Travelling With Medication
What to do (and what not to do)
By the time we’re old enough and wise enough to do some serious travelling, most of us also have one or two medicines that we take on a daily basis. Here are our top tips for safe and healthy travel with those meds.
1. Don’t leave home without your meds!
Travelling, even for a few days, is no reason to skip a dose. In fact, it’s more important than ever to continue with your regular routine and keep your health in check when you’re away from home.
2. Pack extra
In the insurance industry, we’ve learned to expect the unexpected. Always pack more medicines than you need for your trip in case you’re delayed and have to stay an extra day or two, or in case you lose a pill or two. It happens to all of us!
If you’re travelling for 5 days, take enough medication to last you at least 7 days. This is especially important on a cruise where you may not be able to get the medication you usually take, or if it’s available it’s likely to be very expensive.
3. Keep it close
Whenever possible, keep all medication in your hand luggage – don’t check it in. Suitcases go missing far too often, and while we can shop for extra clothing it’s a lot more difficult to replace lost medication.
If you can’t carry all of it, at least keep enough for your journey plus two extra days in your hand luggage.
Some medication can never go in your checked baggage. Insulin is the most common example – it must be kept relatively cool but if it freezes, it’s rendered completely useless. The hold of an airplane is usually not heated and freezing is a strong possibility.
Keep all insulin in your hand luggage, in a cooler bag and/or with a small ice pack. Airport security staff do allow these for medical purposes, as long as they’re small and clearly marked. If in doubt, check with your airline.
4. List it for your travel insurance policy
Make sure that you have listed all relevant medical conditions and medication to your travel insurer.
This will ensure that you have the appropriate cover and in case you need medical treatment, will help emergency teams and medical professionals to give you the right medication and the best possible care.
5. Carry a copy of your prescription
Certain medication and equipment such as ice packs and monitoring devices may raise alarms with airport security. Always carry your prescription to prove that you have a genuine need for what you’re carrying.
A prescription is also useful in case medication is lost or damaged, and makes it a lot easier to purchase replacements while you’re on holiday.
6. Check that it’s allowed
Some countries have different regulations regarding medication and substances allowed through their borders. It’s always a good idea to check on all medication before you leave so you don’t inadvertently carry contraband headache pills across a border!
Also check the quantity of medication that you're allowed to take with you - some countries may limit certain types.
7. Speak to your doctor
Whenever you travel, give your doctor the details so he or she can advise if you need to make any changes to your usual schedule or dosage. Even a small adjustment can make a big difference to your health.
If you’re going to a very different time zone, e.g. Australia, find out the best way to adjust your schedule accordingly.
8. Planes, trains and automobiles
It can be difficult to unpack medicines while you're in a confined space. Make life easier in the air or on the road by setting aside the medicines you'll need during a flight or in transit.
For example, if you take 2 pills in the morning and 3 every evening, put one each of the morning set into a small container, and one evening set in another. Label them, and keep them in your handbag or a section of your cabin bag that’s easy to get to! This makes it so much simpler to find the medication and take it discreetly.
9. Make a list
Plan ahead and prepare a complete checklist of what you need to pack. Make sure you have everything you need at least a few days before you leave so there’s time to sort out any issues.
Hopefully there won’t be any problems, but this will give you greater peace of mind so you can focus on enjoying your travels!
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