Carrying prescription meds shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying travelling. After all, medicine is supposed to improve your quality of life, not inhibit it. Before you hit the lonesome trails, take some time to organize your meds and line up the proper documentation. This will help you speed through customs and other check points, and it can help eliminate unnecessary delays or other problems with carrying any type of drugs. Here’s everything you need to know.
1. Keep the Medications in the Original Pharmacy Packaging
The pharmacy dispenses medications in recognizable containers, complete with the name, address, and phone number for both your doctor and the pharmacy. Usually, this official packaging is all the legitimacy you need for domestic flights. If you plan to travel overseas, be sure to check with your airlines, as well as customs agencies at your destination and any airports where you have to stop and change planes.
Sometimes airlines have restrictions on the amount of medication you can carry, especially when it’s in liquid form. You can ask the pharmacy to dispense your medicine into a smaller container for travel purposes to meet airline guidelines. Whenever possible, it’s best to keep medications in your checked bags instead of your carry-on luggage. If you need to bring a small dose on board to take during the flight, make sure it is in a legitimate package complete with the pharmacy and doctor information.
2. Get a Note From Your Doctor on Official Stationery
Controlled substances, such as tranquilizers and narcotics, are often tougher to get through security check points. Get your doctor to make a list of all your prescriptions on his office stationary, complete with his full name and contact information. If the original pharmacy packaging is questioned, this documentation is your back up plan. This is especially important if you are bringing on medications that are controlled substances or are dispensed with a hypodermic needle. Be sure to pack syringes safely so unsuspecting TSA agents aren’t caught off guard by the needles.
This is also helpful for patients who have extensive medications or who need to carry unusually large amounts of medicines. Above a certain amount can be considered enough to distribute, putting you in the awkward position of defending yourself against drug trafficking charges. Check with local authorities at your travel destination if you have concerns.
3. Refill Enough of Your Medications Before Leaving
Count how many doses you have on hand before you leave, and make sure you won’t run out when you’re far away from your home, doctor, or pharmacy. Be sure to include a few extra doses in case there are travel delays. Check with your health insurance company to see if an emergency doctor’s appointment or prescription refill is covered outside of your home state or country, and make alternate plans if these things are not covered.
Online pharmacies can be helpful in these situations, such as www.canadianpharmacymeds.com. Travel insurance can help offset some expenses in case you need emergency medical care while you’re away. Ask your travel agent, because these packages are generally more affordable when purchased together with your other travel needs.
4. Put Your Prescriptions in a Medical Travel Kit
All travelers need a medical supply kit packed and kept handy. The kit should include all your regular medications, along with some you need less frequently. Depending on where your travels take you, you’ll need to pack items such as:
- Pain reliever
- Anti-nausea medicine
- Anti-diarrhea medicine
- Bug spray
- Motion sickness medication
- Allergy medication
- First aid supplies, including anti bacterial ointment and bandages
Before you leave with your medical kit, check to assure that none of the over the counter medications you’re bringing along conflict with your prescription drugs. If you wait until you’re feeling ill on your trip, you could accidentally cause yourself a dangerous drug interaction.
5. Make Plans for Refrigerating or Storing Medications
Drugs that need to be stored in certain temperatures require even more planning. For the travel, you might consider taking a small cooler on board, but you’ll need to make sure that your destination offers easy access to a refrigerator or cooler. Call ahead to the hotel, and don’t forget to make plans for tours and other outings that keep you away from the refrigerator longer than you need to go without your medication.
You may need to carry dry ice or other alternatives for taking your meds on longer excursions. When going through a travel agent, don’t take her word for whether or not there is a refrigerator in your hotel room. Call the hotel yourself and verify it. Also, make alternative plans in case the power goes out or the refrigerator in the hotel room goes out.
6. Bring Medication Information With You
Pack all the information that comes with your prescription refills so that you’ll have it with you on the trip. This information lets you know potential drug or food interactions, whether it’s okay to take the drugs with alcohol, milk, or other liquids, and possible side effects to look for. Don’t depend on the Internet to be available everywhere you go. You need to know what to expect from your medication even when Web searches aren’t available. Plus, these informational packets lend legitimacy to the prescriptions you’re taking with you on airlines and through customs.
Even if you’ve been on the medications for a while and are used to them, take a few minutes to reread the information before your trip. Over time, it’s easy to forget warnings that you aren’t used to dealing with, and your diet and lifestyle on vacation are likely to be much different from your normal patterns at home. For example, it’s easy to forget that the package warns against excessive sun exposure if you live in a cloudy city but are traveling to a beach.
Making plans for transporting and storing your medication ahead of time means you don’t have to worry about such things once you’re on the trip. When you leave, forget you’re even on anything at all and enjoy the trip! Trust your well-formed plans to work like they’re supposed to.
Here’s a list that I’m compiling that contains some obvious and maybe not-so-obvious pre-plans. Pre Conference Travel and Logistics PlanningFeatured photo credit: shieldkitten via photopin cc