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Tips for Traveling with Medications

December 06, 2011 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

www.Medtipster.com Source: Eli Trathen 12.6.2011

Everyone looks forward to vacation, and a good deal of planning goes into most trips to make the experience as relaxing as possible. This planning may involve booking a hotel, purchasing traveler’s checks, and packing the sun block. However, one more concern that must be remembered affects millions of Americans. Namely, people need to be aware of how to travel with prescription medications, and what one should expect if the need for a prescription medication arises while away. When away from home for an extended time, it is advisable to think about your medications.

Before You Go
Prepare a list of all of your medications and a list of contact information for your doctor(s). Carry the name, location, and phone number of your pharmacy as well. If questions arise about your medications, or if you lose your prescription, you will have the needed information.

If you are flying, keep your medications in your carry-on luggage. That way, you will have access to them during your flight and will not lose them if your luggage is lost. Also, keeping your medications with you helps prevent exposure to extreme temperatures in the baggage compartment. Extreme temperatures can change the drug’s effectiveness.

If travelling with needles and syringes, carry information that proves the syringes were prescribed for a medical reason by your doctor. A copy of your prescription and a label attached to the product is sufficient proof. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes be prepared to provide airport security with copies of prescriptions for diabetes medications and supplies, as well as complete contact information for your doctor. Make sure all prescription medications have the name of the drug, the name of your doctor, and your name on the label.

Airport security requires that medications are transported in their original, labeled containers. The labeled vial from the pharmacy that contains your pills meets this requirement. Check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website prior to travel for the most up-to-date information about travelling with medications. Airport security may ask you to prove that the name on your prescription bottle(s) matches your identification. According to the TSA:

  • Medications must be labeled, so they are identifiable.
  • Medications in daily dosage containers are allowed through the checkpoint once they have been screened.
  • Medication and related supplies are normally X-rayed. TSA allows you the option of requesting a visual inspection of your medication and supplies, which you must arrange before the screening process begins. The X-ray process has not been found to affect drug products.

Long Distance Travel
Consult with your doctor or pharmacist if traveling over many time zones to work out a plan to adjust the timing or dosage of your medications. He or she will also be able to determine whether a plan is necessary given the medications you are taking.

If you are visiting a foreign country, be wary of buying over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Many medicines that are available by prescription only in the United States are available OTC in other countries. Beware of these medications, as they may have been manufactured in facilities that do not meet Food and Drug Administration code. You may receive a medication with less effectiveness; or, even worse, you may receive the wrong drug. Taking these medications could put you at risk.

Extra Medications
Take along more medication than the number of days of your trip. A good rule of thumb is to have at least an additional week of medication on-hand. Unexpected delays can happen, and it will be easier for you to have one less thing to worry about should this happen. It is best to have all of your medications refilled before you travel. If it is too early to get a refill before you leave, but you will need more medication while you are gone, ask your doctor and pharmacist if they will refill early as a special circumstance. If you are not leaving the country, remember that large, national pharmacy chains allow you to refill your prescription wherever you happen to travel nationwide.

While You’re There
If you are visiting a hot, humid climate, try to keep your medications in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight. While many people assume bathrooms are a good place to store medications, this is not necessarily true. The heat and humidity in bathrooms can cause a drug to lose effectiveness. Be aware of medication storage requirements for the medications you take on your trip. All medications are labeled with an ideal range of temperatures for storage. Some medications require refrigeration when stored. This may be done by packing the medication in a small cooler with ice and a thermometer to ensure the temperature is kept at an appropriate level. Likewise, you may ask your hotel if a small refrigerator is available to help with your drug storage. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about the best method of travelling with these more sensitive drugs.

Another climate consideration is increased sensitivity to sunlight. Some medications can cause a rare side effect, called photosensitivity, which could cause inflammation of the skin (similar to sunburn). Products like ciprofloxacin (for infections), Bactrim and doxycycline (antibiotics), and diclofenac (for pain) have this potential. Ask your pharmacist if any of the medications you are or may take on vacation could cause photosensitivity. Try to avoid excessive sun exposure, and cover up with SPF 30 or greater sunblock.

Hopefully, using the above tips for traveling with medications will allow you the relaxation you deserve on your next vacation.

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