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Long-term conditions

Long-term conditions
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Tips for travellers with a medical condition

Would-be travellers with medical conditions such as asthma, HIV or hypertension may feel that holidays and business trips are not for them. But medical conditions that are under control should not stop anyone from enjoying travel as a rewarding, fruitful experience.

Before you depart

Your normal healthcare provider will give you specific, tailored advice to help you anticipate the effect of heat, altitude and humidity on your condition. They can help you organize an extra supply of your medication for you to carry. Letters and notes about your condition are also useful, and copies of your prescriptions, too. Finally, they may also have some information for you to share with your travel health adviser.

If you wear a medic alert bracelet, consider getting the information translated into the local language.

Get your shots

Travel shots are particularly important if you have an underlying health condition as you may be more susceptible to infections. Make an appointment with a travel health adviser eight to six weeks before you go. Your appointment is confidential so tell them about your condition as this will inform their decisions.

Your travel health adviser will also give you some tips to help you avoid food- and water-borne illnesses. They can advise on sun safety and also avoiding insect bites and tick bites. Your adviser can help you find a regime of anti-malarials that works for you, too. There are branches of Canadian Travel Clinics in Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat and Okotoks.


Your provincial health insurance will not cover you when you are travelling abroad, and you will need specialist travel health insurance. Look for policies that come with a helpline so that you can get advice for minor problems quickly.

Can I travel with my medication?

Some countries have different rules about medications and drugs. For example, in The Gambia certain medications, such as codeine and diazepam, are illegal. See the Government of Canada’s Travel advisories for the country you are visiting.

Your medication is best stored in its original packaging rather than in pill boxes. Bring a copy of your prescription, and a doctor’s letter, too.

Will I be able to obtain my medication abroad?

Depending on where you are, it may be difficult to obtain the exact brand that you use at home. This is why it is best to carry your own supply. In some places, for example, on islands, you may have to wait for a delivery of your medication to come in by boat.

What if my condition flares up?

Your trip may be completely uneventful – but just in case you do have health problems, make a plan. You are already an expert in your own condition, and your everyday first aid tips will apply while you are on holiday. You may wish to familiarize yourself with the emergency number at your destination, and to work out which hospital or healthcare centre you would attend.

A letter from your doctor explaining your condition may be helpful to a medic treating you abroad, and also the notes from your last appointment.