer to drink bottled water. Ask locally to check the situation in your destination.