When you’re planning a holiday vacation, don’t forget to have a strategy for managing your medications while on the go.
The holiday season is a prime time to travel as well as a prime time to pick up illnesses. But with a little planning, there’s plenty you can do to stay healthy. Keep these tips in mind when setting out on your next adventure.
Don’t forget your prescription medications. I recommend that people carry their prescriptions in the original bottles. Particularly if you’re going to another country, there are some officials who may give you a hard time about carrying unmarked medications. Original packaging also prevents mix-ups about whats what.
Always pack prescriptions in your carry-on. In the event luggage is lost or delayed, you don’t want to be scrambling.
Keep track of your health information. Electronic medical records have changed the way we communicate between medical providers here in the U.S. When you travel abroad, its safest to have a printout with your medications, doses and the medical conditions for which they’re needed. Ask your doctor for an email address, as this can be a quick way to get in touch while you’re away.
Do your research before you leave. For winter travel, a flu shot is a good idea in general, since you’re in close contact with people on planes and in airports; hand sanitizers can also be useful. The flu can really disrupt a trip, and that’s the last thing you want.
If you’re traveling to a developing country, visit cdc.gov/travel to see what vaccinations and medicines are required or recommended for the destination you’re visiting. You also may want to look into the health care options near your destination (or the insurance options should you need to be evacuated to a location with more advanced medical care) if you plan on going on an adventure travel trip or to somewhere remote. The International Society of Travel Medicines website, istm.org, can give you a sense of the accredited clinics in a region.
Bring along handy health aids. I tell my patients to carry an over-the-counter medicine that treats diarrhea. It’s also good to travel with an antihistamine. In case you have an allergic reaction. Packing items like this can eliminate the need to worry about finding a local pharmacy. In addition, cruise ship passengers may want to take a patch for sea sickness prevention.
Use your best judgment.Some common-sense things go a long way, like wearing sunscreen, staying hydrated, using a seat belt, letting other people do the driving on unfamiliar roads, staying off mopeds and practicing moderation. Too much sun, too much food and too much alcohol can add up to too many health problems.
For more information on the Travel Medicine Program, visit mountsinaifpa.org.
Dr. Daniel Caplivski, M.D., is Director of the Travel Medicine Program at The Mount Sinai Medical Center and Associate Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He has previously been published in The Daily News discussing travel medicine and is the author of Consultations in Infectious Diseases. Dr. Caplivski received his medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine.