Traveling Safely with Medicines

Published: February 25, 2021

Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, it is important to take your medications on your trip. The following information will help ensure that your medications will travel safely with you.

Take a list of your medications

  • If you lose your medications, you may need to replace your medications.
  • A medication list is also helpful to have in case you have to go to the emergency room.
  • The list should also have the phone numbers of your doctor and pharmacist.

Take enough medication

  • Be sure to take enough medication to cover the duration of your trip, plus an extra day or two in case your trip is extended, or there are delays.
  • Take along a few over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat common problems like pain, fever, or diarrhea.
  • Consider packing 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:

  • Keep your medications in your carry-on bag.
    • You can access your medicine during your flight.
    • If your checked bags get lost, you still have your medications.
    • The bag storage area of the plane can get very hot or very cold, which can impact the effectiveness of your medications.
  • Tell the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent that you have liquid medications or other sensitive medications before going through airport security.
    • Your medications and supplies like IV bags, pumps, and syringes will be checked by an X-ray machine. You can ask for an inspection by a person and not a machine.
    • Freezer packs that help keep medicine cool must be completely frozen at the checkpoint. If they are not frozen, they will have to be checked by an X-ray machine.
    • The TSA will allow liquid medications over the limit of 3.4 ounces, but you must tell a TSA agent at the beginning of the security check.
    • Some states require you to keep your medicines in their labeled medicine container, not in a pill box.
  • For more information about airport security rules, visit

Changing time zones

  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to work out a travel action plan for when you should take your medication to make sure you don’t take too much or not enough.
  • 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.

Check the temperature

  • Always keep your medications in a cool, dry place.
  • Never keep your medications in any part of your car, including the glove box or trunk.
  • Don’t keep your medications on top of warm electronics like a television.
  • Don’t keep your medications on the windowsill or in direct sunlight.

Sun sensitivity

  • Some medications may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so you are more likely to get a sunburn.
  • Ask your pharmacist if your medication makes your skin more likely to burn.
  • Ask your pharmacist what kind of sunscreen is best for your skin, how much sunscreen you should put on, and how often you should reapply.
Don’t buy your prescription medications outside the U.S.
  • A lot of medications that you need a prescription for in the U.S. do not require a prescription in other countries.
  • Some of these medications could have different ingredients, and may not be of the same quality as our medicine in the U.S.
  • If you take these medications, you might be more likely to have an allergic reaction or some other problem.

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