Americans sick while on vacation in Europe? USA Medical Repatriation in an air ambulance is the solution

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The intricate history, the art, the culture, and the myriad of places with each country having a distinctive and unique appeal to vacationers makes Europe one of the top destinations for American Citizens. Every year, millions of Americans, notably ‘snowbirds’, (vacationers who migrate from the colder areas of Northern America to warmer areas)  head to the peninsula of peninsulas to escape from the winter and spend their vacations. At the end of 2022, the European Union will introduce ETIAS, European Travel Information and Authorization System. This will allow US citizens to travel to any country in the Schengen Area after processing an application online. 

While some of the top destinations for Americans in Europe are Spain, Portugal, Canary islands, Malta and Italy, vacationers have to be mindful of medical emergencies that can occur while they are on vacation. If you are an American citizen suffering from sickness or injury abroad, Medical Air Service can organize the medical repatriation of snowbirds back home in an air ambulance or with a medical escort. 

Top destinations in Europe for US Citizens

While France, with the romantic Paris and Eiffel Tower and other iconic cities such as Lyon, Nice, and Bordeaux and Germany with its many events/festivals and river cruises, are among the top destinations for US citizens, other countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy or Cyprus are ideal for Americans looking for a warm retreat to escape the winter. 

Some of top touristic destinations for US snowbirds include: 

  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Canary islands
  • Malta
  • Italy 


Thanks to its dry and sunny climate, beautiful cities and attractive resorts with kitchen amenities and villas, Spain attracts millions of tourists. Its amazing cities (Barcelona, Madrid…) and islands (Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca) cater to the dreams of various types of travelers. Let’s not forget Costa del Sol, which gives the impression that it has been built for tourists! 


Portugal is among the top European tourist destinations for Americans because of its mild climate, affordability in the winter months and its golf courses! With 90 golf courses designed by top golf architects in the world, snowbirds find Portugal to be the perfect destination. An abundance of fresh seafood, great wines and castles equal to the perfect vacation. The iconic ‘The Algarve’ which is the most southern part of Portugal has a great tourism infrastructure. 


With its pleasant weather and sun even during the winter months, Italy is great for snowbirds. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, it attracts millions of tourists every year thanks to its impressive architecture, cities of art such as Rome, Venice and Florence, soaring mountains and its beautiful coastline. The Bel Paese is ideal for snowbirds looking for a nature retreat with good food, wine and pleasant weather. 


Canary islands

One of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations and famous for having "the best climate in the world", Canary islands is made up of the volcanic islands Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Gomero, Tenerife and the smaller islands of  El Hierro & La Graciosa. If you have never heard of black and white beaches, Canary islands should be part of your next vacations plans. 


This archipelago in the central Mediterranean is famous for its historical places, rich culture and pristine beaches. Offering a sense of adventure, Malta attracts more than a million of tourists every year and is a popular port call for Mediterranean cruises. Popular areas for tourists in Malta are Valetta, Sliema, St Julian’s and The St Paul’s Bay area. 

Europe’s appeal for American tourists 

Most Americans who have been to European countries once are eager to visit again. The appeal of Europe is as such that it is an exotic destination for US citizens living on both the East Coast and the West coast, despite the differences in their lifestyles and preferences. The East Coast is mostly known for its busy and fast-paced hubs such as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Massachusetts and people constantly running around. For these US citizens, vacations are a period where they can slow down, relax and recharge. This is exactly what the beautiful cities and countries in Europe offer. With their three hours dinners, beautiful architecture and rich history, snowbirds can adopt a completely different lifestyle. 

In fact, European countries are considered to be exotic to Americans. The vastness and diversity of places such as Rome, Sicily, London, Paris or others and the rich history is a matter of intrigue for even the comparatively more laid-back West Coast. States like Washington, Montana, California, Oregon or even Arizona are no exception when it comes to being fascinated by the history, arts, culture and architecture of Europe. Let’s not forget the general infrastructure (public transport, accommodation, language etc.) of Europe which is convenient for tourists, making it easier for them to have great vacations. 

Traveling to Europe when sick: A guide for Americans

An important factor that is often overlooked when planning a vacation is the eventuality of becoming sick abroad. Deterioration of your health and a ruined vacation… This would be the result if there is no proper planning. One of the most important steps while planning a vacation in Europe would be to get the appropriate travel insurance. It is always recommended to get an insurance that covers medical repatriation in case of a medical emergency that requires emergency medical repatriation to the US from Europe

Considering that some of the most common diseases in the US are diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, chronic lower respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s, cancer and other mental health conditions, let’s explore the precautions that these patients should take when going to Europe. 

Tips for traveling to Europe with diabetes

When flying with diabetes, it is important to: 

  • Check with your doctor if you are fit to fly 
  • Pack extra insulin diabetes medications
  • Pack a letter from your doctor and your prescription
  • Pack healthy snacks and inform your airline company in advance of your condition
  • Check your blood sugar level before any activity while on holiday
  • Do not be excessively tempted by  buffets 
  • Avoid excessive physical activities

Proper planning, constantly monitoring your blood sugar levels and taking the necessary precautions will ensure that you can have fun during your vacations. 

man and son on vacation

Tips for traveling to Europe with obesity and heart diseases 

The danger of obesity is that it comes with a whole lot of additional complications. The probability of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke or heart diseases is higher among people suffering from obesity. 

If you suffer from obesity, when planning a vacation, be sure to: 

  • Get a medical examination done in case of underlying conditions such as high blood pressure or heath problems. 
  • Book your seat in advance
  • Try to negotiate for a comfortable or roomier seat
  • Be early to the airport to avoid the risk of exhaustion

If you already have a heart condition

  • Make sure to pack your essential medications
  • Have a doctor’s note on hand 
  • Plan a relaxing holiday without a lot of activities
  • Avoid extremely hot or cold temperatures
  • Have your doctor’s numbers and another emergency contacts on hand

Traveling to Europe with Alzheimer’s and other mental health conditions  

While a vacation is a relaxing and fun experience, it can be the opposite for someone with a mental health condition. For instance, drastic changes might be stressful and exacting for people with dementia. When it comes to Alzheimer’s, the early stages allow patients to travel alone with proper planning. 

As such, it is important to consult a professional first to determine whether your mental condition allows you to travel on your own. In cases of mental health conditions, it is often recommended to travel with a loved one or a professional to ensure a safe and smooth journey. 

What happens in case of a medical emergency while on holiday in Europe? 

Despite proper planning and all the precautions, the eventuality of becoming sick while on holiday in Europe should not be overlooked, especially for vacationers already suffering from a medical condition. In case of a fall, an accident, a sickness or an injury, is it better to obtain medical treatment in Europe or to get back home to the US?   

The first factor influencing your decision is the extent of your sickness and injury. In cases of immediate recovery, the most evident course of action will be to recover in Europe and to enjoy the rest of your vacation. However, more serious diseases or injuries might require medical repatriation back to the US for a better recovery. 

Healthcare quality: US v/s Europe

The healthcare quality in major European countries is generally high. European countries with some of the best healthcare systems across the globe are Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France or even Italy. However, the same cannot be said for Romania or Poland. Comparatively, the US has a higher level of healthcare, with world-famous hospitals such as Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins Hospital, Cleveland Clinic or UCLA Medical Center

mayo clinic

Besides the healthcare quality in Europe, one of the major drivers of medical repatriation back to the US is the moral support obtained from family and friends. An injury abroad can be stressful and being on your own might hamper on your recovery. This is one of the major reasons why our COVID-19 patients prefer to be repatriated back home instead of being all alone in a foreign country. 

Medical Repatriation from Europe for Americans: How to get to the US from Europe?

For a quick, efficient and safe way to get back to the US from Europe, medical repatriation via an air ambulance is the most viable option. What is an air ambulance?

An air ambulance is a medical aircraft, fitted with medical equipment and doctors and paramedics as cabin crew. With equipment similar to that in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), even patients with high-risk diseases can travel overseas safely

In case of an injury or sickness in Europe, Americans on vacation can contact Medical Air Service for an air ambulance to get back home in the US. Medical Air Service can arrange for an air ambulance flight for you usually within two days of the booking being made. Taking care of the organisation of the whole medical flight, we can customize the equipment in our air ambulances to cater your medical needs, call on specialist doctors and can even arrange for ground transportation, wherever you are in Europe. 

Important note: Medical Air Service also offers a medical escort service for patients who are fit enough to on a commercial plane but require constant medical supervision. These would be the elderly, patients with mild sicknesses or patients with mental health conditions. We will select an expert based on the patient’s condition and suited to his personality. 

Benefits of booking a medical flight with Medical Air Service

Medical Air Service ensures that when you book an air ambulance with us, you are provided with the best service, whether it is in terms of pricing, organization or the actual transport. 

We have significant experience conducting Medical Flights to and from the United States. Have a look at some of the benefits of booking a medical flight with Medical Air Service: 

  • Expert agents available on a 24-hour basis: you can contact us at any time and on any day to book an air ambulance or for a free consultation. 
  • Customized air ambulance quote: We will create a customized quotation for you based on your route and other factors—our guarantee: no hidden fees and no extra costs for services you do not need. 
  • A dedicated agent for your case, supported by a team of aviation experts. 
  • Medical plane with the latest state of the art equipment
  • Constant supervision and care all throughout the patient transport journey
  • Bed-to-bed service: We arrange for both airport transfers in a ground ambulance. 
  • Treatment and care from specialist doctors experienced in the aeromedical sector
  • We handle administrative and clearance procedures
  • No waiting time for the availability of a plane; we can usually arrange for an air ambulance two days after the booking has been made. 

USA Air ambulance for COVID-19 patients 

Our air ambulances can also cater to COVID-19 patients. While you might not be allowed on board a commercial plane if you test positive for COVID-19, you can easily cross the ocean on an air ambulance or a private jet. 

repatriation plane

We have special isolation equipment to transport patients showing symptoms and needing care, protecting everyone involved in the patient transport process from contagion. Patients who are asymptomatic and fit can travel on their own in a private jet

In both cases, we take all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the medical flight and we get you back to your loved ones without any delay. 

Contact us for an USA air ambulance from Europe 

If you are on vacation in Europe and you need an air ambulance back to the United States, just get in touch with us. Our agents are available at any time for a free consultation session. They will advise you on the air ambulance service you need and will provide a free non-obligation quotation.

Get in touch now