Packing medications can require a little thought and forward planning before jetting off abroad. As the current getaway season gears up, here are a few things to consider when travelling with medication.
Check what restrictions apply
Each country has its own rules for transporting medication. Plus, drugs sold in one country could be illegal in another, which could land travellers in hot water. Usually, a current, valid prescription is sufficient to justify the presence of medication in your luggage, but not always. To avoid any nasty surprises, it's worth contacting the embassy or consulate of your destination country for more detailed information. The official website of your airline should also provide information on carrying medication.
Take enough medication for the whole trip
It's better to plan ahead and bring enough medication to cover the whole duration of your trip. It's even worth packing a little more than necessary, just in case. Most medications can be stored at room temperature with no specific precautions. Where possible, look for forms of medication that are most resistant to changes in temperature or humidity (tablets, capsules, vials). It's advisable to keep a copy of the prescription with you at all times and to have a backup copy in digital format ready to download from the cloud or an email if necessary.
Look up the International Nonproprietary Name (INN)
Since medications aren't always sold under the same name in different countries, it can be useful to know the generic name of the drug or active ingredient in each of your medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for help finding the International Nonproprietary Name (INN) of your treatments. An application, called "Convert Drugs Premium," developed by a French pharmacist, can be used to find equivalent drugs in 220 countries. It's available in 11 languages for iOS devices and can be used offline.
Put some of your meds in carry-on baggage
Even if you don't need medication during the flight, it's a good idea to carry some of your stock in your hand luggage. That way, if hold luggage is lost or delayed, you'll have enough to keep you going while sorting out the problem. It's better to keep medication in its original packaging to avoid any ambiguity when heading through customs.
Beware of counterfeits when buying abroad
Counterfeit medication can be a real problem in certain countries. The best way to stay safe is to avoid buying medication altogether when travelling abroad. However, you may have to stock up at a local pharmacy if you fall ill, if the supply you brought from home gets lost, stolen or confiscated, or if a trip ends up being longer than expected. A list of reliable outlets can usually be provided by your country's embassy. Finally, if you notice any unusual side effects, let your doctor or pharmacist know as soon as possible and show them the medication you bought.