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Traveling With Prescriptions: A Guide

Do you have a travel plan for your pills? Planning and executing a trip to a foreign country is enough of a hassle on its own even before accounting for your health needs. What medications will you need to bring? How should you pack them so that they’re allowed to be taken with you on your flight? How will you tackle health problems if any arise while you’re abroad? These are just a few of the many factors one has to consider when planning a trip abroad.


At Safe Rx, our primary concern is keeping you and your medication safe. That’s why we created our Locking Pill Bottles to help keep your medicine secure, no matter where you are. Check out some of our tips for travelling safely with medicine and planning for your health while abroad, and you’ll be trotting the globe without trouble in no time.

Before Packing

There are several steps you should take when planning your trip, before you even get around to packing, to prepare for medical situations you could face while travelling abroad. This area of preparation is primarily focused on research — learning everything you can about where you’re going and what you could need so you can be sure to pack and plan for any type of medical situation that could arise.


To start, you should have a conversation with your doctor about your healthcare needs at the place or places you’ll be visiting on your travels. Discuss things like medications and vaccinations, and ask if the region you’re visiting has foreign diseases you need to be immunized against. Your doctor will be able to help you plan how much of your regular medications to pack and tell you if you’ll require vaccinations or any extra medications while traveling abroad.


You’ll also want to do some research of your own on the place or places you’re visiting. What’s the environment and weather like in the region you’re traveling to? Does the region have extreme weather that could exacerbate one of your medical issues, or heightened levels of pollen, dander, or other triggers that could worsen your allergies? Your doctor should also be able to provide guidance in this area, but it’s always good to get an idea of risks for oneself, in case you have concerns that haven’t been diagnosed and you think might be remedied with over-the-counter solutions.


You should also check the healthcare standards for the region you’re traveling to. How many healthcare facilities are nearby where you’re traveling, and what is the quality and range of services they offer? This will help you determine if you should pack any extra kinds of medicine or first aid material. Most places in northern Europe will have similar healthcare standards to the U.S., but other regions could vary in terms of the prevalence of medical facilities and the extent of services offered.


There’s a few more legal things you should read up on before packing. Specifically, you should contact the U.S. embassy closest to where you’ll be visiting and ask if any of your medications are prohibited in the area you’re planning to visit. Medicine and drug laws vary from country to country, and you’ll need to make a contingency plan with your doctor in advance if your destination doesn’t allow one of your medications. You’ll also want to get the generic names of the medicines you take, as medication names also vary greatly from country to country. Most doctors will be able to understand if you provide them the generic names of the drugs you need to stay medicated and healthy. You might also consider having your doctor make a list of your medical conditions, symptoms, and their recommendations to assist doctors, should you need them while traveling abroad.


After you’ve had a chat with your doctor, done your research, and gotten any additional vaccinations or prescriptions that may be necessary, it’s time to start packing. Make your pack list a few days in advance to give yourself extra time, should a prescription be delayed or you forget something. This area of preparation is focused on gathering enough supplies so as to be prepared for any medical situation that could arise. Traveling abroad is thrilling and exhilarating, but suffering a medical issue abroad can be terrifying if you’re not prepared. Here’s what you should bring:


Your Prescriptions: You’ll obviously want to bring your regular prescription medicine, but also any special prescriptions your doctor may have ordered for your trip. If there’s a chance you could have a strong allergic reaction to something, you’ll want to pack epinephrine and an epinephrine auto-injector, like an EpiPen. If you have other medical necessities like glasses, bring extras if you can.


Basic Medicines: You’ll also want to pack a small supply of basic, over-the-counter medicines, just in case you experience minor discomfort abroad. When we say basic medicine, we’re talking about things like Ibuprofen, cough drops, laxatives, nasal decongestant, anti-diarrheals, those sorts of things. It’s much easier to bring the basic remedies you know instead of sifting through foreign drug names at a pharmacy abroad.


Documents: In addition to the identification you should be bringing, like your passport and ID, you should also bring your health insurance card and a couple of claim forms, should you have a medical issue abroad that requires a facility visit. Please note that as far as insurance goes, Medicare does not cover treatment you receive abroad. If the country you’re visiting considers one of more of your medications controlled substances, be sure to pack a letter from your doctor certifying your legitimate medical need for their use. This particular phenomenon isn’t very common for most medicines, but can come up if you’re taking a steroid-based medication.


When packing your medicine, keep a few guidelines in mind.


First, pack a little more medicine than you’ll need over the course of your trip, just in case there is a delay during your trip and you end up needing to spend more time abroad.


Second, you should pack your medicines in your carry-on bag on the plane. This way, you’ll have your medicine available if you need to take it during your flight, and you won’t be in a difficult situation if your luggage is lost. Keep your medications in their original containers, if possible — it makes your bag check much quicker.

At the Airport

You shouldn’t have too much to worry about at the airport if you’ve planned and packed your medications for your trip adequately. The TSA allows pills and solid medicines in unlimited amounts, as long as they are screened. The TSA also allows liquid medicines in carry-on bags in excess of 3.4 ounces in “reasonable quantities” for the flight. You don’t need to store liquid medicines in a clear bag, but you should tell a TSA agent at the start of the screening process about your liquid medicines, as they’ll have to subject them to more thorough scrutiny.


However, as we warned in previous sections, please keep in mind that while the TSA allows transportation of most medicines on flights, the laws in the country or state you’re traveling to could differ. If you’ve done your research prior to your trip, this shouldn’t be an issue. If you haven’t, you could set yourself up for a challenging arrival at your destination. Do your legal research ahead of time so you can have peace of mind while traveling.


Finally, while traveling abroad and enjoying your adventure, keep your medical needs in mind. Adjust your prescription-taking schedule as you cross into new time zones, and contact the nearest U.S. embassy if you run out of medicine or your prescriptions are lost or stolen.


If you’re concerned that your medicine could be stolen, purchase a Locking Pill Bottle from Safe Rx! Our locking medicine bottles ensure that you’re the only one with access to your prescriptions, so you can enjoy peace of mind and a healthy body no matter where you are. Check out our offerings today and get your medicine supply the extra security it needs.