Skip Navigation

Newbie traveler asks about prescription meds overseas?

Travel Forums Round the World Travel Newbie traveler asks about prescription meds overseas?

1. Posted by pbohannon (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y

pbohannon has indicated that this thread is about Malaysia

Hi! I need advice please.

I am a 50yo SWM, overweight, with a mild heart condition and high blood pressure. I take the normal meds for both. As I am planning to be gone for at least a year I have ben hording away meds so I can have as much reserve as possible to carry along when I leave. Now a month or so out I have about 6 months worth stashed. Am I being ridiculous to think that I will have problems getting these meds overseas? I am likely not going anywhere too crazy, no central Africa. My hopeful itinerary is BHM > KUL, then wander around SE Asia through Indonesia up through the big four then further up through Burma into India and Nepal as leg 1. If I am still up for more at that point I expect to fly from Delhi > Cairo then up again through Turkey, eastern Europe, Germany, and into Amsterdam. Then likely home or if not central America (???). All pretty standard backpacker trails, right? I talked with a guy here who spent a year in Costa Rica and he said it was easier to get the meds there then here but his trip was 10 years ago and her was living there long term.

Please advise, and also any other advice you might deem helpful for me I would appreciate as well. My budget for the trip is $15 - 20k (I have $26k but will need landing fund when I return) and all I require is air con and access to bottled water (not a drinker or partier, 420 however...). Thanks for any advice or insights!

-p/.

2. Posted by lizp (Full Member 77 posts) 1y

I can only speak for Malaysia - it's easy to get most meds over the counter in pharmacies. Some will sell prescription only meds, others won't, so just keep trying till you find one that will! However prices are not necessarily cheap - it's cheaper to get on prescription in UK than it is to buy in a Msian pharmacy.

3. Posted by berner256 (Travel Guru 528 posts) 1y

It depends on your medications. If they are available in generic form, they probably will be available in the major cities, such as Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. But they might not be available in smaller communities. Even simple items, such as hydrogen peroxide, were not available in Madagascar, where a fellow traveler fruitlessly tried obtaining it as we traveled around the country for three weeks. I once forgot to bring a tube of steroidal ointment for insect bites; but could only find a weaker substitute in Bangkok. So it's best to bring the meds that you're familiar with.

I usually travel for about three months at a time, preferring to go home to keep in touch with family and friends; and to handle mundane things, such as paying taxes. I carry meds to last the entire time I'm away. I haven't encountered any problems passing through customs in any of the countries I've visited. And I've never had to show a prescription list signed by my doctor to anyone, even though I have it.

You should be aware that some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, have strict controls on what medications you can bring in. Some of the meds are widely used around the world. So check before going.

Some of the countries you are going, such as Nepal, require some stamina. So between now and the time you begin traveling, you should take some steps to build that. Consult your physician. I didn't travel in 2009 so I could improve my health. My doctor said I was on the cusp of becoming diabetic, like my father. So I shed 25 kilos that year through diet and exercise; and have kept it off. That has allowed me to dispense with some of the meds that I took; and improved my mobility and stamina. Many of the places you will want to visit require walking and climbing. For example, many temples and monasteries around the world are built at higher elevations. You may need to hike to see them. Even walking across the many bridges in Venice requires stamina.

Your budget seems reasonable for a backpacker traveling for a year. Currencies for many countries have dropped in value relative to the U.S. dollar. So travel now is less expensive than it has been in years, particularly for Americans. For example, the dollar has appreciated nearly 24 percent against Brazil's currency year-to-date. It's up 11 percent and 18 percent, respectively, against the Australian and New Zealand dollars; and up 17 percent against the Turkish lira. I was in the Ukraine last month, where the dollar was up more than 30 percent. But you'll still need to watch your spending with the budget you have.

Bottled water is cheap. It won't be a major factor. Food also is inexpensive. Besides transportation, lodging will consume the largest chunk of your budget. Do not expect air conditioning everywhere you go. You may have to do with a fan, or nothing at all. Hope this helps.

4. Posted by berner256 (Travel Guru 528 posts) 1y

I see elsewhere in the Forum that you have never traveled outside the U.S. before; and that you plan to leave for a year's trip about a month from now. Hope you have done at least some planning. Otherwise, you may be in for a shock. Travel in some of the countries you plan to visit is not like travel in the U.S. Perhaps before traveling on your own, you should consider joining an "adventure" tour, perhaps to India or Central America. That way you can get a feel for what it's like to travel overseas. Some of these tours are affordable. They are a good introduction.

As a person who has traveled independently for years, I sometimes join tours when it suits my purpose. I sometimes regret not joining a tour to Ethiopia's Danakil Depression. I traveled there independently with an excellent driver that I used elsewhere in Ethiopia. Not only did I have to hire four Ethiopian Army soldiers to accompany me into the Depression (required by the government), but I also had to pay bribes to corrupt officials and police in the Afar region. They didn't threaten me. But they did threaten to jail my driver (both going in to the Depression; and coming out).

You mentioned that you won't be going "anywhere too crazy." But travel in Egypt and other countries can be somewhat harrowing for novice travelers on their own. I don't want to discourage you. I quit my job when I was 25 to travel around the world. It was a life-changing experience. It helped that I did some advance planning, like devising a plan to get cash overseas in the days when ATMs weren't around.

5. Posted by jeanie99 (Full Member 155 posts) 1y

Being a serious long trip traveler who takes medication as does my husband this is my two penneth in answer to this question.

Buy before traveling all the medication you require for the trip you are going on.
Take this together with a letter from you health car professional which states why you need this medication. You could be asked to produce this when you enter a country if the medication is found in your luggage.

Do not assume you can buy the same drug in another country even if it is a western country.

To be on the safe side just in case your baggage was stolen, take a prescription with you and copies of this, this also applies to specs.

Always take advice from a health care professional for any additional health vaccination, inoculations malaria tablets you may need to take with you also.
Get all your jabs done before you leave on any trip and keep the documentation with you if needed.

Malaria tablets are expensive but when we needed more and I tried to buy in Australia the price was astronomical.

NEVER EVER TAKE RISKS WITH YOUR HEALTH AND DO NOT TAKE MEDICAL ADVICE FROM ANYONE ON THIS WEBSITE GO TO A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL.

DO NOT CARRY DRUGS OTHER THAN YOUR MEDICATION INTO ANY COUNTRY YOU COULD END UP IN JAIL.