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Old Sep 14, 09, 11:25 am   #1
 
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"Over the counter" meds/vitamins on international travel

Does anyone know much about carrying "health supplement" type medicines, like say fish oil, or vitamins, or other things that are "over the counter"? It has been years since I traveled out of the country.

I take several supplements like that I would like to carry along, just don't have much room, and all the original bottles are pretty big. (heading to Central America next month) Traveling inside the US, I can put them all in a daily-dose type container, but I have a feeling that won't work for international travel.

I would never check my prescription meds, but I could just throw all the vitamins and stuff in a daily dose container and check it... But, wondering about the customs guys at the other end... they might not like that.

Any suggestions? Or will I just have to check a bunch of big bottles...

Dan
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Old Sep 14, 09, 12:11 pm   #2
 
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Originally Posted by MissionTraveler View Post
Does anyone know much about carrying "health supplement" type medicines, like say fish oil, or vitamins, or other things that are "over the counter"? It has been years since I traveled out of the country.

I take several supplements like that I would like to carry along, just don't have much room, and all the original bottles are pretty big. (heading to Central America next month) Traveling inside the US, I can put them all in a daily-dose type container, but I have a feeling that won't work for international travel.

I would never check my prescription meds, but I could just throw all the vitamins and stuff in a daily dose container and check it... But, wondering about the customs guys at the other end... they might not like that.

Any suggestions? Or will I just have to check a bunch of big bottles...

Dan
I would not be overly concerned about other countries customs agents. I normally just put all my supplements for the time I am abroad into a single bottle. US customs on the other hand can be a real pain in the behind, so I just bring enough for my stay and make sure that the bottle is empty when re-entering the US.
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Old Sep 14, 09, 1:40 pm   #3
 
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It can depend on where you are going. I haven't had my bags searched in ages flying into western Europe. (knock on wood). Original containers are best. A bottle of assorted pills is likely to be more suspicious than anything with a label on it. I did once have a Polish customs guy fixate on a bottle of vitamin C, totally not noticing the TWO cartons of cigarettes in the same bag. This was on a train from Russia and only one carton is allowed when entering the EU. He asked several times what the pills were, I said the word 'vitamins' which he finally understood. Prescription medication should always be in the original bottle as well. You don't want to spend a few days in some police station in some remote corner of the world waiting to have your fish oil analyzed.

If you are going to say, Costa Rica, they are used to American seniors with lots of meds going there. I have a friend who vacations in Nicaragua and he carries prescription drugs and supplements, no problem.

It is worth taking the things you may need with you, they can be pricey 'over there'. A 500 count bottle of ibuprofen will blow a German's mind.

Last edited by Willytx; Sep 14, 09 at 1:55 pm. Reason: Distracted - train of thought went off the rails....
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Old Sep 14, 09, 1:41 pm   #4
 
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Originally Posted by Xcheckme View Post
I would not be overly concerned about other countries customs agents. I normally just put all my supplements for the time I am abroad into a single bottle. US customs on the other hand can be a real pain in the behind, so I just bring enough for my stay and make sure that the bottle is empty when re-entering the US.

Wow, that is what I was hoping to hear... I am going to try and hold it to a minimum anyway, but I hate to go cold turkey on some of this stuff... gonna be under enough stress as it is. Traveling to some back woods villages without electric or water, etc.

Thanks!

anyone have any thoughts on Nicaragua customs?
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Old Sep 14, 09, 1:44 pm   #5
 
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Originally Posted by Willytx View Post
It can depend on where you are going. ... You don't want to spend a few days in some police station in some remote corner of the world waiting to have your fish oil analyzed.

It is worth taking the things you may need with you, they can be pricey 'over there'. A 500 count bottle of ibuprofen will blow a German's mind away.
That is kind of what I was worried about... that in Nicaragua, it might be different, because they just don't have this kind of stuff, and the guy might just not know what he is looking at...

thanks.
Dan
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Old Sep 14, 09, 8:55 pm   #6
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As a certified hypochondriac, I've been carrying a raft of pills (for headache, muscle ache, cramps, stuffy sinuses, constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach, erectile dysfunction, gas, heartburn, fungal infections, allergies, snoring, swimmers ear, wounds, lesions, cold sores, earwax, toothache, and general dissatisfaction with life) for more than 30 years, and no one has ever bothered me about it.
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Old Sep 14, 09, 9:39 pm   #7
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Never had anything medical questioned anywhere in the world.

I've never been searched other than returning to the US or communist countries.

Most of the US searches have been purely ag related--they didn't care about anything that their x-ray didn't show as organic.

Going back farther I can't recall details but one does stand out that doesn't make too much sense in hindsight: They opened our bags (my mother--blind--and me {17 at the time}) and the first thing they found was a big seed pod. The bag had been packed underneath a big tree, we didn't notice it add the seed pod. The customs guy laughed at our depiction of the tree's behavior, disposed of the seed pod and didn't even look farther into it--just said to get rid of any more if it managed to slip more in.
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Old Sep 15, 09, 10:49 am   #8
 
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Originally Posted by polonius View Post
As a certified hypochondriac, I've been carrying a raft of pills (for headache, muscle ache, cramps, stuffy sinuses, constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach, erectile dysfunction, gas, heartburn, fungal infections, allergies, snoring, swimmers ear, wounds, lesions, cold sores, earwax, toothache, and general dissatisfaction with life) for more than 30 years, and no one has ever bothered me about it.
OK, but were they mixed together in one bottle? did you have them individually bottled in original containers?

My problem is carrying a bunch of almost empty bottles is going to take up way too much space... We are going to end up in a cessna and finally in a dug out canoe before the trip is over. Trying to pack as light as possible...

Thanks.
Dan
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Old Sep 15, 09, 8:12 pm   #9
 
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Originally Posted by MissionTraveler View Post
My problem is carrying a bunch of almost empty bottles is going to take up way too much space... We are going to end up in a cessna and finally in a dug out canoe before the trip is over. Trying to pack as light as possible...
How long is your trip? Can you just buy intermediate-sized, sealed bottles of your supplements?

If not, fill the space in bigger bottles with stuff you'll use: clean underwear, first aid supplies, sock liners, wet wipes, glasses cleaners, clothespins, safety pins, etc. In some remote areas, those big empty waterproof, bugproof bottles will be useful to your hosts when you leave.

I've traveled in Africa and Central Asia with the type of supplements you mention in opened bottles and/or daily dose containers (only three or four kinds, not nearly as many as polonius.) Kept a few extra for customs to test (fish oil is pretty convincingly fish oil), learned the local word for "vitamins" or "medicine," but never had a problem. Central America may differ.

Happy travels!
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Old Sep 16, 09, 1:06 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by YCTTSFM View Post
How long is your trip? Can you just buy intermediate-sized, sealed bottles of your supplements?

If not, fill the space in bigger bottles with stuff you'll use: clean underwear, first aid supplies, sock liners, wet wipes, glasses cleaners, clothespins, safety pins, etc. In some remote areas, those big empty waterproof, bugproof bottles will be useful to your hosts when you leave.

I've traveled in Africa and Central Asia with the type of supplements you mention in opened bottles and/or daily dose containers (only three or four kinds, not nearly as many as polonius.) Kept a few extra for customs to test (fish oil is pretty convincingly fish oil), learned the local word for "vitamins" or "medicine," but never had a problem. Central America may differ.

Happy travels!
All really good ideas! Thank you... had thought of buying some of the vitamins in daily dose packets also. I am going to check small size bottles for most of it, but you are right, a water tight bottle is probably a premium item there.
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