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IBX Insights

Urgent Care and Retail Clinics: What to Do When You Get Sick While Traveling

By July 10, 2019December 30th, 2022Health Insurance Member Resources
A little girl blows her nose on the beach, as her mother comforts her.

four years old blonde child blowing her nose with a tissue, next to woman mother at Beach Bolonia in Tarifa, Cadiz, Andalusia, Spain

It’s never fun to be sick, but it’s especially unpleasant when you’re on vacation. Getting sick not only ruins the fun and relaxation of vacation, it can also feel overwhelming to have to figure out where to go to get care. So, where do you start?

It was a question I recently faced myself. My summer go-to destination is the Jersey shore, and during one trip I found myself in need of immediate care. Instead of enjoying the sand and surf of Long Beach Island, I was so sick to my stomach I could barely stand. It wasn’t an emergency, but I needed a doctor — and fast. With the help of, I located an urgent care center just a few miles away. I headed in, was diagnosed and given a prescription for the virus that was attempting to ruin my vacation, and was feeling better in just a few hours.

Urgent Care Centers

When your symptoms are not life threatening and do not require the need for emergency care, the best option for travelers is locating a local urgent care facility. Urgent care centers are medical facilities that employ board-certified doctors and can help patients with cuts, sprains, sinus infections, nausea, and much more. You don’t need an appointment, and they often have night and weekend hours, since injuries and illnesses don’t always occur during the day!

Urgent care centers are also the more affordable option for patients that do not have a true emergency. Emergency rooms (ER) employ specialty doctors for emergency care, and their resources are meant to be at the ready for those who truly need them. As a result, care through an ER doesn’t come cheap. A report by the Health Care Cost Institute found that the average cost for a single outpatient emergency room visit was $1,917. Costs for urgent care visits average out to about $150, depending on your insurance plan.

This combination of convenience and affordability has made urgent care centers very popular — as of November 2018 there were 8,774 urgent care facilities in operation across the U.S., which also means that no matter where you are there’s a good chance there’s an urgent care just down the road. It also makes urgent care a great choice for busy travelers that need care but are not able to see their regular primary care physician.

Retail Clinics

If your symptoms are not serious and don’t involve the need for stitches, X-rays, or casts, you can also enjoy the convenience of a retail clinic for your care. Retail clinics are usually within local pharmacies and employ certified nurse practitioners who can treat minor, uncomplicated illnesses and injuries, such as fevers and colds, rashes, bumps, and scrapes. Just like with an urgent care center there is no need for an appointment, and the care is covered with a copay or coinsurance through your insurance plan.

Your Health Information Can Travel With You

Whether you head to an urgent care center or a retail clinic for care during your travels, having your most recent medical information available is helpful for the health care professional you see, especially if you have a history of any medical conditions.

Make sure you have registered on before you leave home. With and the IBX App, you can search for urgent care centers and retail clinics — you can even use your phone’s GPS to geo-locate one if you don’t know the area too well. You can also access an electronic version of you member ID card, see a history of claims and prescriptions, and more.

And don’t forget — when you return home from vacation, urgent care centers and retail clinics are still great options for convenient and affordable health care.

Lauren Woolley

I am a Senior Account Executive with 11 years in high profile account penetration and book of business management. I am responsible for retaining and growing a book of business made up of large (1,000+) local and national accounts.