8 tips for travelling with your medication

Quelqu'un remplit sa valise

Diabetes, heart condition, asthma... Your current health condition requires you to regularly take prescription drugs. So how can you follow your treatment plan when you travel abroad for one or more weeks? Here are 8 tips for travelling with your medication with peace of mind!

1. Make sure it’s allowed

Before you pack your bags, find the answer to the most vital question: can your medication (This hyperlink will open in a new tab) board the plane with you? If the answer is yes, are there any conditions? You should know that some meds may have been approved by Health Canada but still forbidden in other countries.

So is your medication legal in the country you intend to visit, especially if it’s hard to come by? Find out by contacting the relevant agencies in the country you’re visiting.

You could also contact the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (This hyperlink will open in a new tab). They will guide you through your passage at the airport and help you comply with the security measures in place.

2. Hold on to the original container

Don’t try to save space in your suitcase by shoving all your meds in a pillbox. Leave them in their original labelled containers. By travelling with them in your carry-on bag, it will make it easier for you to pass through customs.

3. Your prescription: never leave home without it!

Always bring a copy of the original prescription which includes the following information:

  • Generic name of your medication
  • Commercial name of your medication

Also ask your doctor for a note that explains the reason you’re taking the medication.

You’ll need a copy of the prescription in case the customs agents ask to see it. And should your meds get lost or stolen, it will come in handy.

4. Better more than less

Be extra cautious and bring more meds than you’ll need. What if an unforeseen event extends your stay? You’ll be happy you brought the extra doses along.

Even more reassuring, you won’t worry about your health. Being cautious also means you won’t stress out. Purchasing your medication in some foreign countries can be extremely complicated.

5. Breeze through customs

How should you store (This hyperlink will open in a new tab) your prescription drugs? Keep them in a separate bag in your carry-on.

When clearing customs, get in the line reserved for families and for people with special needs. The agents are specially trained to answer your questions about medications and medical supplies.

Show them your bag of medications. It should go smoothly.

6. Once abroad

It’s best not to purchase medication outside of Canada unless it’s specifically recommended by your healthcare professional.

7. Beware prejudices

It may be hard to believe, but some meds come with negative perceptions. For example, contraception methods such as Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and certain anti-depressants. Some may not be accepted based on the culture and laws of your destination country.

If you take them, you may become vulnerable or raise concerns that wouldn’t be an issue in Canada.

8. What if your medication contains controlled substances?

Before you book your trip, check with your healthcare professionals if your medication contains controlled substances.

These include:

  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Methadone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Barbiturates
  • Pentobarbital
  • Amphetamines
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Zolpidem
  • Lorazepam
  • Alprazolam

There are many requirements that apply depending on the controlled substance (This hyperlink will open in a new tab) and the location you intend to visit. Best to be informed before you book rather than risk having your meds confiscated at the border.

Travel with peace of mind

Visiting a foreign country soon? If you have to bring your meds, just make sure they’re legal. While you’re at it, find out how it works for essential non-prescription medications (This hyperlink will open in a new tab). Happy travels, wherever you go!