When traveling with IBD medication, it is crucial to follow a few important steps to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey. Here are some essential guidelines to consider:
- Obtain a letter from your physician: Request typed and signed statements from your physician(s), describing your medical history and the medications you are taking. This will be helpful if customs officials question you or if there is an emergency. The physician statement should include your name, travel itinerary, names of prescribed medications (including controlled drugs), dosages, and total amounts of each medication that you will be carrying with you.
- Packing your medication: Whenever possible, try to pack enough medication to cover the entire duration of your trip, including some extra in case of unexpected delays. If your medication requires refrigeration, you can use a small cool bag, which can be easily purchased online. For longer trips, make sure the medical cool wallet can maintain a temperature between 35-46°F/ 2-8°C to keep your medication safe and effective.
- Accessing medication abroad: If you’re planning an extended trip, you might need to obtain new supplies of your medication while traveling. Depending on your destination, you may be able to acquire it from local doctors or through a private prescription. Make and carry copies of all prescriptions, including foreign brand names or generic names.
- Prepare an emergency kit: It’s always a good idea to pack an emergency kit that includes over-the-counter medicines such as anti-diarrheals (e.g., Imodium, Lomotil), anti-spasmodics (e.g., Buscopan, Colofac), rehydration sachets (e.g., Dioralyte, Electrolate, Rehidrat), and painkillers (e.g., paracetamol). These essentials can come in handy during your travels and provide relief if needed.
- Taking medication abroad: When traveling internationally, it is important to let your pharmacist know if you are taking medication out of the country. Always carry your medication with you on the plane in case the airline misplaces your luggage. Check with your airline before traveling to confirm their policies on carrying medications in your hand luggage, especially if you need to transport syringes. If you are crossing different time zones, consult your physician for guidance on adjusting your medication schedule accordingly.
- Retain original packaging: Medications should always be carried in their original packaging, accompanied by a prescription and physician letter. Keep your medication in its original packaging to present at customs if required. Bring pillboxes for when you arrive, so that you can carry smaller amounts with you during the day.
- Traveling with intravenous medication: Traveling while receiving intravenous infliximab or vedolizumab requires extra planning. Keep in mind that many countries may require special medical insurance for you to receive biologic medication in their healthcare system. In certain cases, you may be allowed to carry the vials of medication with you to be infused at another facility overseas, but prior arrangements must be made with the facility at your travel destination.
- Legal considerations: It is essential to be aware of the legal considerations when traveling with medication. Some countries have restrictions or prohibitions on certain prescription and over-the-counter medications, including pain relief, sleep aids, allergies, and cold and flu remedies. Familiarize yourself with the active ingredients in all your medications. Before traveling, check with the embassy of the country you are visiting to confirm if any restrictions apply to the medications you carry. If a country allows a particular medication but imposes quantity limits, consider reducing the dosage or switching to an alternative medication. Controlled drugs, such as Codeine, morphine, and diazepam, may require special permission if you plan to travel for three months or longer or carry more than a three-month supply. Check with your physician on necessary requirements before travel.
By following these guidelines and adequately preparing for your travels, you can ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience while managing your IBD medication effectively.
- Living with Crohn’s disease. (2018). crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/pdfs/living-with-crohns-disease.pdf
- Travel and IBD. (2017). travax.nhs.uk/media/1234857/travel-and-ibd-leaflet-from-crohn-s-colitis-uk.pdf