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Medicines & Travel


Whether you are traveling domestically or internationally, you would not want an illness to disrupt either your vacation or business plans. This means planning well, managing your medications wisely, and consulting your physician or pharmacist about proper precautions to take before you leave home:

Many medications can cause “photosensitivity,” or increased sensitivity to sunlight.

  • Even if you do not usually sunburn, taking medications that cause this reaction could greatly increase your chances of getting a bad burn. Your pharmacist can advise you about whether your medication can cause photosensitivity and recommend the right SPF (skin protection factor) for your skin type.

If you are flying, keep your medications in your carry-on luggage so that you have access to them during your flight and will not lose them in the event that your luggage gets lost.

  • Plus, keeping your medications with you helps prevent exposure to extreme temperatures in the baggage compartment, which can alter the drug’s effectiveness. Keep in mind that airport security requires that your medications be transported in their original, labeled containers.

If your medication requires you to use a syringe – insulin, for instance – you may need to carry your prescription with you to ensure that you can pass through airport security.

  • You (diabetic patient) should be prepared to provide airport security personnel with copies of prescriptions for diabetes medications and supplies as well as complete contact information for the prescriber.

Make sure that you carry your prescriber’s and your pharmacy’s phone numbers with you when you are away from home.

  • In case you lose your medications, you may need a new prescription. You should also keep on hand a list of all your prescriptions.

If you are traveling through several time zones, consult with your physician or pharmacist to work out a specific plan for adjusting the timing and dosage of your medications.

  • This will prevent you from taking too much or too little.

If you are visiting a foreign country, beware of buying “over-the-counter” medications.

  • Many medicines that are available by prescription are available “over the counter” in other countries. Some of these medications could have different ingredients, and may not undergo comparable quality control. Buying these medications could put you at risk for allergic reactions, drug interactions, or other problems.

If you are visiting a hot, humid climate, be sure to keep your medications in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

  • Do not store medications in the glove compartment of your car. Bathroom was found to be the worst place to store your medication due to heat and humidity.

Take along more medication than the number of days you have planned to be away

  • This will allow you to be prepared for unexpected delays.


Last reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Kamariah Shamsinar bt. Kamarul Baharin
    Rosidah bt. Md. Din
Reviewer : Muhamad Rizalmazli bin Salim