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Traveling with medications

Traveling with medications
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What precautions do you need to take if you are travelling with medications?

When you manage your health with a drug regime it adds a bit of complication to your travel plans. But by thinking ahead about the practicalities you can dodge some medication problems and manage others, leaving you with plenty of bandwidth to enjoy your trip.

Get medicines advice before you travel

Anyone who needs to travel with meds would be wise to ask their normal healthcare team for advice. At your appointment with Canadian Travel Clinics you can find out what conditions you can expect at your destination. This might include altitude, heat, humidity, cold or pollution. You may also need to check how your regime interacts with malaria tablets. Your normal healthcare team can tell you how to tweak your regime under these conditions.

It may also be worth having a talk with your pharmacist. Ask them if any of your meds are controlled drugs, and if they are, what steps you’ll need to take to ensure you do not run into legal or customs difficulties.

Remember to ask for a letter about your condition in case you need to get medical care while abroad. Copies of your prescription are useful, too. And ask for the details of your meds, including the generic name as well as the brand name.

For more thoughts on travelling with a long-term condition, see our travel health advice article.

How much medication should I travel with?

Take enough for the length of your trip, and then a little bit more to cover any delays. This is particularly relevant when you may find yourself needing to quarantine.

A good supply of medication is needed because you cannot rely on being able to obtain your usual meds at your destination. Different countries use different brands and preparations and if you have a finely tuned drug regime you don’t want to waste time and energy on your trip waiting to see if an alternative version of your medication works as expected.

Also, in remote areas or on an island there may be a delay in obtaining meds: you’ll have to wait for a delivery. And by relying on a local supply you may deprive a resident of their medication.

What are the rules about carrying medications?

Bear in mind that some countries have different rules about medications and drugs. For example, in Egypt certain common painkillers are illegal. Check the Government of Canada’s advisories for the country you are visiting to find out more. Keep all your medication in its original packaging – and this is where the copy of your prescription and a doctor’s letter come in handy.

How do I travel with medication that needs to be kept at a specific temperature?

Bear in mind that in very hot countries medications that need to be kept below 25°C must be refrigerated. Make arrangements with your accommodation if you need a fridge to store your meds.

How should I pack my meds for a business trip?

Medication that you need for the journey is best packed in your hand luggage, along with a copy of your prescription. You can also pack items you don’t need en route in your hold luggage, and this is a good precaution against losing your hand luggage. Speak to your airline if you have specific questions.

Meds should be kept in the original packaging – don’t decant it into pill boxes.

If your medication needs to be chilled use a cool bag or a thermos.

Need health advice for your next trip abroad?

Make an appointment today at one of Canadian Travel Clinic’s convenient city-centre locations.