How to fly with medication, and all your other travel questions answered by a pharmacist.

Thanks to our brand partner, Amcal

Like any good millennial, I don’t spend that much time on Facebook these days. 

When I do, I like to ensure I fall into a deep, deep hole of travel-related Facebook groups. 

I can lose a whole evening scrolling through destination suggestions, airport hacks and travel horror stories as I try to plan the perfect trip.

I keep my FOMO in check by sticking to just one activity per day rather than jam-packing our itinerary, and only use these tried and tested hacks. But I still struggle with the health stuff.

I’m not alone. The posts in these groups make it pretty clear: whether it’s a local domestic trip or overseas, solo or with the family in tow, everyone has a bunch of questions about vaccinations and health on holiday. Luckily a pharmacist is here to help us all out.

As the Pharmacist owner of Hope Island 7 Day Amcal, and mum of three, Amy Ford helps her customers navigate travel-related health questions every day.

From concerns about jet lag and vaccinations to battling “travellers' tummy”, here are the seven questions she always gets asked.

1. What vaccines do I need and when should I have them?

Different countries have different travel vaccination requirements, and the information on Google isn’t always up-to-date — but your pharmacist will be.

"I need to know your destination, what vaccines you’ve already had and how long ago," Ford tells Mamamia. "From there, I will check the current recommendations for your destination, look at your vaccination history, discuss your risks and make tailored recommendations about the vaccinations you need."


Timing is important, so plan ahead. "Some vaccination schedules require multiple injections a certain number of weeks or months apart," says Ford.

Wherever you are in Australia, you can head into your local Amcal Pharmacy to speak with a trained pharmacist about your specific travel plans. 

Amcal pharmacies can dispense most vaccines and depending on the State or Territory, administer many vaccinations in their private on-site consultation rooms. It’s an easy way to get everything done in one place, especially if you need travel vaccinations with a baby or child in tow.

Top tip: Many vaccinations are now free following the launch of the National Immunisation Program (NIP) pharmacy program. Eligible patients can get vaccinated for free via their local pharmacy for influenza, whooping cough, herpes papillomavirus (HPV), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (dTpa), meningococcal A,C,W,Y, shingles and pneumococcal. 

2. I always get sick when I go on holidays. How can I avoid that next time?

Preparing for travel can be stressful, and especially if you’re trying to juggle work, home, packing and family before you go. "People often get sick as soon as their body has a chance to stop," Ford tells Mamamia. So unfair.

"There are some supplement options you can take before you leave to help support your body during times of stress and support your immune system, too. Starting these at least a week before travel can be helpful in preventing illness once you touch down at your destination."

Staying up-to-date with your vaccinations will also reduce the risk of getting sick once you land. "For anyone travelling to the Northern hemisphere, our seasons are opposite so consider a flu vaccination, and make sure you’ve had a COVID-19 vaccination if you're due, especially if there are outbreaks at your destination," says Ford. As always, prior to any vaccination or starting a new vitamin or supplement, check with your Amcal pharmacist or GP first on what's recommended for you.


3. What’s the best way to travel with my meds? 

Ford recommends keeping medications in their original packaging, or considering a pharmacy medication packing solution. "If you are worried the boxes will fill up your suitcase, your pharmacist can help with special medication packs that contain all the names and descriptions of each of the medications. It’s a much better option than a bag of tablets with no label."

4. What should I take in my first aid kit?

Pack for common ailments: burns, bites, allergic reactions, cuts and grazes, colds and flu, pain and dehydration. Some other staples Ford recommends are sunscreen, insect repellent, probiotics, rehydration tablets and hand sanitiser.

Depending on your destination and the activities you’re doing, you may need some more specific items — your pharmacist can help you build the perfect first aid kit. 

5. How can I avoid "travellers' tummy"?

Saccharomyces boulardii is a commonly-recommended weapon for treating symptoms of Bali-belly, travellers' tummy and every other cute name we give... well, diarrhoea. It’s a yeast available in tablet form that acts as a prebiotic, supporting beneficial intestinal flora and healthy digestive system function.

Other tips: Wash your hands, choose cooked foods, stick with bottled water and avoid ice to minimise your risk.

6. How do I deal with jetlag?

Hydration is key according to Ford.

"Making sure you stay well-hydrated throughout the flight is helpful, and this includes avoiding excessive alcohol."


Try to get some sleep on the flight too, in line with the time zone you are heading to. If you’re not a great plane sleeper (I’m with you), Ford recommends talking to your pharmacist about medication or supplement options that will fit your flight times.

7. I have sleep apnoea but I’m worried about travelling with my machine. Should I leave it at home?

Getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging when travelling, with uncomfortable pillows and new surroundings. The last thing you need while away is a night interrupted by the symptoms of untreated sleep apnoea, plus the fatigue it can cause the next day.

When it comes to travelling with a sleep apnoea device, Ford's advice is always: "You need to take your machine with you."

"It’s an essential medical device. Check with your airline first, but you can usually take it on board with you as an extra piece of hand luggage — on top of your usual allowance. If you need to use it on the plane, some devices run on a battery, otherwise, speak to your airline as there are dedicated seats on planes where you can plug them in. Continuing with your therapy is important and will help to ensure you can enjoy your holiday."

Check your family's eligibility and book your vaccination appointments for familytravelCOVID-19 and flu at your local Amcal.

This information is general in nature and does not replace the advice of a healthcare professional. As with any vaccination or illness, always seek health and medical advice from a qualified pharmacist or your healthcare professional.

Feature Image: Amcal.

Just Ask Amcal
From our beginnings in 1937, Amcal has grown to become one of Australia’s most well-known and trusted pharmacies. With a network of over 200 pharmacies in local communities across every state and territory, Amcal’s mission is to put professional healthcare within reach of every Australian. No matter the pharmacy’s size or location, there will always be an Amcal pharmacist available in-store with expert advice.
From vaccinations to our Annual Health Check, our growing range of health services is redefining the pharmacy experience from a counter you wait at to a place you go when you want to get better. So whether it’s a big thing, or a little thing, for you or someone you love…just ask Amcal.