Traveling with Medication: What to Keep in Mind - Step To Health
 

Traveling with Medication: What to Keep in Mind

If you're planning to travel with medicines soon, we invite you to read this article to learn about the situations you should consider before and during travel.
Traveling with Medication: What to Keep in Mind

Last update: 02 December, 2021

For some people, traveling abroad with medication may be necessary due to a health condition or their state of health. In some cases, it may be prescription drugs they need. However, in other cases, it’s more of a precaution.

Either way, when traveling with medication, there are several considerations to take into account. Some countries have restrictions and prohibitions regarding the entry and possession of drugs.

On the other hand, it’s also important to know that there are limitations on the amount we can carry and that some medicines must be kept at low temperatures. So if you’re planning a trip in the near future and need to include prescribed substances in your suitcase, here’s what you need to know.

Why travel with medication?

There are several reasons why a person needs to travel with medication.

Firstly, patients with chronic illnesses need to maintain continuity in their treatment.

Secondly, an airplane flight often means a change in the usual living conditions, which can manifest various symptoms. This is the case, for example, with those who suffer or have suffered from ear damage to do air pressure.

Furthermore, according to scientific studies, trips with exposure to altitude often affect patients with respiratory diseases. Although there are no contraindications to flying for people living with bronchial asthma, for instance, they should keep their inhalers handy.

Thirdly, there is a need to take precautionary measures, even in healthy people. That is why we include a basic first aid kit in the luggage to deal with symptoms and travelers’ diseases, such as colds, diarrhea, or headaches.

As part of this precaution taking, people who require continuous treatment should also foresee other situations:

  • That the place we are going to visit may be remote
  • The same doses or formulations as in our country of origin may not be marketed
  • A medical prescription may be required from the country to access our medications
Maletas para un viaje.
Packing for travel far away involves considering some contingencies. Among them, having basic medications is important.

Restrictions when traveling with medication

Whether injectable, pills, syrups, gels, or sprays, most medications can be carried in your carry-on bag. You will need to show your medication at border security checkpoints.

However, there may be more severe restrictions on traveling with medication in some countries and even on some airlines. While it’s usually sufficient to present a medical report and prescription to justify the presence of such drugs, in certain territories, there are prohibited substances.

India, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Japan, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Greece are among the countries with the most restrictions on traveling with medication. In the United States, only drugs that can be legally purchased there are allowed.

Here are some of the substances that are restricted around the world:

  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Guaifenesin
  • Acetaminophen
  • Aspirin

In some territories, failure to observe these regulations concerning medicines can mean detention, a fine, or a ban on entry. And in this case, the principle that ignorance of the law does not exempt from compliance applies.

We think you’ll like to read: 6 Keys to Close Cycles and Move Forward in Life

Tips for traveling with medication

If you need to travel with medicine, you should start organizing yourself long before you board the plane or pack your suitcase. Let’s take a look at some tips.

Go to your doctor

The first thing you should do is visit your doctor. In addition to writing a report and prescriptions, they will tell you if you need to adjust your dosage because of your trip or if you require additional medication.

Research brands and active ingredients

It’s important to know the components, active ingredients, or generic names of the medicines you’re taking. In the territories you visit, they may be sold under different names.

You should also be clear about how many milligrams they are. This way, if you need to buy them during your trip, you won’t get confused.

Research the regulations

It would be best if you did your own research on the drug regulations of the places you are going to. As we’ve already mentioned, in some countries, there are specific restrictions.

The websites of the companies themselves have a section on the subject and information on the requirements for you to take your medication with you. You can also ask at the consulates and embassies of the countries.

Get a prescription and medical report

A prescription and a medical report will help you to demonstrate why you should travel with medication. It will also help you get more doses of your treatment in case you need it.

Remember that the report must be signed and stamped by your doctor. It should include information regarding your health history and the names of the medications, both generic and commercial. If possible, it should be written or presented in English.

Carry your medicine in your and luggage

When traveling, medicines should always be carried in hand luggage, even if this may inconvenience the person. Carrying them in this way makes it easier to check them at exit and entry points.

It also reduces the chances of damage or loss, as checked baggage is susceptible to knocks and is subject to temperature variations. Also, carrying your medication in your carry-on bag makes it easier if you need to use it in an emergency.

How to pack your medications

To carry your medications in your carry-on bag, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Keep medicines in their original containers. Do not use pillboxes.
  • Put liquids in an extra bag or airtight packaging, so they don’t spill.

Which medicines should you include?

It’sbest to carry the medicines you are taking in your carry-on bag, according to the treatment you are following. However, if you wish, you can prepare a travel kit. This will be useful both in the transfer and upon arrival.

In particular, it’s advisable for people with diabetes and those at risk of severe allergic reactions to have a self-injectable insulin pen or epinephrine device on hand.

Autoinyector de insulina.
Self-injectors should always be carried on hand if you’re a person who uses them, such as a diabetic patient.

How much should I take?

Add up how many days are involved for the trip there, stay, and return. You should have enough medication for all that time and even more for unforeseen events.

Cold chain medications

For some medications, exposure to high temperatures does not matter. However, others can deteriorate and compromise a person’s health if not kept in the right conditions.

Drugs that require it should be transported in an insulated container.

Medical supplies and equipment

Finally, suppose the person needs to travel with medicines and syringes, inhalers, oxygen meters, blood glucose meters, CPAP equipment, and even nebulizers. In that case, it’s recommended to contact the airline beforehand to find out the protocols to follow concerning equipment and supplies.

Traveling with medication is possible

Having an illness or being under medical treatment does not mean that we can’t lead a relatively normal life and should forget about taking a well-deserved vacation. On the contrary, if we know what to do when traveling with medication, we can enjoy ourselves without risking our health.

However, traveling with medication is not something to be taken lightly. All the precautions we can take in this regard will never be excessive.

We must think that medicines are allies and travel companions. We must take care of them and keep them well so that we can enjoy the trip.

It might interest you...
6 Tips for Washing Your Hair After Going to the Beach
Step To Health
Read it in Step To Health
6 Tips for Washing Your Hair After Going to the Beach

Washing your hair after going to the beach is essential to avoid problems of dryness and weakening. Here are a few tips.



  • Aguerre V. Viaje en avión, riesgos y previsiones a considerar en los niños. Arch Argent Pediatr. 2012; 110(1): 66-69.
  • Ampudia-Blasco F, Rosenstock J. Estrategias de insulinización en la diabetes mellitus tipo 2. Av Diabetol. 2008; 24(1): 7-20.
  • Fiore C, Córsico W. Viajes aéreos y patología pulmonar con riesgo de hipoxemia. Rev. Asoc. Med. Bahía Blanca; 2009; 19(2): 64-67.
  • Molina M, Hernández L, Duran J,  et al. Protocolo para evaluar una CPAP automática. Valoración de la utilidad del Autoset-T para determinar la presión de Cpap óptima en el síndrome de apnea-hipopnea del sueño. Archivos de Bronconeumología. 2003; 39(3): 118-125.
  • Ricote-Lobera I, Ortiz-Martín B, Fraile-Gil S, et al. Estabilidad de los medicamentos termolábiles ante una interrupción accidental de la cadena de frío. Farm Hosp.  2014;  38(3): 169-192.
  • Ríos Tejada F. Contraindicaciones y recomendaciones médicas para los viajes en avión. FMC – Formación Médica Continuada en Atención Primaria. 2008; 15(8): 489-498.
  • Steffen R, Amitirigala I, Mutsch M. Health risk among travelers-Need for regular updates. J Travel Med. 2008; 15 (3): 145-6.