Tips for traveling with medications
Preparing for travel can be tough under any circumstances. But when you add new variables into the mix — such as traveling with medications — understanding the rules can be even more complicated.
Today we have engaged a guest blogger (who asked to remain anonymous) to help navigate through some of those rules, as well as providing tried-and-true tips based on her experiences in traveling with medication.
Greetings fellow travelers!
While I may not be a card-carrying road warrior, I have spent my fair share of time on the road (and in the air), both for work and for fun. So I have always considered myself to be a pretty knowledgeable and efficient traveler. But when I was diagnosed with MS a few years back, with a treatment plan that includes daily injections of medication, I knew my travel preparations were about to get a little more complicated.
So I have compiled a few tips — based on security regulations and personal experiences — to help travelers who may be new to traveling with meds navigate through the process.
- Carry only what you need. If you’re traveling for five days, and you take a daily injection, only bring five along. That way you won’t have to worry about traveling with meds on your way home.
- Bring documentation. The TSA recommends traveling with a copy of your prescription. When my doctor wrote out my first prescription, he included a printed “Doctor’s Note” indicating who I was, what meds I was on, and why. I keep that note folded neatly in the travel bag I have for my meds at all times. Which leads me to …
- Get a travel container for your meds. A well-designed bag or container can make traveling with your meds much easier. If you call the manufacturer of your medication, they will often offer a travel bag at no cost to you. However, there are also several options available for purchase. Look for something that can carry all of the pieces you need—the medications themselves, a compartment to hold an ice pack to keep meds cool, and an area for any injection devices, alcohol wipes, etc. These containers typically come in a form that is designed to protect meds, so glass won’t shatter if your bag gets jostled around.
- Know that you might have to remove your medications from the travel case. While it can be embarrassing and unsettling to have to pull out a packet of shots in front of a co-worker you’re traveling with, that scenario could easily happen. The TSA may have questions or ask to see that doctor’s note or prescription at any time. Just remember — their goal is to keep you safe, not to put you on the spot in front of your peers, so be prepared and take it all in stride.
- Need an ice pack? Keep it cool. Avoid any issues at security lines by arriving with ice packs frozen. According to the TSA, frozen items are permitted as long as they are solid and in a “frozen state” when presented for screening.
- Pack meds in an easily accessible area in a purse or briefcase. While you may feel safe packing your medications in a carry-on suitcase, keep in mind that some smaller flights have limited overhead space, and may require you to check a carry-on bag at the gate. I learned this the hard way when my meds froze in the cargo area on my way out of town. Keep them with you in the cabin whenever possible.
- Call ahead for refrigeration. While many hotel rooms are equipped with mini-refrigerators, some are not. If you have medications that need to be refrigerated (or if you need to freeze an ice pack before a return flight), call the hotel ahead of time to make arrangements. Don’t find yourself in a position like I did when I first traveled with meds — standing at the front desk, negotiating with the staff to find a way to keep my medications refrigerated in their bar or restaurant because they do not offer in-room refrigerators. That situation won’t always work out.
Following are a few great resources for general information about traveling with medications of all kinds (not just the injectable kinds I referred to throughout this post):
No matter how prepared you are, it’s pretty likely you’ll learn your own lessons the first few times you travel with medications. Just remember to take it in stride and keep those lessons in your pocket for next time.