Travelling and medical documentation
Some travellers have special needs or concerns that require specific attention, particularly if air travel is involved. Older travellers, women who are pregnant or people with a chronic condition may be required to carry documentation of their medical requirements. Here are some tips to make sure you have everything covered.
Documentation: All travellers may wish to carry documentation stating basic health information such as blood type and allergies.
Pregnancy. Pregnant women may require a letter from their doctor or midwife stating their expected date of delivery, as international flight is not permitted after 36 weeks by most airlines (or after 32 weeks if you are expecting a multiple birth).
Medical conditions. If you have a medical condition that may require special attention during travel, you may need to provide your airline with a medical certificate. By making your airline aware of your needs, you will ensure your maximum comfort on your journey.
Pacemakers. People who have a pacemaker may be concerned about security checks as pacemakers may be affected by modern screening equipment. All travellers with a pacemaker should carry a letter from their doctor and advise the staff at the airport screening area.
Vaccination. Always carry your vaccination record with you, especially your vaccination certificate for yellow fever. This is required for entry to some overseas countries.
Travelling with medicines. If you require a prescription medicine, you should carry a supply with you (preferably in your hand luggage), along with a letter from your doctor certifying your need for the medicine and any other medical items that may be questioned by customs officials, such as syringes. Because of airline security, large quantities of liquids and sharp objects may have to remain in checked luggage. Make sure that any prescriptions you may need filled overseas are written as generic names: trade names can differ among countries. Where possible carry enough medicines to last the length of your trip as some may not be readily available in other countries.
MedicAlert. Recognisable identification such as a MedicAlert bracelet may be advisable for those with chronic conditions such as diabetes and for those with potentially dangerous allergies. These types of identification are internationally recognised and will ensure you are diagnosed and treated promptly, as well as overcoming any language difficulties in the event of an emergency.
Consult your doctor or healthcare professional if you have any queries about your health on holidays, or queries about documentation you may require.
Last Reviewed: 07/12/2010
1. World Health Organization. World Health Organization. Health risks and general precautions: general considerations. In: International travel and health: situation as on 1 January 2010. Geneva: WHO; 2010: 1-11. http://www.who.int/ith/en/ (accessed Dec 2010).
2. World Health Organization. World Health Organization. Mode of travel: health considerations. In: International travel and health: situation as on 1 January 2010. Geneva: WHO; 2010: 1-11. http://www.who.int/ith/en/ (accessed Dec 2010).
3. World Health Organization. World Health Organization. Vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccines. In: International travel and health: situation as on 1 January 2010. Geneva: WHO; 2010: 91-141. http://www.who.int/ith/en/ (accessed Dec 2010).
4. Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Travelling well. http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/travelwell.pdf (accessed Dec 2010).
Pregnancy: holidays and travel
There are precautions you can take to avoid problems if you are pregnant and travelling, even by air.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common type of heart rhythm disorder. It is characterised by a rapid and irregular heartbeat and can increase the risk of stroke.
Hepatitis B infection can be either acute (short-lived) or chronic (long-term). Chronic hepatitis B can lead to complications such as liver cirrhosis.
Travel immunisations are important in pre-trip planning to certain countries. Vaccinations that travellers may need include tetanus and diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, and typhoid vaccinations.
Malaria precautions while pregnant or breast feeding
Malaria infection in pregnant women may be more severe than in non-pregnant women. Find out what precautions need to be taken for travel.