Tips for Traveling with Medications

AUGUST 30, 2016
One of the most frequent questions patients ask is, “Can I travel with my medications?” The answer is yes, but there are a few rules you should keep in mind to expedite the process.
 
Here’s how to avoid being that guy (or girl) who causes delays at the security gate:

Before You Go:
  • Discuss your travel plans with your prescriber and pharmacist to properly adjust your dosing schedule by time zones.
  • Visit your prescriber to obtain all necessary prescriptions for your medications and supplies to ensure you have enough to last you throughout the entire trip and avoid problems with the TSA.
  • You don’t have to keep your medications and/or medical equipment in the original bottle or labeling, but it would reduce delays or issues.
  • Pack enough medication to last you through your trip, plus at least 2 days extra to stay on the safe side.
  • Put all your medications in a separate bag to expedite the process.
  • Don’t pack your medications in your checked bag (even for the return trip) to avoid temperature issues and delays.
    • But, remember the 3-1-1 liquids rule: anything 3.4 oz (100 mL) or less that fits in 1 quart-sized, resealable bag can go in your carry-on.
Medications
  • Pill/solid:
    • You’re allowed to bring all prescription and OTC medications, as long as they undergo screening.
  • Liquid/cream/gel/aerosol:
    • These are exempt from the 3-1-1 liquids rule, so you’re allowed to bring all prescription and OTC medications >3.4 oz (100 mL) in your carry-on.
    • Medically-required liquids like baby formula, breast milk, and liquids/gels that treat hypoglycemia are allowed.
    • You don’t have to include them in the resealable bag along with other liquids.
  • Insulin
    • This is exempt from the 3-1-1 liquids rule.
    • It can safely pass through X-ray machines, but you can request hand inspection if needed.
Medical Accessories/Supplies
  • Ice packs, freezer packs, gel packs, and other accessories in a frozen or partially-frozen state are allowed.
  • Supplies associated with medically-necessary liquids (eg, syringes, needles, lancets, pumps, IV bags) must undergo screening.
Other Important Tips
  • You must tell the TSA officer that you have medications or medical equipment at the beginning of the screening checkpoint process.
  • Have all your medications and/or medical equipment out and ready to be screened at security.
  • If you don’t want your medications to be X-ray screened or opened, there are additional screening methods like visual inspection available upon request.


Charles Ng, PharmD-MBA Candidate 2017
Charles Ng, PharmD-MBA Candidate 2017
Charles Ng is currently pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy degree at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and a MBA at the University of Baltimore. He received a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Maryland, College Park. Connect with me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlesng58/
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