Travelling safely with diabetes medications

01 Sep 2016

If you are travelling overseas and take medicines, particularly insulin, you will need to organise them well in advance and take extra care while you’re away. The following recommendations and resources can avoid unexpected delays and ensure a stress free trip.

  • Always carry several copies of a letter from your doctor that includes:
    - The name (generic) and dose of the medicine and what it is for
    - A statement that the medicine if for your personal use or for someone in your care (PBS restrictions for overseas travel)
  • Keep all medicine in the hand luggage in case your checked in luggage gets lost; also insulin may freeze if stored in the checked in luggage due to luggage compartment conditions
  • If travelling with a companion ask them to carry some of the medicine in their hand luggage in case your hand luggage is lost or stolen
  • Keep all medicine in its original packaging and carry extra in case of delays
  • Store all medicines at room temperature (20-25 degrees) including insulin. If you travel for longer than a month you will need to store the unopened insulin in the fridge and/or a cooler bag (eg Frio Bag – available from Diabetes NSW – contact 1300 136 588 or pharmacy) when on the road
  • In the hopefully unlikely event that you run out of medicines overseas, see a doctor in the country you are visiting or contact your Australian doctor and pharmacist and arrange a non-PBS prescription for the medicine which can be sent to you. Check with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on www.border.gov.au.
  • See a diabetes educator 2-3 months prior to your trip to arrange for a sick-day management plan, learn how to adjust insulin doses while travelling (if you are on insulin therapy) and discuss other considerations.

For more information:
Diabetes NSW website for a travel checklist and other resources:

http://diabetesnsw.com.au/useful-tools/information-sheets

http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/medicare/travelling-overseas-with-pbs-medicine

www.tga.gov.au/travelling-medicines-and-medical-devices

http://www.nps.org.au/

Medicare Australia –traveling with PBS medicine enquiry line: 1800 500 147