Tips for travelling with medications

PLEASE NOTE:

The information provided below is not intended to replace a consultation with your pharmacist or physician. If you have questions about your medication(s) or are experiencing a health concern, please talk to your pharmacist.

To be sure that you can stay healthy on your trip, ask your pharmacist about how to travel safely with your medication(s).

Before you travel

Ask your pharmacist how to adjust your medicine schedule to account for changes in time, routine, and diet.

Bring the phone numbers of your doctors and pharmacists with you.

Store your medication in the original labelled container and carry a copy of the prescription to avoid problems at the border as well as to facilitate drug identification in case of emergency

Carry a list of all the medicines you take in your purse or wallet

This information is helpful, because if you lose your medicines, you may need a new prescription. The list should also have the phone numbers of your doctor and pharmacist.
A medication list is also helpful to have in case you have to go to the emergency room.

Take enough medication in case you need to stay longer

Also take along a few over-the-counter medications to treat pain, fever, or diarrhea. You also may want to have an antihistamine for allergies or allergic reactions. This way you won’t have to find a pharmacy or store late at night or in an unfamiliar location.

If you are flying

  • Carry your medicines with you; do not pack them in your checked luggage. Consider placing silica packs in medication vials if extended travel is planned in hot/humid environments
  • To help with security at the airport, keep medicine in the original bottles.
  • If you have diabetes, ask your doctor for a letter explaining that you have diabetes and providing a list of all your supplies. You are allowed to carry your medicine, blood glucose meter, and lancet device on a plane.
  • Common medications with special storage requirements include insulin and liquid antibiotics.
    • Insulin is stable at room temperature for 28-30 days, and insulin that will not be used within that time period or any medication that requires refrigeration must be kept cool for the duration of travel. This can be accomplished using a cooler or a chilled thermos, which should then be refrigerated once the destination is reached.
    • Children’s liquid antibiotics may vary in their recommended storage conditions. Some liquids must be refrigerated (e.g. cephalexin), some should be stored at room temperature (e.g. azithromycin), while others may have different expiry dates depending on which option is chosen (e.g. amoxicillin). Check with your pharmacist about your child’s specific antibiotic.
  • Your medicine and supplies like IV bags, pumps, and syringes may be checked by an x-ray machine. You can ask for an inspection by a person and not a machine.

Keep your medicine in your carry-on bag.

That’s because:

  • You can get to your medicine during your flight,
  • If your checked bags get lost, you still have your medicine, and
  • The bag storage area of the plane can get very hot or very cold—this is not a good place for your medication(s).

Changing time zones

If you’ll be changing time zones, talk to your pharmacist to work out a travel action plan for when you should take your medicine. This will keep you from taking too much or not enough medicine.
Even if you are not changing time zones, be sure to stick to your regular times for taking medicine as your daily schedule may be different than when you are at home.

Where to store your medication

  • Try to keep your medicines in a cool, dry place.
  • Don’t keep your medicine on top of warm electronics like a television.
  • Don’t keep your medicine on the windowsill or in direct sunlight, especially in the car.

Some medicines make your skin more sensitive to the sun

Even if you don’t usually sunburn, some medicines may make your skin more likely to burn. Be sure to ask your pharmacist if any of your medications makes your skin more likely to burn.

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