Traveling with medication is complicated. Sometimes, the prescribed medicine we need to take for chronic conditions, like Alzheimer’s or hypertension, or simple, over-the-counter pills for headaches might get us into trouble with airport security. Whether you’re traveling for business, visiting family overseas, going on holiday, or even moving overseas – these are the things to know about bringing medication across international borders.
Start your preparations early
Take some time to visit your doctor or pharmacist well before flying off. Stock up on all the medication you need to avoid any last-minute issues. Consider bringing extra, in case of emergencies, but be sure to double check the limit you can bring. Verify if any medication needs to be stored at a specific temperature.
Make sure you have on you either a doctor’s note, a note from the hospital, or prescription forms explaining the reason for the medication and what exactly the medication is. Remember to have it translated, if necessary.
Prepare for worst-case scenarios when traveling with medication, for example, if you lose all your medication, by having your doctor put together a comprehensive list of what medication you need and the best alternatives available.
If you are traveling across time zones but need to take your medication at regular intervals, consult your doctor to work out a thorough plan. Use apps like Halza to schedule reminders on when to take your medication.
Be sure to also get the right type of travel insurance. Consult your insurance provider beforehand to clarify what they can cover. You should ensure your insurance covers the cost of losing your medication or for seeking medical consultation or treatment. Take time to compare insurance policies for the best protection in unfortunate situations like having lost baggage or medical emergencies.
Remember to also have some extra medication for when you return home and are too tired or overwhelmed to make a visit to your doctor to replenish your stock!
Do your research
Familiarize yourself with international and national drug transportation rules. Read through the international agreements concerning the transportation of medication across borders on the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) website. Do some additional research online or visit the local embassy of the country you are visiting to check if any specific medications are prohibited. And definitely, don’t forget about layover destinations as they might also have rules of their own!
Drugs like Diazepam, while available with a prescription in some countries, are banned in places with zero-tolerance drug policy like the UAE. Reading up on and identifying which types of medication have typically stricter regulations can make passing through airport security easier.
Medication classified as narcotics and psychotropics can influence the Central Nervous System (CNS) and have the potential to be abused. Travelers carrying these types of medication should be wary of each country’s rules and ready to show the proper documentation when needed. Remember, what is considered over-the-counter in some countries may be a controlled substance in others.
If there are any issues bringing your specific type of medication into the country you are visiting, talk to your doctor about any alternatives that target the same problem you’re facing.
Packing well helps minimize the stress of traveling with medication and makes finding specific things easier. Organize your medication properly and keep them in their original, clearly-labeled containers. Remember to hand carry your medication to prevent the risk of losing it all if your checked baggage goes missing.
Temperature-sensitive medication should also be hand carried as the cargo hold on an aircraft does not regulate the temperature. Transfer medications that need to be kept cool directly from your home fridge to a cooler bag and ask the cabin crew for ice to maintain the temperature, if necessary. Depending on the airline, you might also be able to ask the cabin crew if they can store your medication in the airline refrigerator!
How Halza can help
Having a digital copy of the prescription or a doctor’s note explaining your medication is helpful when traveling with medication. The Halza app lets you store this information, making it accessible at a moment’s notice, all from your phone. Schedule periodic medicine reminders to keep track of when you have to take your medicine, even across time zones, and never miss a dose. Enable push notifications to get reminders, especially during hectic moments.
If you are traveling with family members who also require medication, the Family Accounts feature makes it easier to manage their medicine intake. And if you need to visit a doctor and grant them access to your medical information while on vacation overseas, don’t worry about translation. Halza can be easily switched to 20+ languages.