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Medical Advice

Consult Your Doctor Well in Advance - Preferably at least two months before your departure on a backpackers trip, you should visit your doctor for advice and to arrange immunisations. Some jabs cannot be administered at the same time and some take time to become effective. Immunisation against Hepatitis B, for example, can take six months to give full protection. However, see your doctor even if you are going at short notice — some protection may be better than none.

If you need anti-malaria medication, your doctor will advise on which is most appropriate. You should start taking the medication before departure.

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions that require prescribed medicines while abroad, check on their availability at your destination since your doctor can normally only prescribe a limited quantity under the NHS.

When taking medicines out of the UK - If you want to take any sort of medicine with you — either prescribed or bought from a pharmacist you must find out if there are any restrictions on taking it in and out of the UK or the country you are visiting.

Always carry medicines in a correctly labelled container, as issued by the pharmacist. Otherwise take a letter from your doctor or a personal health record card giving details of the drugs prescribed this may help you to get through Customs. Some medicines available over the counter in the UK may be controlled in other countries, and vice versa. Pack some of your medication in your hand luggage and some in your backpack or suitcase, just in case one or other gets lost or stolen.

Your pre-existing medication and medical conditions - Always make sure that you write down exactly what medication you are taking, ideally the actual name (it’s chemical name) and also the brand name. That way if you do need further supplies abroad it should be easier for the pharmacist to prescribe you with the correct drug quickly. Ideally a letter from your GP regarding your illness/condition and the medication that you are using would be useful in case this needs to be shown while going through customs and also in case of emergency. Your Backpackers Travel Insurance policy will only cover you for pre existing medical conditions if you have paid any additional premium at the time of booking your policy

Your existing allergies - Obviously the standard hay fever type allergies can be catered for, by taking the relevant medication. If you are allergic to Aspirin or Penicillin you should consider wearing a necklace or bracelet explaining this. There are specialist companies that produce these and they can normally be obtained from your local chemist. If you are an existing asthma sufferer you should take spare inhalers and those that suffer from nut allergies should take epipens. Antihistamine tablets can come in vary useful.

Make sure you visit the dentist before you go - If you are planning to travel for some time it is definitely worth visiting your dentist. Once abroad you may find that seeing a dentist is not only very expensive but may prove very difficult, in some countries the level of hygiene undertaken by dentists is not as we are used to in the UK. If you do require emergency dental treatment abroad check which clinic is recommended by contacting your Insurance 24hour assistance helpline.

Contraception: Make sure that you have enough contraception pills to last your entire trip abroad.

A First Aid Kit: A packet of adhesive dressings, some insect repellent, diarrhoea tablets, antiseptic cream and water-sterilisation tablets will take up little space and could be useful.

Enhance your kit with an Emergency Medical Travel Kit - Equipment, such as syringes, needles and suture materials are useful in medical emergencies in countries where safety of such items cannot be assured. They can be purchased through a pharmacist or private medical centre.

A typical kit should contain

These items should not be carried on to the airplane as part of hand luggage.