Tips For Traveling With Medication

DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is for general travel health advice and information only. It is not a replacement for a personal consultation with your doctor or a travel medicine specialist. Check with your physician for drug interactions with your prescriptions before taking any over-the-counter medications.

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We travel for many reasons. We travel because we love to! We travel because of our work. We travel because of family and friends. It could also be because of an emergency.

Our destinations could vary too. It could be state to another state. It could be a road trip or a cruise. It could be international travels that may require us more than one stopover.

Whatever our reasons are or how far our trips will take us, we should be prepared for traveling with medication.

Traveling with medication

Traveling with medication in the car

DO NOT keep medicine in the glove compartment of your car when traveling with medication. Medicine can get too hot, cold, or wet there. Keep your medicines in their original child-resistant containers, not baggies or pill organizers that can be easily accessed by young children. You may want to get thermoformed plastic trays that can be personalized to secure the containers and transport of your medicines.

Traveling Internationally

Traveling with medication across international borders is sometimes necessary to treat serious health problems. It is important to note that each country has its own guidelines about which medicines are legal. Medicines that are commonly prescribed or available over the counter in the United States could be considered unlicensed or controlled substances in other countries.

Rules could differ among countries when traveling with medication and there can be serious consequences if laws are violated as visitors. Penalties can range from repossession of your medicine, which could harm your medical treatment, to rigid penalties, including imprisonment on charges for drug trafficking. To avoid headaches on your travel especially in a foreign land, you may look into these consideration when traveling with medication on an airplane.

  • Keep your medicine in your carry-on luggage.
  • Keep medicine in the original bottles.
  • Bring copies of your prescriptions.
  • If traveling with someone who has diabetes, ask your provider for a letter that gives details of what you are bringing.

Purchasing Medication at Your Destination

Don’t assume on being able to buy your medicines at your destination. They may not be available, and if they are, they may not meet US quality standards. In many developing countries, counterfeit drugs are a big problem.

If you must buy drugs during your trip in an emergency, there are ways to reduce your chances of buying counterfeit drugs:

  • Contact the nearest US embassy or consulate. They should be able to connect you with doctors and pharmacies.
  • Buy medicines only from licensed pharmacies and get a receipt. Do not buy medicines from open markets.
  • Ask the pharmacist whether the drug has the same active ingredient as the one you were taking.
  • Make sure the medicine is in its original packaging.
  • Look closely at the packaging. Sometimes poor-quality printing or otherwise strange-looking packaging will indicate a counterfeit product.
  • Check with the foreign embassy of the country you will be visiting or passing through to make sure your medicines are permitted in that country.
  • Make an appointment with a travel medicine specialist or your health care provider to get needed vaccines and medicines at least 4 to 6 weeks before you leave.
  • If you plan to be gone for more than 30 days, talk to your doctor about how you can get enough medicine for your trip. Sometimes insurance companies will pay for only a 30-day supply at a time.
  • Ask your doctor about any changes to taking your medicine once you’re in a different time zone. Medicines should be taken according to the time since your last dose, not the local time of day.
  • Ask how to safely store medicine and check whether it needs refrigeration. Keep in mind that extreme temperatures can reduce the effectiveness of many medicines.

Pack smart

Again, put your medicines in your carry-on luggage. You don’t want to be stuck without them if your suitcase gets lost!

  • Bring enough medicine to last your whole trip, plus a little extra in case of delays.
  • Keep medicines in their original, labeled containers. Ensure that they are clearly labeled with your full passport name, doctor’s name, generic and brand name, and exact dosage.
  • Leave a copy of your prescriptions at home with a friend or relative in case you lose your copy or need an emergency refill.

Over- the- counter medicines to pack

  • Cough Drops or Suppressant
  • Decongestant
  • Tylenol or Advil
  • Mild Laxative
  • Diarrhea Medicine:
  • Antacid
  • Antihistamine
  • Motion Sickness Medicine

We want to be free from any travel hassle or potential health consequences. We want to focus more on our purpose for doing the trip instead of getting into troubles because we ignored some safety measures on bringing medicines abroad. But traveling with medication can be imperative to our health.

It is indeed a challenge to pack light when you want to not have a bulky carry-on. But when we are in a foreign land we need to consider setting aside enough space in our luggage for the essentials to stay healthy and focused as we enjoy the adventure.

For more traveling posts from The Everyday Mom Life, click here.

About the writer:

Donna Lee is the operations manager and resident writer at Plastiform, a thermoforming plastics company. She developed her passion for plastics working in her uncle’s plastics vacuum forming factory. She made her way to Plastiform where she’s been working for 3 decades passionately serving customers. In her spare time, she writes about the wonders of plastics and the power of sustainable packaging.

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