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Traveling Safely with Medicines

Planes, trains, cars – even boats and bikes.  For many Americans, summer means vacation, and vacation means taking a trip. To be sure that you can stay healthy on your trip, ask your pharmacist about how to travel safely with your medicines.

Make sure that you always carry a list of all the medicines you take in your purse or wallet. The list should also have the phone numbers of your doctor and pharmacist.

  • This information is helpful, because if you lose your medicines, you may need a new prescription.
  • A medication list is also helpful to have in case you have to go to the emergency room.

Take enough medication for your trip 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,

  • Before you go through security, show your medicines to a security guard.
    • Remember that some states require you to keep your medicines in their labeled medicine container, not in a pill box.
    • Your medicine 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.
    • Liquid medicines in containers that are larger than 3.4 ounces will be double checked.
    • 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.
  • 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 medicines.

You can find more information at the TSA web site.

If you’ll be changing time zones, talk to your doctor or 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.

If you are going somewhere with hot and sticky weather, be sure to keep your medicines in a cool, dry place. It’s important not to keep your medicines in the sun.

  • Never keep your medicines in any part of your car, including the glove box or trunk.
  • Don’t keep your medicine in the bathroom.
  • 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.

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.
  • Ask your pharmacist if your medicine makes your skin more likely to burn.
  • Ask your pharmacist what kind of sunscreen is best for your skin. Also ask how much sunscreen you should put on and when you should put on more.

If you are traveling outside of the United States, don’t buy over-the-counter medicines or medicines without a prescription.

  • A lot of medicine that you need a prescription for in the United States does not require a prescription in other countries.
  • Some of these medicines could have different ingredients, and may not be of the same quality as our medicine in the U.S.
  • If you take these medicines, you might be more likely to have an allergic reaction or some other problem.

People who travel often, especially on long flights or car/bus rides are more likely to have a blood clot form in a vein—a DVT (deep vein thrombosis).

  • To prevent a DVT,
    • Get up and walk around once per hour during your flight.
    • Flex your feet or squeeze your toes for 15 seconds every hour
    • Bend and straighten your legs, feet and toes while seated every half hour
    • Press the balls of your feet down against the floor or foot rest to increase blood flow in your legs
    • Wear compression stockings or flight socks
    • To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water and do not drink too much alcohol
    • Try to avoid taking sleeping tablets, which can prevent you from moving around while on traveling on long flights