Medications and Travel: Plan Ahead

People often think of travel as a time when they can set aside normal routines and responsibilities, but medications shouldn’t take a back seat even when you’re on vacation. Otherwise you could find yourself in an unpleasant predicament away from home. Here are some things travellers should plan ahead for when travelling with medications.

Some medications that are legal in Canada, such as certain pain medications, are more heavily regulated or prohibited in other parts of the world. Be sure that you can take your medications into the countries you plan to visit. This information is available from Canadian embassies in those countries.

Some medications may not be available in other countries. Take enough of your prescription medication for your entire trip and for a few extra days in case of unexpected extensions to your time away. Do the same for any over-the-counter medicines you use regularly. If you use medications that require syringes to administer, don’t forget to take your supply of those too.

If you need to purchase medications while away, be aware that dosages may be different from your familiar brands. Read labels carefully and if possible consult a pharmacist, even for over-the-counter medicines.

When packing prescription or over-the-counter medications, the Government of Canada has several recommendations. Pack them in your carry-on baggage in their original, labelled containers for security and customs screening. Don’t combine medications into one container. Carry a copy of the original prescription with you; be sure it shows the generic and trade names of the medication. If possible, it’s also helpful to have a letter from your doctor to explain why you’re taking the medication.

For more information on travelling with your medicine, consult the Government of Canada Travelling with Medication website.