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Over the years airline regulations have changed. These days there are restrictions on liquids that can be brought onto a plane as well as rules for prescription drugs and other items.

If you’re planning an upcoming trip and need to take medication with you, here are 6 tips you’ll need to know to ensure your travel plans go as expected.

6 Tips for Traveling with Medication

Check Your Supply

Before heading out, it’s important to make sure you have enough of all of your medications to make it through the entire trip. Since travel delays happen unexpectedly, be sure you have extra doses available just in case your flight gets cancelled or delayed.

Ensuring you have enough medication makes your trip much easier. Having to worry about filling prescriptions and dealing with insurance coverage in a new place can be a huge headache (especially if you don’t speak the language). So before you hop on a plane and jet off to your destination, double check your prescription supply.

If for some reason your insurance company denies providing extra doses, consider the option of filling your prescription while traveling. In which case, you should research local GP’s, hospitals and doctors before traveling.

To save money, know which local pharmacies are available. In some cases you may also be able to lower your costs by finding discount coupons in advance; as an example, Viagra discount coupons are often available for pharmacies in the United States.

Medication drugs health RF

Properly Store Your Medication

While it may be easier to divide your medications for the week using a weekly or monthly pill dispenser, when traveling, it’s best to bring all of your prescription medications in their original container.

During airport security checkpoints, you may have to prove that the prescriptions are yours. The easiest way to do this is to bring the prescription bottles that have your name on them. From there security agents can match the name to a form of personal identification.

If you use a pill dispenser, bring it with you and set it up once you’ve arrived at your destination. Though this takes a little time out of your vacation, it’s well worth the peace of mind of having to deal with proving that your medications are in fact your own.

Another tip for safely storing your prescriptions is to pack them in your carry-on bag. This allows you to know at all times where your medications are. Otherwise you risk them being stolen or lost in the shuffle of baggage. Packing medication in your carry on also eliminates the risk of storing your drugs in an improper temperature.

Pill Organizers We Recommend

 medical pill dispenser Amazon

MEDca Weekly Pill Organizer

 medical pill dispenser Amazon

LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser

 medical pill dispenser Amazon

Ezy Dose AM/PM Push Button Pill Planner

Sign Up For a Medical Notification Card

Do you suffer from a certain health condition that requires access to specialized medical equipment? If so, having a TSA medical notification card can make the screening process much easier for you.

While the card doesn’t exempt you from security screening, the card is a quick way to let TSA agents know that you may have more than the allowed carry on items.

 TSA medical notification card

Update Your Dosage Schedule

Will your travels take you across one or more time zones? While traveling across the United States or to a whole new country is sure to be a worthwhile trip, you’ll need to pay careful attention to when you take your medication.

If you’ll be traveling to a different time zone, chances are that you’ll need to adjust your medication schedule to make up for the time difference. Be sure to discuss changes with your doctor to ensure that you’re not at risk of too low or too high of a dosage.

Since it’s hard to keep track of different time zones on your own, keep your phone handy. Most of today’s phones allow you to check times in various time zones. This will help you stay on track with taking your medication, especially if you’re on a precise drug schedule.

Be Aware of Restrictions

Understanding prescription drug restrictions is important, especially if you are traveling outside of the United States. For example, in Japan, it’s illegal to bring Adderall, Sudafed, and prescription amphetamines into the country.

If you’re unsure about drug restrictions, call the country’s embassy to ensure that you aren’t breaking any laws. You’ll also want to look into any restrictions on medical devices like oxygen tanks, syringes, CPAP machines, and more. Some countries require certain forms to be filed before medical equipment can be brought into the country.

Bring Documentation

Even if you plan to travel with your prescriptions in their original bottle, it never hurts to bring extra documentation with you.

If you can, bring the written prescription from your doctor or a copy of your medical record as proof that the prescription medications belong to you.

Traveling with prescription medication can be a bit of a headache if you don’t know the rules and regulations. Before heading off to your vacation destination, be sure that you’ve followed all of these tips to prevent any issues with your prescription drugs.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

    26 Comments

  1. These are all great tips on how to travel with medication and pass through the typical inspection points with no issues. Fortunately I don’t have anything major to worry about outside of bringing aspirin with me.

    • Thanks Noel, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. And happy to hear that you don’t have the need for it!

  2. You have some great tips here. As much as it is important to carry sufficient quantity of medicines to avoid running out of stock in a new place it is equally important to be aware of the restrictions. It is also helpful to carry a Medical Notification Card for smooth security screening process.

    • Thanks Rashmi, glad you found the article helpful. The medical notification card really does come in handy if you run into issues with screening 🙂

  3. I’d never thought of a TSA medical notification card, I have diabetes and take other meds so could a good idea.

    • It’s a really handy thing to have on you just in case. Especially if you travel a lot throughout the States 🙂

  4. Over the years, I’ve needed to take more and more medication on a daily basis, so I’ve been following these tips for many years. I also take along an emergency medical kit which includes a number of meds for common ailments. Key for me are planning ahead to make sure I have enough, checking in every country to ensure that nothing I’m carrying is illegal in that country (this is something that seems to catch a lot of people out but is not difficult to check!) and that everything is safely stored. Daily meds are ones I cannot miss so on the flight, they go in my hand luggage, then back into the suitcase for daily itinerary.

    • An emergency medical kit is a great tip, thanks for sharing your experiences and knowledge Kavita 🙂 It sounds like you’re all over everything we covered – yes, it really is so important to just run some quick online checks re which medication is and isn’t allowed, but so many people get caught up on that.

      Happy travels!

  5. Useful tips here, Megan, especially since my husband has a cardiovascular condition and I drag him all over the world! The TSA Medical Notification Certificate is great news. We also have to be more careful about dosage schedule and restrictions now that he has several prescription meds and pacemaker fitted to regulate his heart. Thanks.

    • Thanks Carol, I’m glad to hear that you have it all under control re your husbands prescriptions; definitely not something to take lightly re dosage schedules etc when they’re so vital, so important to stay on top of everything.

      Wishing you both safe and happy travels 🙂

  6. This reminds me of a time when the lady before me at the checkpoint was held for hours all because she couldn’t provider her prescription. Or not had the need to travel with medication, but I’ll sure to tick these boxes if I ever find myself in this situation. Thanks for sharing this

    • Oh yikes – yes it definitely happens. Far more often than people think, drugs can be a really tricky one when you’re traveling internationally, it’s not worth taking the risk of not being prepares, especially when they’re vital medication.

      Glad you enjoyed the post Lydia 🙂

  7. These are great helpful tips for patients and also for those traveling with aged parents. Documentation is very important, some countries are too strict in these matters. It is better to be aware of the necessary vaccinations required for some countries.

    • Thanks Indrani – great tip on being up to date on your necessary vaccinations, and on being informed if you’re the primary carer for someone you’re traveling with. Important to step up in those cases and make sure that everything is good before you head off on a trip.

  8. Great post, Meg! I don’t need much other than my supplements when I travel, but when I travel with my father he takes a lot of medication with him. I’m always afraid that we’ll be stopped at the TSA and his medication may be questioned (he takes so many pills!). I think it’s a great idea to take some doctor’s recommendations with you.

    • Thanks Anda! On his next trip, having doctors recommendations, or even the TSA medical notification card would definitely not go astray 🙂 And even if you don’t get pulled up, it might help ease the worry that you will be stopped 🙂

  9. This is a very very useful post. I know of a lot of travelers who have been stopped as they have not checked on the medical restrictions or have forgotten their presciption. The latter being the case. It can get quite bothersome if that happens. It is good that you have addressed all these issues in this post. Cheers

    • Thanks Ami, I’m glad it was helpful for you 🙂 Yes, I’ve seen many people held up at customs without their prescriptions too, and it’s a lot harder to navigate that situation when you’re on the other side and not fluent in the language. Happens more often than not.

  10. I’m always terrified about things like this when heading through security so thank you so much for this post – I also get panicky about travelling to music festivals with medication and always try to carry a doctors letter so I can prove I need it! I didn’t know about the medical notification card so thanks for the tip off!

    • Glad the post was helpful for you Samantha, hopefully these steps can help ease the anxiety of carrying meds with you a little bit. Sounds like you’re all over it though re already carrying doctors notes. Glad we could let you know about the medical notification card 🙂

  11. When we’re traveling with medication, we do need a great pill box/dispenser

    • Glad we could provide some recommendations 🙂

  12. As a pharmacist, I recommend the Android & iOS app called Medisafe. It has many features including reminders to take a dose. These are automatically updated with timezone changes.

    • Thanks for the tip, Medisafe sounds like a great app, especially for travel because keeping up with the timezone changes is definitely something I struggle with!

  13. This is a very very useful post. I don’t need much other than my supplements when I travel, but when I travel with my father he takes a lot of medication with him,We also have to be more careful about dosage schedule and restrictions now that he has several prescription meds and pacemaker fitted to regulate his heart

    • So glad the post was helpful Phil, it’s great to hear that your father is still traveling, it’s obviously still very possible, just needs a bit of extra preparation 🙂

      Happy travels!

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