How To Get Medication Refills Before Traveling

Published: February 03, 2023
Sabrine Yamauchi
By Sabrine Yamauchi, 2023 PharmD Candidate

Your trip is one week away, and you’re preparing to pack your bags when you realize you don’t have enough medication to last through the two weeks you’ll be away. How can you refill your medication before your trip?

How to obtain refills for medication before traveling:

The most common way to refill your medication for traveling is to use a vacation override. Vacation overrides are done by asking your pharmacy to contact your insurance company. Then the insurance company can provide an override that will allow your medication to be filled earlier than anticipated.

However, vacation overrides depend on your insurance plan (so it can vary from plan to plan). Most plans will cover a vacation refill at least one time per prescription. If your plan does not, the other option is to pay out of pocket for your prescription. I recommend only paying for as much as you need to get you through your trip and ask your pharmacy about discounts through the pharmacy or sites like GoodRx.

One way to limit the chance of needing a vacation refill is to receive your medications in a 3-month supply. Many insurances offer 3-month supplies for maintenance medications. It can lower the number of times you visit the pharmacy and make sure you have your medication when needed.

What if I forgot my medication at home and need to refill it while on vacation?

This should be a straightforward process if you’re traveling within the U.S. You can go to the nearest pharmacy and ask the pharmacy to transfer your prescription to have it filled there. You may encounter a similar issue to refilling your medication early; therefore, the pharmacy may need to contact your insurance for a vacation override.

If you travel often and this happens to you, my recommendation is to use large retail pharmacies because the process of transferring a prescription is generally much easier (e.g., Walgreens in California to Walgreens in New York). Larger retail pharmacies are also available in more places and have extended hours compared to an independent pharmacy.

Tips before going to the pharmacy to get vacation refills:

  • Count how many tablets you have currently and make sure you will need a refill while away on vacation. Some insurance can limit the number of times you can use a vacation override; if you don’t need one, it may be better to save your vacation override for another time.
  • Call your insurance company to know your plan's policy on vacation refills. Every insurance plan is different, so the more you know, the better prepared you can be for your options.
  • Give your pharmacy at least a one-week notice. If you have many medications sometimes it may take time to get everything ready for pickup. Some medications could be out-of-stock and may take a day or two to receive at the pharmacy.
  • When going to the pharmacy, be prepared to give information such as the dates you are going on vacation, and where you are going. Some insurances may ask for these details to do an override.


Obtaining medication while traveling is not fun and not how you want to spend your time; the best thing to do is be prepared and proactive about your medication refills.

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