Every day, milesopedia provides you with new tips to go further, take advantage of your points and miles … Today, I will try to give you some tips for your travel health and especially how to put together your travel medicine kit.
Let me introduce myself, I am Audrey, a pharmacist in everyday life, a great traveller alongside my husband Jean-Maximilien.
You’ve booked the plane tickets, the hotels, your rental car, fine! But have you thought about checking sanitary conditions, your vaccinations and preparing a travel medicine kit, for example to “travel without worries“?
There are many things to think about before you travel… and your health should be an important part of your preparation! It would be a shame to ruin your vacation because of medical inconveniences.
Many times, my travel medicine kit has saved my trip! Whether it’s for me, my spouse or my children. An allergy, an infected boo-boo, a sore throat… I don’t take any chances.
Doctors, nurses and pharmacists can help you check what you need and give you all the preventive measures and recommendations adapted according to:
- your holiday destination
- your medical conditions
Consult your health care professional
Once you’ve made your reservations, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your health care professional or a travel health clinic at least six months in advance, especially if vaccinations are required, so that you don’t forget anything and can leave with peace of mind.
Your pharmacist, for example, can help you put together a travel medicine kit adapted to your needs.
Be ready. It’s not uncommon to see patients arriving at my pharmacy the same week they leave on a trip, unprepared, with no stock of medication or travel pharmacy kit ready! Think about the fact that if you are going away for several months, your pharmacist will probably not have the stock and will have to order the products. He won’t get them on the same day.
N.B.: Your pharmacist will also appreciate being informed in advance.
In addition, since the coming into force of Bill 41 in June 2015, your pharmacists have earned more responsibilities and can help you more.
If you are planning a trip, check with them to see if you can get a prescription for the following:
- traveller’s diarrhea
- malaria prophylaxis
- acute mountain sickness
An example of a Travel Pharmacy Kit
In your suitcases, make room for a travel medicine kit with a minimum of treatments. Who knows what you’ll find abroad? Each country has its own list of medicines, a distinct market.
For example, do not expect to find cetirizine (an antiallergic drug) in 20mg in France; it does not exist; same goes for Benadryl for children, specific to our country.
I advise you to adapt this list according to your needs:
- unit and fabric masks
- aqueous-alcoholic solution or gel
- hand sanitizing wipes
- chronic personal medications
- medicines for malaria, altitude sickness or traveller’s diarrhea if necessary (Law 41)
- acetaminophen for children and adults
- rehydration solution
- antiallergic for children and adults
- family-friendly sunscreen
- icaridine-based mosquito repellent, perfect for families
- antibiotics (cream, tablets)
- cortisone cream
- artificial tears for the eyes
- contact lens solutions
- arnica-based cream for children’s boo-boos.
Your plane trip
When flying, a few recommendations are in order, as oxygen levels are slightly lower and the ambient air is drier.
The air is drier, so it is best to hydrate regularly during the flight. Water is to be preferred (therefore little or no alcohol or coffee).
It is also advisable to avoid wearing contact lenses unless artificial tears are used.
If you are nauseous on an airplane or have airsickness, there are treatments available in pharmacies. Ask your pharmacist for more information. For example, limit head movements.
Think of your ears and your children’s ears.
The pressurization of the air can amplify hearing problems, for example, especially during takeoff and descent.
- Chew gum, drink water, or yawn.. You can also try to push air through your nose while squeezing your nostrils.
- Offer a bottle or a pacifier to young babies, for example, who are more fragile.
- If you have a cold, a decongestant 30 minutes before departure on a long-distance flight and 45 minutes before landing can help.
Do not hesitate to tell the airline company of any particular diet (allergies, salt-free, lactose-free, gluten-free…). You can normally do this online at the time of ticket purchase and up to 24-48 hours before departure.
In case of allergy or other important condition, wear an identification bracelet.
Limit overly salty foods, soft drinks, alcohol.
I’ll grant you, it’s hard to give up a glass of champagne or a good glass of wine, especially in business class!
But these types of foods and drinks can amplify the bloating, swollen ankles and muscle cramps problems related to air pressure and the risk of venous thrombosis.
Don’t hesitate to get up and walk!
Bend and rotate your ankles regularly, stretch and walk along the aisle several times during the flight.
Discuss with your healthcare professional whether wearing compression stockings would be recommended for you to prevent blood clots from forming.
Pre-existing medical conditions
If you have a medical condition requiring special attention or take medication regularly:
- Check with your doctor that you can travel by plane.
- Ask your pharmacist for a copy of your medical records.
- Have your medication refilled with some extra, just in case.
- Keep your medications in their original containers in your carry-on baggage to avoid being left without medication in case of any flight delays or problems.
- if you have an epipen, keep it in your hand luggage with a medical note and notify security personnel.
- Check if your medications are photosensitizing.
- If you are diabetic, bring insulin, strips, needles, glucometer and alcohol swabs in sufficient quantity and especially bring a letter from your doctor certifying your condition; safety checks will go smoothly! Beware of temperature variations that can alter your insulin. Bring a container for your needles. Here’s a website that can give you tips on traveling with diabetes: http://www.worlddiabetestour.org.
- If you have a pacemaker, need oxygen or any other device, tell the security personnel. Security personnel are accustomed to seeing medical equipment; however, this does not prevent you from always having to show a doctor’s note or a copy of a prescription. For more details regarding medical devices, refer to the Government of Canada website and check your air carrier’s regulations.
- If you are pregnant, check with your doctor that your health allows you to travel and ask the airlines about their terms, the safest period being between the 18th and 24th week of pregnancy. You will find some recommendations on this website: voyager-enceinte
- Check your travel medical insurance.
- Ask your insurer for the contact information of a health center near your destination.
Useful websites to plan your trip
To find out what vaccinations to get, learn about recommendations related to your destination, know the situation in the country you’re visiting and the necessary visas, there are many resources available.
Here is a selection of recognized and regularly updated reference websites.
The Government of Canada’s official travel site for travellers
With COVID-19 and the various political events that have taken place in the four corners of the globe, it is all the more important to keep up to date with the official websites. Make sure you find out everything you need to know before you leave.
Health, safety and legal information about countries, essential documents, transportation, emergencies abroad, etc.
I strongly advise you to fill out the Registration of Canadians abroad form to receive notification from the Government of Canada in the event of an emergency abroad.
In addition, the “Bon Voyage” application is now available on iOS and Android.
Public Health Agency of Canada
News, public health advisories and recommendations under the “Travel Health” tab and much more information.
Institut national de santé publique du Québec
Tools, health risks, immunization, country recommendations.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
All recommendations by country, list of diseases, news. Mobile applications available, including CDC TravWell which is practical and very well done.
The Familiprix Psst! travel guide for travelers
Traveller’s guide Psst! Leave safely and return healthy is available free of charge in your Familiprix pharmacies.
It’s all there! It talks about vaccinations, travelling with children and the most common diseases associated with travel.
Table of contents of this PSST!
- Planning and preparation for a trip
- Travelling with medication
- Travelling while pregnant
- Travelling comfortably
- Prevention and personal protection
- Traveller’s diseases
- Altitude sickness
- Travelling with children
- Travel checklist (list of items to take)
- Useful information
Finally, find out about your travel insurance: what do your credit cards cover? Which car insurance to choose? How does your insurance work if something goes wrong?
If you’re travelling with children and this is your first trip, I recommend that you read the Parents’ Guide for Travellers, a wealth of practical information!
I hope you have found these tips on preparing for your trip useful. Leave prepared and therefore more serene with your travel medicine kit and a good insurance!
Do not hesitate to consult and make an appointment with your health care professional for any question or additional information.