Top Tips on taking medicine on holiday

Along with the sun cream and mosquito spray, most well-prepared holidaymakers slip into their suitcase a few medications including cold remedies, stomach settlers and pain killers. But even over-the-counter items could be banned in some countries, warns Mondial Assistance UK. Holidaymakers need to plan ahead when travelling with prescription drugs. Mondial Assistance offers travellers advice on taking medication abroad and making sure they don’t get on the wrong side of local laws.

Travellers who take regular medication should make sure they have enough to last throughout their trip, plus some extra in case of delays or a pack getting lost along the way. In addition, holidaymakers should check with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to make sure their medication won't cause a problem when travelling.

It is also a good idea for travellers to carry medication in more than one bag, in case luggage goes missing or is delayed. They should also keep their prescription with them when going through customs and security.

In some countries, medications available over-the-counter in the UK could be illegal. For example, Japan has very strict anti-stimulant drugs law, which includes codeine (present in many mild painkillers) and could apply to something as innocent as decongestant inhalers.* Customs officials may not accept ignorance as an excuse, so it’s best to check before packing any medicines. Some prescribed medicines could contain controlled drugs, so travellers should check with their GP ahead of time, as they may need a letter or to apply for a personal license to carry certain medications.

“It’s easy to slip some medication into your luggage at the last minute, but people forget that different countries have different restrictions on drugs” says Ben Smart, Corporate, Travel and Health Director at Mondial Assistance UK.. “It’s always best to check with the embassy of your destination country to avoid any difficulties with customs. With some careful planning ahead, people can get advice from their GP on travelling with medicines and how to manage doses across different time zones. Don’t forget, it is important when arranging your travel insurance, that you declare to your insurer any pre existing medical conditions you may have to ensure your policy covers you. Being prepared and travelling with the correct travel insurance is the best way to ensure you remember the trip for all the right reasons.”

• For prescribed medication, talk to your GP or nurse about your travel plans at least two months before your departure date
• Check with the embassy for your destination on possible restrictions on medicines and how much you can take in
• Keep a list of all your medicines and doses in case you lose them or run out
• Take information on the health condition for which you require the medication
• Find out if you need a letter from your GP for customs
• Take medication in your hand luggage, plus extra in your hold baggage
• If you’re crossing time zones, ask your GP how to adjust the timing of medicines accordingly
• Plan ahead and shop around for the best travel insurance for your requirements