A lot of time and effort can go into planning a vacation; amidst all the excitement, medications may be the furthest thing on your mind. However, thinking ahead can prevent stressful situations such as running out of medication. Here are a few tips to help make sure you look after your medications prior to travelling.
Research whether your stop-over or destination country has any specific requirements for vaccines or restrictions on particular medications.
- Some countries require a record of specific vaccinations, such as yellow fever. Make sure you meet the requirements and bring proper documentation with you.
- The laws and regulations surrounding medications can be different between countries. What is considered legal in Canada may potentially be problematic in other countries, and vice versa.
- Contact the country’s foreign government office in Canada if you have any questions about customs and medication status
- Check Canadian laws before you bring back medication that you purchased in a different country
Plan early to give yourself enough time to see your doctor.
- Schedule any appointments with your doctor well ahead of time, preferably six weeks before departure, to discuss whether you need:
- Prescription(s) for: refills of current medications, and/or preventing or treating certain travel-related illnesses, such as malaria, altitude sickness, or travellers’ diarrhea;
- A copy of your prescription(s) that describes why you are taking the medication;
- Vaccinations - some vaccines require multiple doses to be given over a certain length of time; book your appointment early to make sure you can get them all before you leave.
- Review your stock of prescription medications to make sure you have enough to last for the duration of your trip, preferably longer in case there are delays getting home
- Get your prescriptions filled in advance before you leave on your trip
Pack smart to make sure you always have medications close by.
- Keep medications in their original container with the prescription label attached
- Bring copies of prescriptions that explain why you are taking the medication
- If you are flying, make sure you bring medications and medical documents in your carry-on luggage
- Liquid medications are exempt from the limit you can bring on board; however, you will have to declare these and show them during X-ray screening
- Supplies for treating diabetes, such as needles and syringes, can be brought along in the carry-on luggage. However, make sure to pack medication that goes along with it (e.g. insulin)
- Speak to your pharmacist about which over-the-counter medications you might need for your trip
Travel with peace of mind. Speak to your pharmacist about how to store medications when travelling, how to adjust medication administration times, and ask them to help you double-check that you have all your medications before leaving home.
- Some medications have to be kept under specific storage conditions, such as in the fridge. Read here for more tips about storing medications.
- If you cross multiple time zones, you may have to adjust the time you take your medications.
- Do not purchase medications outside of Canada unless you consult a medical professional first. The quality and manufacturing can differ between countries, so it is best to bring your own supply as much as possible.
More information on this topic can also be found on Health Canada’s websites:
Remember, as soon as you start planning your vacation, speak to your pharmacist about how to travel worry-free with your medications. A little bit of planning can go a long way to ensure a bon voyage.