It’s Flashback Friday! I posted this a couple of years ago, but since then I’ve come into some new information, so I thought it was time for an update! No matter how far away you go, at some point you will likely need to travel with a prescription, or maybe just some ibuprofen and melatonin for your flight. This post was the brainchild of my older brother, Jared. He called me up one day and said, “Have you ever done a post about what to do with medicine when you travel?” While I think I’ve mentioned it a time or two in passing, I think it’s a big enough concern for some travelers to warrant its own post. So here is a list of some things to keep in mind when you travel with meds.
1. Check with TSA
No matter your opinion of TSA, you are at their mercy when you travel. If you have to travel with medication, be it liquid, pills, requires refrigeration, etc., you can find most of the medical information you need here on their website. If you’re still not sure, they do this awesome thing on Twitter and Facebook. Just Tweet your question with @AskTSA, and you will receive a tweet back with your answer shortly! You can also Facebook your question and tag @AskTSA and await their reply!
2. Check with Your Pharmacist
They are the experts! Stop in before your next trip and see what they have to say about traveling with your prescription. My friend Paige is a pharmacist, and her number one pointer is that most people don’t know they can get a “vacation override” for a long trip or to reorder a prescription you forgot at home. This only works for travel within the US, though, not internationally! If you do need to see a doctor in a different country to fill a prescription, be aware that your prescription may have a different name in that country. Know what’s been going into your body!
My cousin Jeff, also a pharmacist, says his number one tip is to pack your prescriptions in your carry-on, not your checked luggage. He also says to bring a written prescription from your doctor, even for glasses and contacts, just in case. Not sure if your prescription is legal in the country you’re visiting? Most up-to-date guide books like Eyewitness Travel and others will address that information.
3. Do Your Research
This is such an important step, and only recently did I realize just how important it is. There is a British woman currently serving time in an Egyptian jail for possessing a prescription medication that is legal in her home country, but not in Egypt. She had no idea, but she is paying the price anyway. Please do your research, and ensure that your prescription is legal where you’re going. A quick Google is a great place to start, and if you’re still not sure, as a nurse or doctor because they will know, or they will know who can tell you for certain.
4. Pack Your Prescription Packaging
Typically, I would recommend just taking what you need and putting it in a ziplock bag or something similar to save space, but not for prescriptions! It is very important to have proof that you legally possess all the medications with which you are traveling. Not only is it proof if you’re questioned by airport security, the information on the packaging will be helpful if you lose or damage your prescriptions and need to get them refilled in a foreign country.
5. Pack It in Your Carry-on
I do not check a bag, nor do I recommend that anyone else check a bag either. But if you do have to check a bag, make sure your medicine is in your carry-on. If your luggage gets lost, which still happens even in the 21st century, you’re out of luck and out of meds! Also no good! If you have a medication that needs to stay cold, ask a flight attendant if they can keep it in their fridge. Also, remember that the overhead bins are often cold in flight, so that should help.
6. Put it Away Quickly
I once had to bring a prescription with me that needed to stay at room temperature or below. We planned on going to our accommodation to put our luggage away, but plans changed at the last minute and we ended up being out and about all day–with our bags in the trunk of our hot car! Luckily, I was able to call my insurance company and get a vacation override for a replacement. I just needed to call my pharmacy at home and give them permission to release my prescription to a local pharmacy near where we were staying. Crisis averted! If this happens to you, just be sure to have your prescription transferred back to your pharmacy at home in time for your next pick-up.
If you will be out all day or you’re not sure when or if you’ll have access to a refrigerator, you can take your medication in this handy bag from Amazon. It even has a digital temperature read-out so you can be sure your medication is not getting too hot. Click the photo to see all the features and get yours!
Have you had an interesting medicine and traveling experience? What did you do about it?
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