Traveling Abroad and Your Medications

Published on Aug 28, 2014

If you’re like millions of Americans, you will probably travel at some point this year. It’s a perfect time of the year for travel. Planning ahead can help to make sure you are prepared for a safe and worry-free trip. If you’re taking a trip abroad, you will want to take extra time to ensure a healthy vacation.

Climate and Time Changes

It’s important to find out ahead of time if there are significant differences in temperature, weather, and time, between home and your travel destination. These differences can have an impact on your medication schedule, digestive system, and general well-being. Before you travel, ask your doctor if the differences in the climate on your vacation could affect your health or your medication. Additionally, when traveling to a different time zone, it’s good to plan your medication schedule ahead of time to account for the time change. If you have any questions about how to do this, make sure to speak with your doctor ahead of time.


Traveling to a faraway destination may expose you to new bacteria and other illnesses. Some travel abroad requires vaccinations to be administered weeks in advance due to diseases that are found and easily spread in the region. You can make an appointment with your doctor weeks before your trip to be sure you are up-to-date on all the necessary vaccinations.

Travel can also alter your digestive system. While acclimating to different foods, cultures and environments, you may experience stomach discomfort. Some travelers are susceptible to diarrhea. Before your trip, you may want to speak with your doctor about anti-diarrheal medications. You will want to bring these over-the-counter products with you, rather than buy medicine abroad.

The Basics

It’s important to bring the essentials with you while you travel. Be sure to pack plenty of First Aid supplies. Over-the-counter medications in the US may be prescription items overseas, so be sure to bring basic cough and allergy relief products. Bringing over-the-counter analgesics is also a good idea for mild fevers or basic pain relief. If you need to purchase medication abroad, consult with a competent health care professional. Some United States embassies may be able to recommend doctors.

Return Appointment

Healthy travel abroad requires planning and preparation. And just to be sure, some travelers schedule a physical exam after they return. The need for specific blood tests and stool analysis will depend on where you went, how long you stayed, and what you did while on vacation. Ask your doctor if an appointment on your return is advisable. 

Taking time to make these preparations in advance can help you to have a safe and healthy trip!

Krupa Paranjpe, PharmD is an Associate Director in the Pfizer Medical Information Department.

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