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.

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Bugs and Bowels

No one likes having diarrhea or vomiting but it can be really miserable when you are far from home. Despite following food and water precautions, you might still get sick when you travel especially to Mexico and under developed countries.

If you are having significant diarrhea without vomiting and you have a prescription for an antibiotic such as ciprofloxin or azithromycin, start it. You may feel much better after one dose.  Prescriptions such as these are given at your pre travel consultation.  (Didn’t go to a travel clinic before your trip? Don’t make that mistake again.)

If you are vomiting, start with about a tablespoon of bottled water, tea, soda, or juice every 10 -15 minutes.  If that doesn’t stay down, try a teaspoon every 10 minutes. If you have access to ice made with bottled water, suck on some ice chips. Some fluid can get absorbed through your mouth and feels good. If you have oral rehydration solution, mix that with bottled water to replace electrolytes. Avoid sports drinks as they are designed to replace fluids lost from perspiration not the stomach tract. Gradually add fluids and food as you feel better. If you just have water, add some foods with  salt such as potato chips or pretzels.

The blue areas indicate countries with high risk of traveler’s diarrhea.

Staying hydrated is very important , especially in a hot humid climate. If you have severe abdominal pain, a fever, or can’t hold anything down, develop blood in your stools, get very thirsty and continue to feel worse, seek health care.

Be sure to plan ahead for treating vomiting and diarrhea when away by bringing a prescription for an antibiotic, a thermometer, and oral rehydration salt packets.