Travel Tips for First Time Cruisers Over 50 from VFW September 2012 issue
Don't trust over-the-counter drugs overseas. Be sure to carry basic OTC drugs like antacids, cough and cold medicine, motion sickness medicines and antihistamines.
Take more prescription medicine than you think you will need and keep it in your carry-on. You're much less likely to lose it that way.
Create a simple "medical information form" to carry in your wallet or with your passport. Include important information like emergency contacts, current known food and drug allergies.
Remember, Medicare will not cover you outside of the United States, Canada, or Mexico. Even in the United States, medicare will only pay to get you to the nearest hospital - no matter how inadequate that
hospital maybe. If you need to be evacuated to a more appropriate facility, it's at your expense.
Having traveled all over Europe, I tend to disagree with their statement. Often times these things are written by people who have no idea what they're talking about and have never even been to Europe.
It's also very unfair to categorize all countries outside of the U.S. as 'overseas' and then say don't trust any over-the-counter drugs in every country.
In fact, in many occasions, you'll find the products they sell in alot of countries in Europe are better than what we sell in the U.S.
For example, one thing we’ve learned during our travels in Europe, they have some outstanding bath, facial, and hand products that do not include many of the chemicals used in U.S. products. In fact, they have banned over 120 chemicals, which were used in these products, while the U.S. has only banned 10 of them. This was confirmed in an investigative national news report we saw in the U.S. not too long ago, so we always try to buy items like this when traveling overseas.
My wife once got a sinus infection when we were traveling in Europe and she went to the local pharmacist, who gave her some stuff that cleared her right up. It was wonderful. Came back to the U.S. and asked our doctor about it and he said it's great stuff but you can only get it by prescription here and it's alot more expensive. But he said the same thing; often times their products are better than ours, cost less, and contain less banned chemicals that we still use here.
Plus, alot of products we've come accustom to in the U.S. are now sold internationally and are exactly the same as what you find here.
Yes, you want to insure you take more prescription medication than you'll need - that's a no-brainer. But if you want to try and carry all the over-the-counter medications you might need, you'll have to have another whole suitcase! Let's see, if we want to make sure and pack all this stuff, let's not forget medication for diarrhea, nausea, eyes, nose, ears, throat, etc, etc, etc.
Keep in mind, if you're doing a cruise, the ship's store will have alot of this stuff anyway.
And yes, you do need to be careful in some third world countries.
As for medicare or any other health insurance plan, when traveling outside of the U.S. it's always highly suggested purchasing travel insurance through your travel agent as it will cover any out-of-pocket expenses not covered by your regular insurance.
But don't get spooked by articles like this when traveling to the normal tourist destinations in Europe. Their statements are too generalized and not correct for all places.
I also have to disagree with the first statement. If you are traveling the "Third World" this may be true but if you are traveling in Europe, Australia or any major city in South America the OTC products, from a reputable retailer, are just fine.
The rest of the statements are standard travel guidelines that everyone should follow.
Maybe it depends on what destinations you choose, but I tend to agree with the Prince. OK, so I do tend to go places that aren't so well developed, but even if you CAN get whatever you need, it doesn't mean it's easy, or cheap, or anything other than a disruption in your travel plans.
Sure OTC in London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Rio, Tel Aviv, or Paris are probably fine. But why take the chance? I can't imagine traveling without an extra weeks worth of my prescription meds along with a bottle of generic extra strength tums that I get from WalMart. I don't want to waste my TRAVEL time in a pharmacy with my electronic translator trying to figure out if the package I have, written is French, is what I need or not.
Be a boy scout. Don't be afraid, but do be prepared.
Hey lighten up.
Overseas means a lot of things (certainly not just Europe) - most cruises go to Mexico (east or west coast) and the Caribbean.
I totally agree that in many of those places OTC drugs can be of much lower quality - especially in Mexico.
Furthermore - you can only buy MOST OTC drugs including even antacids, aspirin, band-aids etc ONLY in drug stores (pharmacies) in most of Europe and Mexico, meaning the average port stop or small town probably won't have anything you need available.
Here in the states a gas station or grocery store can sell aspirin. Not in France, England or most of Europe or Mexico.
It is a good point - do your homework before you go anywhere and in any case, you can never go wrong bringing your own stuff - you get what you expect and you have it when you need it.
Good advice, BPC.
We were scuba diving in San Carlos, Mexico once and when we surfaced my son got a man-of-war jelly fish right across his face. These are extremely dangerous and, needless to say, he was in massive pain and we had nothing to alleviate the problem. I immediately took him to the nearest farmacia (or pharmacy). On our way, my wife looked up the Mexican word for jelly fish in the Mexican/English dictionary I had. As I walked up to the counter, I was pointing to his face saying whatever word I found and the pharmacist took out a tube of something, spread it on his face, and he got immediate relief. Total cost; $5. When we got back home, I found this item is one of the best in the world for the relief of jelly fish stings, but it's only by prescription in the U.S. I can't imagine how long it would have taken to go to an emergency room, waited in their long lines, and had him suffering all the while. Not to mention having to pay a $100 co-pay to get the same stuff.
Yes, we should always take more of our prescription medication than we need when traveling. And yes, we should take some medication to help eliminate any usual problems like indigestion or diarrhea that we could encounter. But there are alot of things that can happen when traveling we just can't foresee or plan for. If we let those things dictate what we'll do or not do, we'll never do anything outside of our comfort zone. Sometimes we have to go outside that zone to learn and experience new things and to do so, we take calculated risks.
It's a wonderful world and yes, we need to take some precautions, but we cannot plan for everything that could happen and we can't take everything with us 'just in case'.
The title of the article dealt with cruisers. As I said, all cruise ships have the basic OTC items in their stores. There was no mention of that in the story.
As I said, I just think stories like this are written by people who have no idea what they're talking about, group every country in to one category, and are afraid of their own shadows. It appears to me their story, as usual, is meant more to make people afraid than it is to inform. I took journalism in college and the number one thing we were taught about writing a story is that we were to do it in such a way as to inform people with the facts without influencing them with our personal feelings. Their first sentence is indicative of their ignorance and is insulting to our European friends.
We've been to 40 countries so far and we've never had any problems where the locals weren't ready to help us in any way we needed it. People around the world are wonderful and it's a shame stories like this tend to try and scare people from finding out just how wonderful other countries can be.
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