Health and Medicine Tips

  • Will the host country have the medicines your child needs? In most instances you'll be way ahead bringing with you what your child needs. You get around suspect quality and vague labeling in some places, and spend more of your vacation vacationing and less visiting the pharmacies of the world.
  • Check also to be certain that all medicines you'll be bringing in with you are allowed to be brought in. Just because a drug is legal in the U.S. there is no reason to assume it is also legal abroad. Japan, for example, bans the importation of certain non-drowsy type cold and allergy medicines, in that an ingredient in them is considered a controlled substance. Some places may not like the hypodermic needles a diabetic needs to travel with.
  • If you or your children have a preexisting medical problem, you should carry a letter from your physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs. This can help bridge language gaps in the host country, especially if the needed medication is not sold under its brand name abroad.
  • Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on line, and contact the host country's Embassy (they'll characterize this request as “customs information” so show off and ask to speak to someone at the Embassy familiar with customs regulations).

A useful booklet is Health Information for International Travelers, written by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This contains a global rundown of disease and immunization advice and other health guidance, including risks in particular countries. For additional health information, the CDC maintains the international travelers hotline at 888-232-3228, an automated faxback service at 888-232-3299.

  • No matter what, it is always best to bring along medicine in its original container, especially prescription things. Be sure to pack all needed medicines in your carry on luggage, so you will have them available if your checked luggage is lost, or if there are plane delays that cut you off from your luggage for some time.
  • If your child is diabetic, has serious allergies or otherwise has special medical needs, planning is no longer a convenience but rather a necessity. Friends with a child with seafood allergies were terrified upon arriving to Japan to learn that fish stock forms the basis of all sorts of foods and ordering in a restaurant was going to be much more difficult than they hoped for.
  • If you want to have all the basic medications and first aid items a child might need, and a lot more, all in one handy package, please take a look at our review of the Pedia-Pak.

We've got more to say about food safety here.

User Feedback

Related Health Articles