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Traveling with medication

Tips for a safer trip while traveling with medication

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Travelling with medication – baggage delays and other unexpected things

Travelers could be unknowingly risking their life by putting their medication in their checked luggage, with a rise in delayed luggage due to the return of international travel in 2022 catching out many of our Nomads.

World Nomads has seen a rise in travelers contacting our Emergency Services team for help when their checked bag with their life-saving critical medications doesn’t make it to their destination. And the situation has been compounded by COVID, with doctors reluctant or unable to visit travelers in their hotel room if they have COVID, making getting a new prescription very difficult.

How to travel with medication

  • Pack it with you: You should always take your medication in your carry bag with you onto the plane. Do not check it underneath.
  • Bring more than you need: There are so many things that can delay your return home, and put you at risk of running out of your medication if you’re not prepared. Maybe your flight was cancelled, or worse you or a traveling companion has COVID and you’re in isolation. because you’re plane didn’t make it, or you go into COVID quarantine for a week or more, you may need more medication than you’d anticipated. We recommend having at least an extra two weeks worth of any critical medication that is essential to your health.
  • Plan ahead: It pays to plan ahead and prepare in case you run out of your medication while overseas. You should consider before you go:
  • Travel insurance: Most travel insurance providers including World Nomads offer 24/7 Emergency Assistance. Depending on the urgency of the situation, these teams may be able to help you find local or telehealth facilities, or get medication prescribed and couriered to you.
  • Your local doctor: If you don’t have travel insurance, speak to your doctor before you go about the options they may have to help you if its needed.
  • Local medical facilities: You can also attend local medical facilities and see if they are able to help. If you have travel insurance, you may be able to claim back the costs of emergency medical treatment.

Is that legal or illegal? Checks on your medication you should do before you go

While your medication might be perfectly legal at home, the rules are different overseas and you don’t want to find yourself with fines to pay, confiscated medication, particularly if it’s critical to our health, or worse, arrested and jailed.

All this has happened to unwary travelers over the years, so it pays to check your medication’s legal status at the destination you’re travelling to. Some examples of medication that has caught travelers out has ranged from asthma medication, to medicinal marijuana, and contraception.

  • Check your medication’s status: Start by contacting the consulate or embassy of the country/ies you are heading to or through for a list of what is or isn’t legal... even if you’re transiting you must comply with local laws and that means not carrying drugs through their country they consider illegal.
  • Find an alternative: If you find your medication is illegal in the countries you’re traveling to, talk to your local doctor about alternatives they can prescribe.

Whatever you do – it is never a good idea to ‘run the gauntlet’ if you know your medication is considered illegal in the country you are heading to. If that is the case and you have no alternatives then you should seriously reconsider your need to travel there.

Traveller Tale

“One of our Nomads was travelling in Singapore and needed their medication to be topped up – they reached out to their doctor who properly prescribed it in their home country and couriered it to them. Unfortunately it was not legal in Singapore and our poor Nomad spent two days in jail before they were able to clear things up with the authorities, with our help.”

Local culture and attitudes to certain illnesses

While all cultures are different, some also hold different attitudes and beliefs around illness such as seizures, mental health episodes and reproductive health. It’s important to respect these beliefs but also plan for what that may mean for you.

You may not be able to get your medication prescribed or filled, and you may not be able to seek the medical help you need if your condition isn’t properly recognised. Make sure you plan ahead with adequate medication and a plan of how to get help if needed.

The policy isn’t designed to cover everything, so take the time to read the terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions in the Policy Wording for full details so that there are no surprises if you need to use it. If you’re not sure if something is covered, get in touch.

What Does my Travel Insurance Cover?

Traveller Tale

“One of our US Nomads had prescribed medication sent via post to Singapore.  While it was perfectly legal in the US, what our Nomad didn’t know was that it was considered a banned drug in Singapore.  Our World Nomad was imprisoned while they worked with World Nomads and the authorities to explain the situation.  While they were released in the end, it’s not the holiday they were expecting.”

Did you know travel insurance covers...

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*This is a general summary only. Restrictions, exclusions and limitations will apply. Coverage may not be available for all countries, states or provinces. Benefit limits may vary depending on the plan chosen. Get a quote for full details.

A true claim story

  • Never travel without insurance. This was the first time I ever purchased travel insurance and I am so glad I did. A few days into my trip to Spain I twisted my foot heading down to the metro. Thanks to World Nomads I was able to get medical attention in Spain and since, as luck would have it, I had a fracture that required surgery, they got me a flight home the next day. Filing a claim was surprisingly easy and when the claim was finally processed, I was reimbursed for all of my expenses including things like the extra week in the hotel I didn't get to take advantage of.
    L. De Jesus,
    U.S. resident in Spain
  • I recently had a serious injury traveling on my own & the team was amazing. Being confused with a brain injury they took care of everything. Claiming was no problem, they were on the phone constantly to see if all was OK. I can't recommend them enough. Absolutely fantastic & l will always travel with World Nomads Insurance. Thanks guys for getting me home safely
    Australian in Thailand
  • Just wanted to say thank you to this wonderful insurance company. When my husband notified the company that I had suffered a life threatening pulmonary embolism, World Nomads took care of everything. They contacted the hospital immediately and checked on my situation, A wonderful nurse called me everyday, speaking to doctors and making sure I understood what had happened and the course of my treatment. I would recommend World Nomads to every traveler. We are still travelling and until we return home will continue to insure with them.
    Australian in Thailand
  • I was bitten by a monkey at the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur. I went to a nearby clinic and they gave me a rabies shot, antibiotics to take for 4 days, pain medicine, and anti-inflammatory medicine.
    Canadian in Malaysia

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Aurelie's portrait photo
Aurelie Menard,
Emergency Assistance, World Nomads