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Long-term conditions

Long-term conditions
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Tips for travellers with a medical condition

If you have a long-term condition such as heart failure, asthma or epilepsy, you may feel that holidays or business trips abroad are not for you. But if your condition is well controlled with medication and lifestyle choices, you should be able to enjoy the rewards and experiences of overseas travel as much as anyone else!

Before you depart

We always tell travellers to make an appointment with one of our travel health advisers – but if you are living with a long-term condition (including HIV, diabetes or hypertension) see your normal healthcare provider first. They will be able to give you specific advice tailored to your needs, and can help you anticipate the effects of altitude, heat and humidity. They may also give you some information for your travel health adviser. They may wish to specify particular vaccine brands, such as Adacel Polio for tetanus, polio and diphtheria or YF-vax for yellow fever.

Your normal healthcare provider may also want to arrange an extra supply of your medication for you to carry. Letters and notes about your condition are also useful, and copies of your prescriptions, too.

Get your shots

Make an appointment with a travel health adviser eight to six weeks before you go. Your appointment is confidential so tell them about your underlying condition as this will inform their decisions. Travel shots are particularly important if you have an underlying health condition.

Your travel health adviser will also tell you about avoiding food- and water-borne illnesses. They can advise on sun safety and also avoiding insect bites. Your adviser can help you find a regime of anti-malarials that works for you, too. Some travellers tolerate doxycycline better than Lariam, for example.


Shop around for a good travel insurance policy that will support you with a medical condition: they are out there. Look for policies that come with a helpline so that you can get advice for minor problems quickly.

Can I travel with my medication?

Some countries have different rules about medications and drugs. For example, in The Gambia certain medications, such as codeine and diazepam, are illegal. Check the Foreign Office’s advice for the country you are visiting. Keep all your medication in its original packaging and take a copy of your prescription and a doctor’s letter, too.

Will I be able to obtain my medication abroad?

Depending on where you are, it may be difficult to obtain the exact brand that you use at home. This is why it is best to carry your own supply. In some places, for example, on islands, you may have to wait for a delivery of your medication to come in by boat.

What if my condition flares up?

You may not have any problems at all while travelling, but just in case, you should have a plan. You are already an expert in your own condition, and your normal first aid tips will apply while you are on holiday. But you may wish to familiarise yourself with the emergency number at your destination, and to work out which hospital or healthcare centre you would attend.

A letter from your doctor explaining your condition may be helpful to a medic treating you abroad, and also the notes from your last appointment.