Packing medications for travel

Travel Pill Boxes

When my prescription (for me it’s allergy medications) runs low, I make sure I get my refill. Beyond that, I don’t give medication much thought. However, when traveling with medication you should think about your medication, just in case you find yourself in an emergency situation.

Please note, this is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list. If you take prescription medications and have concerns (especially when traveling internationally), ask your doctor for special instructions.

How to carry medication during travel

You see them in stores — and might even use them at home — travel dispensers for your medication. Just fill the box with what you need for the day and then you don’t have to think about it.
My parents visited us for Christmas a couple years ago. Christmas day, a heavy ice storm came through and they were stuck at my house a few extra days. They brought their pill bottles with them and had enough to get through. If not, they would have had to call their doctor and get emergency supplies from a pharmacy in our area.
Another time, my dad got seriously ill while on vacation, necessitating surgery and a six day hospital stay. During the crisis, the EMTs asked my mom about his medications. Rather than rely on her memory, she handed his prescriptions and vitamins to them. They took those bottles to the hospital and gave them to the ER physicians. 
In both situations, my parents were prepared for travel. If you choose to use the travel dispensers, take extra medicine with you in case you are stranded longer than expected. Also, carry a list of your medications, including dosages and when you take them, so that if the unexpected emergency does arise, you are prepared.
When traveling by air or internationally, it’s best to carry your medications in their original bottles for easy identification with the TSA or in case of a medical emergency. Not all medications are readily available in other countries or look the same.

Remember to pack your “what if” medications

My allergies are fairly significant and I take medication every day to keep them in check. Additionally, I have food allergies, and while I’m careful, sometimes things go wrong.
On a conference trip to Hawaii, my husband and I went to a buffet dinner. None of the foods was marked, so we asked the hostess if anything contained seafood. She disappeared for several minutes and returned to assure us that there was no seafood on the buffet. I got a plate and loaded up. We sat down and the very first thing I bit into was filled with shrimp! Undignified, I spit the food all over the table and ran to the bathroom to rinse my mouth. My husband followed behind with benadryl (I always carry it) and an epi-pen. My tongue and lips swelled but, overall, the reaction wasn’t too bad. Needless to say, they refunded that night’s stay!
On another trip to China, we packed all the medications we could think to carry. Full prescriptions in case something went wrong with travel. Pain medicine, like ibuprofen and tylenol. Stomach medicine in case the food didn’t agree with us. We even remembered to take Vicks vaporub in case one of the kids got the sniffles. Somehow, we forgot an inhaler. Honestly, I hadn’t used on in several years, though I used to rely on them regularly. The smog in Beijing was horrific and I coughed. And coughed. And coughed. Though I hadn’t needed an inhaler for years, I should have requested one from my doctor for that trip. 

Carrying refrigerated medications

When traveling with refrigerated prescriptions such as liquid anti-biotics, ask the hotel if they will provide a complimentary refrigerator. Most hotels honor this request, as they don’t want to lose your business because little Bobby is getting over an ear infection. Many hotels will also provide refrigerators free of charge for families with food allergies and restricted diets.

Medication checklist for travel

___  Prescription medications, enough for the whole trip plus at least three days. (If traveling when
        weather might be bad or internationally, consider taking an additional seven days worth)
___  If not carrying medication in original packaging, include a list of all medications with dosage and
        condition being treated.
___  Ibuprofen or tylenol for fever or pain.
___  Stomach medicine such as pepto bismol
___  Vitamins
___  Medical insurance card
___  Personal physician’s name and contact information
___  Medications specific to the area where you will be traveling
___  A list of allergies: food, environmental and medication (I translate my food allergy list into the
        native language where I am traveling and hand the card to the server in restaurants. It helps
I hope these tips for packing medication for travel save you a lot of hassle should that emergency situation arise. Of course, I prefer you never find yourself in an emergency situation! 🙂

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