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Keep the Doctor Away: Managing Your Health on Vacation

Don’t add to the already-long list of things that could potentially go wrong on your next vacation by leaving matters of health to chance. There are several easy steps that you can take to manage your health while you are away from home. You can prevent or mitigate many common health issues simply by packing all of your prescription medicines and their associated documentation, for example. Remember to plan ahead and keep the following tips in mind before setting off on your next trip.
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1. Bring Your Prescriptions

No matter where you are headed, you can’t assume that you will be able to find your preferred brand of prescription medication there. Even if generic alternatives suit you just fine, you may not be able find a pharmacy that accepts your insurance plan in remote or out-of-country locations. Your first line of defense against these nightmare scenarios is remembering to pack an adequate supply of all of your prescription medications in a safe place, preferably a dedicated pocket of a carry-on bag. If space permits, place each bottle in its own plastic bag and include explicit dosing instructions. Better yet, use a pill scheduler to organize your doses before a long flight or car ride.

2. Document, Document, Document

Even the best-laid plans can fail. Time differences, poor phone or Internet connections, or physical remoteness might conspire to render your home doctor unreachable when you need him most. Prevent these unforeseen complications by bringing copies of all of your prescription documents, even if you know for a fact that you packed the actual bottles. Keep them in a secure pocket separate from your pills, or preferably in another bag, so that you will have a backup if you lose your prescriptions or if your bag is stolen.

3. Keep an Eye Out

Don’t forget about your prescription eyewear. Store a spare set of glasses separately from your main pair and keep a copy of your prescription on hand as well. If your condition permits, use disposable contact lenses wherever possible and especially during bouts of physical activity. Finding an optometrist in a pinch can be tricky in many foreign countries.

4. Find a Pharmacy

If you are traveling in North America and use a major pharmacy chain to fill your prescriptions, you will probably be within driving distance of the proper facility in an emergency. Of course, things might get tricky if you are stuck in the mountains or don’t have access to a car. For trips abroad, keep a few things in mind:

  • In most European countries, pharmacies advertise their presence with a street-side green cross.
  • Few foreign supermarkets have in-store pharmacies; don’t bother looking for them.
  • Most pharmacies are open all night at least one day per week. Look online or ask the nearest pharmacist for a list of pharmacies running 24-hour shifts on any given day.
  • If finding a pharmacy is proving difficult, go to the emergency room. It doesn’t cost nearly as much as it does in the United States, and you will be able to obtain emergency supplies of lost medications there.

Your next vacation should be memorable for all the right reasons. Don’t court disaster by forgetting your prescriptions, copies of related documents, or contact information for local medical service providers.

Joyce Newport is a guest blogger for apex rx site where you can find tips on staying healthy and saving money.

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