What to Bring
While living and traveling abroad, it is a wise precaution to keep personal medical records with you in case of an accident or illness. Your records should include:
- all medications you are taking (generic names and dosages)
- any chronic ailments, allergies or hypersensitivities
- immunization history
- blood type
- eyeglass prescription
- personal physician's contact information
- health insurance
- your religion, if pertinent
Be sure to make a photocopy of your medical records. Carry these documents with you at all times, in a secure and accessible place.
Prescription Medicine: If you take prescription medicine, you should research whether it is available and legal in your host country. Bring a copy of the prescription for the generic name of the drug. In developed countries, you will need to take only an initial supply of the medication, as you will likely be able to refill your prescription at a host country pharmacy. In most developing countries, you should take a supply that will last your entire stay. For long programs, check the country's customs regulations on the number of months worth of medicine that you may bring in. Make sure all medications are in your carry-on bag, in their original containers, and with your name printed on them.
Over-the-Counter Remedies: If you regularly use any over-the-counter remedies, you may want to take an initial supply. For customs purposes, take all medicines in their original containers.
Your Personal Health Kit: Depending on your destination(s) and level of staff supervision you expect on your program, you may want to pack a small first aid kit, with some or all of the following: insect repellant, rubbing alcohol, thermometer, bandages, anti-diarrheal and anti-indigestion medicine, pain relievers, cough and cold remedies, antibacterial ointment, sunscreen, aloe, and re-hydration salts/pills. Some personal items, such as sensitive skin toiletries, feminine hygiene products, and contact lens solution, may be very expensive or unavailable in your preferred brand.
Syringes: Syringes can be construed as drug paraphernalia. Read the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policies and bring a prescription and doctor's note.
Medic Alert Emblem: If you have a medical issue such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, food or drug allergies, be sure to wear a MedicAlert emblem.