Packing Prescription Medications For Air Travel: What You Need To Know

If you’re like 55% of Americans, you take at least one prescription medication each day. And if you have an upcoming trip where you’ll need to travel by plane, you may be wondering what steps you should take to make traveling with your necessary prescriptions easier and hassle-free.

Fortunately, the rules and regulations for flying with prescription medications in the United States are pretty straight-forward and clearly outlined by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). Still, there are a few pointers worth keeping in mind as you prepare for your upcoming trip.

Pack It In Your Carry-On Bag

Perhaps the best piece of advice to follow when it comes to flying with prescription medications is to pack them with you in your carry-on bag. While it is unlikely that your checked luggage will be lost or damaged, the risk always exists—and the last thing you want is to be stuck without your required prescription medication when you arrive at your destination.

By packing your medications in your carry-on luggage, you can rest assured that you’ll always have your medication on you at all times. This reduces the risk of it becoming lost during your travels. Still, it is always a good idea to keep a copy of your prescription, along with your prescribing doctor’s contact information with you at all times. This way, if your medication does go missing for any reason, you can contact your doctor for a refill as soon as possible once you arrive at your destination. This is an especially important precaution to take if you are taking any prescriptions to manage a serious medical condition.

Furthermore, keep in mind that if you do bring your medications in a carry-on bag, any liquid medications you’re taking will not be subjected to the TSA’s rules regarding liquids. This means that if you have more than 3.4 ounces of liquid medication in your carry-on bag, you will be fine as long as you have the prescription with you.

Tips For Traveling With Prescription Medication

If you’ll be traveling for an extended period of time, you may choose to bring a large supply of your medication with you rather than having to refill your prescription at a local pharmacy while traveling. If you choose to this route, be aware that the TSA does allow for more-or-less unlimited transport of medications. However, you should be prepared for a little extra screening at security if this is the case, as you will likely be asked to explain the reasoning for traveling with a large amount of medication. You may also be asked to show proof of your prescription, so be sure to keep this with you at all times.

Generally, if you’re traveling with more than about 90 days’ worth of medication, you should expect to be stopped and questioned by TSA agents and airport security. However, once you explain the situation, you shouldn’t have any further trouble getting through security.

Generally speaking, you will have the easiest time getting through airport security if you keep all of your prescription medications in their original bottles. While you are not explicitly required by the TSA to do this, the United States Customs and Border Protection does require this—so keeping everything in original bottles will just make traveling a lot easier on you. If for any reason you no longer have the original bottle, you should bring a copy of your prescription that was written by your doctor along with a doctor’s note explaining why you need the medication.

A Note About International Travel

If you’ll be traveling internationally with prescription medication, be sure to research the specific rules and guidelines for traveling with medications in your destination country. Some countries will have strict regulations regarding what kinds of medications can and cannot cross their borders.

If you’re bringing a doctor’s note to explain your reasoning for needing certain medications, it would also be a good idea to have that note translated into the language of the country where you will be traveling. You may also want to provide a contact phone number for your prescribing doctor so that any additional questions or concerns can be addressed as needed. More than likely, none of this will be necessary, but it’s best to have all your bases covered while traveling.

The Bottom Line

Overall, traveling with prescription medication is such a common practice that it shouldn’t be a big deal. To ensure things go as smoothly as possible, however, you should always keep your medication in a carry-on bag and keep it in its original container. Furthermore, having a note from your doctor along with an explanation of why you need your medication is always a good idea—especially if you’re traveling internationally.

By taking these basic precautions and researching medication/travel requirements for any foreign countries you will be visiting, you can easily travel with your prescription medications. From there, you’ll have one less thing to worry about as you prepare for your upcoming travels!

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