Vaccines, medications, first-aid kit… Before locking your suitcase, be sure you’re ready, health-wise, in order to avoid small or big problems at your destination! Take these nine precautions regarding your health while travelling.

1. Take the necessary preventive vaccines for your destination

Health and medications while travelling

Many illnesses can be avoided if you’re vaccinated. As soon as you have chosen your destination, visit a travel health clinic to find out what the mandatory and recommended vaccines are. There, a specialist will determine your needs in accordance with your destination and state of health. Many pharmacies also offer this service.

You should begin this process 6 to 8 weeks before departure, to ensure you are totally protected. In the event you need to leave suddenly, see a specialist anyway. Some vaccines or preventive medications can be administered just prior to your departure.

Are you 60 or older? To be sure you stay healthy while travelling, you should take additional precautions regarding vaccinations.

2. Be informed about safety and security at your destination country

Is your destination a safe and secure place? Should certain behaviours be avoided in the region you’re visiting? If you have any doubts, read the travel advice and advisories published by the Government of Canada pertaining to the country you will be visiting.

3. List all your medications

Bring a list of your medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, as well as any natural health products you use. Your pharmacist can provide you with such a list. Emergency services will have all the information necessary in the event of an incident.

4. Bring enough medication

Take a week’s extra supply. This way, you won’t need to buy drugs while you’re away if, for example, your return is delayed. In Western countries, prescription drugs resemble each other, but aren’t exactly similar. In Asia, people have died from taking counterfeit medication. Don’t take any risks and have yours with you.

Keep your prescription medications in their original containers and make sure you have the original prescription labels. You might need them to prove to customs officers that you need the drugs.

And keep your medications in your carry-on baggage. This way, if your checked luggage is lost or delayed, you will not be without your prescriptions drugs.

5. Ask for a medical certificate if your treatments require that you use a syringe

You will need to show customs officers a medical certificate proving that this material is reserved for your personal medical use. If the medication contains narcotics, make sure you have the appropriate medical certificate.

Make sure you have enough syringes, because they will be hard to obtain while you are travelling.

For security reasons, is very likely that the airline will forbid you to bring your syringes in your carry-on luggage. Check beforehand.

6. Prepare a complete first-aid kit

A properly equipped first-aid kit should contain:

  • Bandages
  • Compresses
  • Adhesive tape
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic
  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antihistamines
  • Oral rehydration solution
  • A sling

Remember that sharp objects like scissors and nail clippers are forbidden in aircraft cabins.

7. Take out the right travel insurance for your situation

There is a wide range of travel insurance products available, with flexible coverage options to suit every kind of trip and traveller. A travel counsellor or insurance advisor can provide help and guidance in determining your specific needs.

8. Check that your pre-existing health conditions are covered

It’s often possible to obtain travel insurance coverage even if you are living with a chronic illness. Many insurers ask you to have your physician complete a medical questionnaire for submission to the insurer; in some cases, if the condition is controlled, it can be covered. This process isn’t compulsory, but it’s the best way of checking whether your condition is covered.

Get answers to your questions about travel insurance and health conditions by reading our Tips instalment on this topic.

9. Be sure you have your travel assistance phone number with you

Always carry the wallet card from your travel insurance provider. And give a copy of it to your travel companions as well as to a family member or friend back home in Quebec. You, your family and friends should always be able to quickly find the necessary telephone numbers to call in case of a problem.

Get in touch with the travel assistance services team as soon as a problem arises. Its agents will be able to recommend a hospital, explain what to do and even contact the hospital before you arrive there.