9 Essential Tips to Traveling Successfully with Medications

four brown prescription bottles with labels

You’re all packed except for your meds which you took this morning.  Just grab them up and toss them in before you zip up your bags, right?  No way! There are too many risks from inconvenience to health risk to arrest. Follow these tips for a happier and healthier vacation.


Carry-On Only

When flying, all necessary medications should be packed in your carry-on bag.  Luggage can get lost. Luggage DOES get lost. One of our client­­s packed his prescriptions in his check-in bag which got lost by the airline. Thankfully he flew into his cruise embarkation port two days early. He spent most of a day calling his home CVS Pharmacy, doctor and health insurance company to get approval for a new set of meds to be filled at a local CVS and hire a taxi to pick them up.


TSA and Medications

Carry-on medications do not have to be in your 3-1-1 bag.  Liquid medications exceeding 3.4 ounces must be presented to a TSA agent for possible additional screening.  You can check for any special instructions regarding syringes and other items on TSA’s site.


Over-the-Counter Drugs

For your convenience, comfort and wallet, bring along any OTC meds you may need.


Organize in a Bag

You may find that organizing your prescription and over-the-counter meds in a ziplock bag to be very helpful.


Daily pill reminder container with morning and evening compartments

Original Bottles

When traveling outside of the United States, always carry meds in their original, labeled containers.  If you use a “daily pill organizer,” take an empty one and set up your pills at your destination.


One Extra Week

In case of any delay, always pack an extra week of medications.


List of Prescriptions Along with Alternative Names

Get a copy of both the brand and generic (or chemical if no generic exists) name of your prescriptions from your pharmacy when traveling internationally in case you need to get an emergency prescription filled. Your destination may be unfamiliar with the name of what you are using.


Medical Marijuana

Under no circumstances can you legally travel by airline or cruise ship with medical marijuana.


Green, white, red and black first aid kit; syringe, pills and tape and a playful plastic frog in front of the kit

Our Legal May Be Another Country’s Illegal

According to a USA Today article, the U.S. Department of State reports that drug charges account for more than one third of American arrests abroad.  This includes prescriptions and over-the-counter meds which are legal in the United States.  When traveling outside of your own country, it is your responsibility to ensure that the drugs you are traveling with are legal.

Some countries restrict the number of days’ supply of some prescription and OTC medications you can have and/or require a letter on your physician’s letterhead stating your diagnosis and list of medications. If you use brand names, have your doctor also include generic or chemical names.  However, even with those precautions, it still may be that they will disallow you from being legally able to bring in a medication.  Medications can be confiscated and you can be imprisoned. Restrictions can include allergy and sinus medications, inhalers, pain medications and even vitamins. This also includes brief stops when changing planes in a country and what you may bring off your cruise ship when visiting a port.  When traveling to another country, you are under their laws.  It’s your responsibility to know their restrictions.

Travel wisely with your meds and have a great trip!

Happy traveling!

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