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Traveling with prescription medications can get complicated, especially when you are away for extended periods of time. Get answers to all your questions as well as detailed instructions on how to get medication refills when traveling!
Traveling with Prescription Medications
If you take prescription medication, it’s important to bring enough with you for your entire trip. I always bring extra medication in case of a trip delay or to have backup if I lose or drop any pills. I don’t like relying on pharmacies in new places where I’ve never traveled before, because it adds stress to your trip.
While prescription items might take up space in your bag, they are essential. If you’ve wondered how to travel with prescription medications, read our guide below!
- Can you bring prescription medicine on a plane?
- Do you need to have a copy of your prescription?
- What’s the best way to fill a prescription while traveling?
- Do medications have to be in the original container?
- What are the best pill containers?
Remember to always speak to your doctor about any concerns or for the official answers to your particular medication question! Also check the rules and regulations of the country you are visiting as some over-the-counter medication may require a prescription.
Can you bring prescription medicine on a plane?
Yes, you can bring prescriptions on a plane.
If I was limited to just one piece of advice on traveling with medications, it is this: Never put your prescriptions in your checked luggage. When traveling with medication on a plane, always bring it in your carry-on suitcase or personal item. This is true for other forms of travel, too, whether you are on a plane, train, bus, or boat. One reader says, “I always take all meds in my carry-on!”
The TSA rules medication in liquid or gel form doesn’t need to follow the liquid carry-on rule, but you need to inform TSA when you pass through security so it isn’t confiscated.
Do you need to have a copy of your prescription?
One reader shares, “I get a print out of our prescription from the pharmacy when we travel. I keep it and copies of our passports and credit cards in my bra money holder.”
Several readers recommend asking your doctor for a letter that lists your medications, dosage, strength, and why it was prescribed.
Tip: Have this letter translated into the language of your destination country, so it’s easy to read.
When traveling with medication internationally, consider emailing the embassy of the country you plan to visit a list of the medications you take to find out if there are any drug restrictions. As one reader advises: “Be prepared and know what to expect in the country you are traveling to.”
It’s best to always be prepared!
What’s the best way to fill a prescription while traveling?
Even in my long-term travels, I’ve always traveled with enough medication to cover the entire trip. My longest stint without coming home to fill a prescription was my nine-month round-the-world trip. I stuffed as many of the pills as I could in the original bottles.
Contact your health insurance company if you will be on an extended trip, as many have prescription programs in which you can receive a three-month supply for each refill.
A Travel Fashion Girl reader shares these step-by-step instructions on how to refill prescriptions when overseas or traveling long-term:
- Have someone act as your contact at home. He or she will receive your prescriptions for you and then send them to you. It helps to have a joint bank account with this person or a PayPal account.
- Talk to your doctor and let him or her know you will be traveling for an extended period. Your doctor can write you a prescription for all your medications, preferably one that’s renewable for a year. Submit it to your insurance pharmacy or to a pharmacy near your contact person.
- Remember, most prescriptions can only cover one year at a time.
- Ask your doctor to write a letter saying these are necessary prescription medications for your personal use, including the name of your medications, the strength, and dosage. Scan this and keep the file saved in your laptop or tablet, and in your email. Carry a hard copy with your travel documents. It can be useful to have a scanned copy as well as the actual prescriptions. Send a scanned copy to your contact, too.
- If your prescriptions are only available in one-month increments, you can have your contact collect your medications and hold on to them until they have three months’ worth.
- About one month before you need more of your medications, go to your local Federal Express office. Each country has different guidelines for importing personal medications, so be sure to visit your local FedEx office to learn the correct guidelines.
- Let them know you are traveling long-term and you need to get your prescriptions sent to you. Ask them about the local regulations. Find out what you need, put it all together, and send it to your contact person via email.
- If customs agents are picky, you may be required to have your letter from your doctor and the actual prescriptions, along with a letter swearing these are for personal use and a scanned copy of your passport.
- When your home contact has mailed the package to you, make sure he or she emails you to let you know. Your contact should include copies of all the support information you provided. Ask your contact to also scan and email the FedEx form to you.
- Usually, your contact will only be allowed to send a three-month supply, although some countries allow a six-month supply.
- Inform your friends at the local FedEx office that the package is on its way and give them the FedEx tracking number so they can keep an eye out for it. Sometimes delivery at your hotel works better than you picking the package up from the FedEx office. Just be sure to ask about this option at your hotel or AirBnB.
- There’s always the option of refilling prescriptions locally, but sometimes the medication isn’t available, and occasionally the medications have a different name or formulation.
Do medications have to be in the original container?
No, your medication does not have to be in its original packaging, just make sure you put your pills into a clearly marked container or clear plastic bag. See below to find the best containers for your pills for when traveling.
Make sure the name on the prescription, the medicine container (if you keep your pills in their original packaging), and your passport all match. If you have lost the product information insert, ask your pharmacist to print a new one for you.
One of our readers who works as a pharmacist says, “Your pharmacy can print you off extra labels to stick on any containers you are using for travel.”
One reader says she puts her pills in “small, clear baggies that I get at CVS, and then label the bag with the day and time I need to take it. I also keep a photo of the prescription and bottle labels on my phone.”
Another reader recommends visiting the TSA website to learn the most up-to-date TSA medication rules and regulations when flying with medication.
Tip: If you use original containers, remove the cotton so you have more space. This works well for longer trips, and you can fit in almost double the amount.
What are the best pill containers?
You’re all set with your prescriptions. Now, how should you carry them? See what we recommend as the best travel pill containers to store your prescriptions.
Large Pill Organizer
This Large Pill Organizer allows you to easily organize your medications for seven days. The small compact container easily can fit in your personal item and is perfect for travel when you are on the go.
One reader says this pill organizer container is “fabulous. It’s a great design for travel or to use to organize medicine at home.”
AM/PM Pill Case
The Lewis N. Clark AM/PM Folding Pill Organizer allows you to manage your pills for multiple scenarios by rearranging the removable pouches into the different numbered and color-coded pockets.
Readers say these are great. They “take up little room. You can order enough pouches and refills depending on your needs.” Another says, “I love that we can take the little pouch out and carry it easily to breakfast without taking the whole case. They work really well for us!”
The Pill Bag
These containers called The Pill Bag are a great way to carry pills with a resealable zipper, providing a convenient way to carry tablets. Our readers particularly love these pill bags, because as one reader says, “I’ve re-used them over and over again, and I love how they take up less space!”
One reader shares how she “uses a Sharpie to label each bag.” Another reader adds that she has “one for a.m. meds, one for p.m. meds, and one for as-needed meds,” and that she “cuts off the front of the prescription box and places it inside (including dosage directions).”
Ezy Dose AM/PM Push Button Pill Planner
Another option, the Ezy Dose pill planner is perfect for organizing your pills with different compartments for medications taken twice a day. You easily can separate the pills you take in the morning and evening.
One reader says traveling with a pill planner container is “very convenient,” while another adds that “it takes up less space (than original containers) and keeps them all sorted.”
Here’s a quick summary of the best pill containers:
|BRAND / MODEL||READER'S SAY||RATING||PRICE|
|Medication Reminder Pill Box||“Fabulous. It’s a great design for travel or to use to organize medicine at home.”||Check Price|
|Lewis N. Clark AM/PM Folding Pill Organizer||“I love that we can take the little pouch out and carry it easily to breakfast without taking the whole case. They work really well for us!”||Check Price|
|The Pill Bag 100 Count Resealable Zipper Poly Bags||“I’ve re-used them over and over again, and I love how they take up less space!”||Check Price|
|Ezy Dose AM/PM Push Button Pill Planner||“It takes up less space (than original containers) and keeps them all sorted.”||Check Price|
Do you have any advice for traveling abroad with prescription medications? Share in the comments below!
For more travel tips, please read:
- How to Fill a Prescription While Traveling
- 10 Best Travel Toiletry Bags
- The Ultimate Guide to Travel Toiletries
- What to Pack in a Travel First Aid Kit
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