5 Tips for Taking Your Meds When You Travel

Traveling with prescription medications can pose some unexpected problems that can create havoc on a trip. To avoid problems, plan ahead.

  1. Bring your prescriptions in their original containers that are properly and clearly labeled. Don’t bring pill minders, mix different pills in one bottle or put them in resealed plastic bags.
  2. Take enough for your trip plus a week or two extra in case of delays so you won’t run out.
  3. Carry all prescriptions with you on the plane. Do not put them in checked bags.  They might not make it to your destination.
  4. Forget your vitamins or other non-essential items.
  5. Find out if it’s legal to bring your prescription into the country you are traveling to. Drugs like Adderall are illegal in many countries even if legally prescribed in the U.S. Over the counter preparations with Sudafed are illegal in Japan.

If you lose a prescription or run out of medication abroad, pharmacies are unlikely to accept prescriptions called or faxed by your U.S. provider.


Travel Tip Tuesday – Lost on Vacation

Traveling can be disorienting- new environment, different language, changing hotels frequently, along with fatigue and jet lag. If you are traveling with a group, you may not be paying as close attention to where you are or where you are staying.  You need to know how to reconnect if you get separated from your group.

Got a cell phone? Take a picture of your hotel.  You can show this to someone to help you find your way back, even if you don’t speak the language. If they have a business card or match book, take one and keep it with you.

Make a plan.  Decide where you will meet, if you get separated each day. Know where your group is headed next.   Wear a watch to keep track of the time. Ask your tour guide the best way to contact them if you get separated from the gang. Your bus may not pick you up where you got dropped off.

Travel Tip Tuesday- These shoes were made for walking

Shoes take up a lot of valuable packing space. Choose which shoes you will bring on your trip wisely. Think function rather than fashion.

  • A must- comfortable walking shoes that are already broken in for walking, exercising and during travel.
  • A cheap pair of flip flops to wear in a pool area, in the bathroom or shower. Best not to go barefoot anywhere. You never know what you might step on.
  • A pair you can wear comfortably that will be appropriate if you have to dress up. Make sure you can also walk good distances in these without pain.  If you know you won’t have to dress up, omit these.

While we all want to look good, find shoes that are practical, light weight and pack well and ok, look good, too.

Hurricane Season

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the hurricane and typhoon seasons in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Check out what’s happening to see how your travel plans may be impacted by weather.

Questions about Vaccines?

Getting shots to protect you from disease when you travel is a big part of a visit to a travel clinic. You may be getting shots for diseases you may have never even heard of before. Your travel health specialist can help you decide which shots make sense for you get based on where you are going, when you are going and what you might be doing while you are there. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) produces handouts called Vaccine Information Statements or VIS’s for every vaccine for kids and adults. These are available in over 35 languages.

VIS explain what the disease is, who should get it, and when it is given. It lists who should not get the vaccine and what the risks and possible reactions might be. This way you can weigh the risks and the benefits and decide how to best protect yourself from vaccine preventative diseases when you travel.

Now What?

“I just booked a trip to(a great destination outside the USA – fill in the blank)and I
don’t want to get sick or injured. There is so much information out there. I don’t want to be paranoid or foolish and I don’t want to spend a fortune. What do I do?”

Research a little first. Get some information about your destination and think about some of the activities you might do there. The CDC web site is compact, user friendly, complete and current. Start a folder either paper or electronic and keep your information all together. Get a current copy of all your immunizations.

Visit a travel clinic before you see your PCP. Travel health is a lot more than just shots. You may need some immunizations and sometimes they must be given in a certain order to be effective. At Travel Health of NH, we review the required, recommended and routine vaccinations and make a plan- which ones you actually need, a schedule to receive them and the least expensive way to do this. You will also get prescriptions for malaria prevention and self treatment of many common travel related health problems individualized for you and your trip.

Get travel health insurance. At least emergency evacuation insurance. Most US health plans don’t cover travel related health expenses at all or very poorly. To compare options go to www.insuremytrip.com. What might seem like a simple problem here, isn’t in many other countries. Accidents and injuries are the leading cause of serious health problems for travelers.

Pack a basic first aid kit. Consider water purification system (SteriPen), sea sickness acupressure bands, analgesics, antacids, think about common products you use that may be nonexistent where you are going.

Make a list of important numbers. Make a file and scan a copy of your passport, include emergency travel health information, past medical history and med list, immunization record, international phone number to report loss or theft of a credit card and email it to yourself. You can access email almost anywhere in the world. There are programs like mail2web.com to retrieve email if you don’t use a major account such as Gmail or yahoo.

Plan ahead, prepare and you’ll have a lot less to worry about when you travel.

It’s not too late for a flu shot

Flu shots in February? Yes. Flu is active all over the U.S. Getting a flu shot during flu season can still help protect you. Flu season sometimes lasts into May. If you get vaccinated now, your full immunity may take about 2 weeks , but you do get some protection right away. Limited protection is still better than no protection.
Flying on an airplane this winter will increase your chances of getting sick. Let’s say you are headed on vacation. You are flying for several hours in an enclosed area with lots of people from all over the world, all breathing the same air and touching the same surfaces. Now, add to that, that the humidity of air in an airplane is close to that of the Sahara dessert.
Our mucous membranes that line our mouths and noses are our main defense against viral invasion. Dry air caused micro cracks in mucous membranes that then act as open doors to the viruses you inhale. It is estimated that your risk of catching a cold on an airplane is 100 times that of exposure on the ground. So, in about 1-2 days, the average incubation period for influenza virus, you come down with the flu- fever, chills, cough. You know the feeling. Not only have you ruined your vacation, but then in a few days you’ll get on a plane to head home where someone else is going to breath your air and the whole process just continues.
So, why not just get a flu shot? Call your primary care provider or travel clinic. It’s not too late and there is no shortage of vaccine.