What to pack: Medicines

Common sense medicines

Assorted pillsThe internet and your guide books are full of horror stories regarding tropical diseases. These can’t be ignored, there are very real dangers out there that need to be taken seriously.

Head to your local travel surgery, your doctor will be able to point you in their direction and take a list of the countries you plan to visit.  They will most likely visit this brilliant NHS fit for travel website with an interactive map that will tell you what vaccinations you need. Don’t scrimp, if you contract something nasty the 50 pounds saved on vaccinations will soon be a distant triumph.

We visited our local branch of footwear branded chemist and spent a fortune buying everything from a range of sunblock to insect repellant, pain killers, diarrhea remedy, anti inflammatory tablets and much much more.

Here’s the secret. You can buy all of the generic medicine and toiletries you will need from pharmacies pretty much anywhere in the world and it’s likely to be cheaper. Don’t scrimp on the important stuff. If you need prescription medicine then get that sorted, and enough of it before you leave. If you know you will need a hydrocortisone cream that must have been stored below 25 degrees, don’t presume it won’t have been stuffed in a box under the counter in a roadside pharmacy in 35 degree heat in Laos. Malaria tablets are notoriously counterfeited and sold abroad so get these on prescription at home too.

Follow these simple rules if you have to buy medicine abroad:

Buy medicines only from licensed pharmacies (if they exist).

Check the packaging. If it is missing or looks suspicious, it may be counterfeit.

Check the use by date

Check with the pharmacist as to what the active ingredients are. If you can contact your doctor at home, seek their advice and check the products are the same.

We have slowly run down our medicines to a manageable level and now stock up when we are in cities or know that we are going somewhere remote or where we are unlikely to have access to a pharmacy.