Through a collaboration with CreakyJoints, Walgreens, and AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, we’ve developed this column to address patients’ common questions about medication with an expert pharmacist trained in chronic inflammatory disease. The information provided in this column is for informational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of consultation with your physician. If you have concerns about your health or treatment, please contact your physician, pharmacist, or other medical professional.
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When you have a vacation or work trip planned, your mind is filled with a To-Do list to ensure that you don’t have a stressful trip. You may be thinking about what you need to pack, who will feed your cat, or who will get your mail while you are away. If you are taking a prescribed medication, then chances are you also have many questions about how you can safely bring your medication(s) with you.
There are things you can do and ways to educate yourself to make sure you have a smooth traveling experience when medication is an essential part of your packing list. Here is what you need to know about traveling with your medications.
What Medications Should I Bring?
Collect all of the medications you take on a regular basis, including any injectable medications. Make sure that you bring enough medication to cover the duration of the trip. To be on the safe side, consider adding in an extra day or two’s worth in case there are any delays when returning home.
Don’t forget to pack any supplies you may need for administering your medication, such as alcohol swabs or needles.
Some medications are not meant to be taken every day. If this is the case, look at your dosing schedule and decide if any upcoming doses will be due during your trip.
Keeping Your Medication Safe
It’s best to keep your medications in labeled pill bottles. This will help you stay organized and not mix up your medication. Keep all medications out of the reach of children.
If you are flying, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not require medication to be in prescription bottles; however, some states do require this, so it is best to play it safe and keep your medications in their original bottles.
If your medication must be stored in a refrigerator, take extra precautions to make sure it stays at the recommended temperature. First, check with your pharmacist, the manufacturer of your medication, or doctor to see what the optimal temperature is for your medication. Write that temperature down and bring it with you so that you don’t forget. It may be helpful to you to monitor the temperature inside of your cooler. Some medical coolers contain thermometers, or you can purchase one to place inside the cooler.
You can purchase a cooler or an insulated medication travel bag. Pack your medication in the original container, inside the cooler. Pack icepacks in the cooler to prevent the temperature from rising. Pack some extra freezer bags with you in case you have to add extra ice to your cooler. The freezer bags will prevent the melted ice from making the medication box or bottle too damp.
Some refrigerated medications can actually be stored at room temperature for a short period. For example, adalimumab (Humira) can be kept at room temperature for 14 days if it is protected from heat and light. Ask your pharmacist for more details on this and if it applies to your medication.
Can I Bring My Medication on an Airplane?
The TSA website provides a lot of information on how to fly with your medication.
It is not necessary to notify TSA officers about any medication you’re carrying unless it is in liquid form. Keep in mind the following:
- Liquid medication is allowed in carry-on bags in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight. You must tell the officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the start of the screening checkpoint process.
- Pills or other solid medications are allowed in unlimited amounts as long as they are screened.
Although the TSA states that you can store your medication in your checked bag or a carry-on, it is recommended that you keep your medication in your carry-on. If you’re concerned about your medication going through the X-ray machine, there shouldn’t be a problem with this.
Tips for Camping or Road Trips
You may not have access to a refrigerator while camping or on long drives. If this is the case, keep your medication in a cooler and be vigilant about replacing the ice packs and monitoring the temperature. Always keep your medication cooler out of direct sun.
Additionally, there are coolers available that can plug into your vehicle’s 12-volt plug.
What If I Forget to Bring My Medication?
With the chaos that can occur prior to traveling, sometime people simply forget to pack their medication. Skipping doses of your medication could potentially put you at risk for complications such as worsening of symptoms, disease progression, or disease relapses, depending on your condition.
Call your doctor if you forget your medication. They can advise you on what steps to take, or even call in a refill to a pharmacy near your location. You can also call your pharmacist, who can transfer the medication to a pharmacy near you or contact your insurance company for an override if needed.
Your medication should not hold you back from traveling. Make sure you educate yourself on best practices for traveling with medications, especially if you are flying. With a few extra preparation steps, you can even easily travel with your refrigerated medication. Your pharmacist is there to help you understand the best ways to manage your medication therapy.
Renee Baiano, PharmD, CSP, is a clinical program manager on the clinical services team at AllianceRx Walgreens Prime. She is a certified specialty pharmacist, with a focus on chronic inflammatory disease. Baiano was previously a Walgreens retail pharmacist and Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy staff pharmacist. She is a graduate of Duquesne University Mylan School of Pharmacy.
Alliance Rx Walgreens Prime is a corporate sponsor of the Global Healthy Living Foundation.
Disabilities and Medical Conditions. Transportation Security Administration. https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures.
TSA Travel Tips Traveling with Medication. Transportation Security Administration. https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2014/09/05/tsa-travel-tips-traveling-medication.
Prescribing Information. Humira (Adalimumab), AbbVie. https://www.rxabbvie.com/pdf/humira.pdf.
Keeping Medications Cold While Traveling. Systemic Autoinflammatory Disease (SAID) Support. http://saidsupport.org/keeping-medications-cold-while-traveling.