How to pack your medication when flying?

As I’m preparing for my month in South America, I’m getting a lot of questions about how I will deal with my chronic illness and how to pack your medication when flying. I have Crohn’s disease and each 3 months I get a big bag of medicine from my pharmacy.

Do you have Crohn's disease too? Or another chronic illness? Like to travel and need to fly?  How to pack your medication when flying?  I did some research and together with my previous experiences, I came up with a list of 6 tips on how to pack your medication when flying.

How am I going to take all those medication with me on the plane? I did a little research on how to pack your medication when flying. Read more about prepare for travel when chronically ill? Do you have Crohn’s disease too? Or another chronic illness and you need to take a lot of medication with you?

Together with my previous experiences, I came up with a list of 6 tips on how to pack your medication when flying.

Tip # 1: Go see the doctor

This is my number #1 tip for basically everything involved with travelling when you’re chronically ill. Get a doctor’s statement on your illness.

That way, you’ll always have a document with you, where your diagnose and treatment is explained. Make sure the doctor doesn’t just scribble something down on a piece of paper. We all know doctors have the worst handwriting ever, so make sure the doctor’s assistant types things out and print it for you.

6 Tips on how to pack your medications when flying?
Always see your doctor

I always scan a copy and store it in my e-mail account. I’ll stash the original document with my passport and other travel documents. That way, if anybody at airport security would ask for it, I have it with me.

Tip # 2: Talk to the pharmacist

Of course you need to make sure you’ll get all your medication in time before you travel.

But you need to make sure to get a document from your pharmacist too. They can provide you with a list of all your prescribed medication and their generic names. Not all drugs are known by the same name, so the generic name is important. More on brand names and generic names, click here.

6 tips on how to pack your medication when flying
Pharmacy in Germany

Make sure the pharmacist puts your name on the document as this proves the medication was prescribed to you. Add the original list with the medication and put a copy with your travel documents. Maybe, to be extra thorough, you can scan the list and store it in your e-mails too.

Tip #3: Pack your medication in your carry on

I cannot stretch this enough. You need to pack your medication in your carry-on luggage. Not just the pills for the first days or weeks, but everything. Your luggage might get delayed, damaged or lost in transit. It can be nearly impossible to replace your prescription medicines when they get lost.

Here is some information on how to keep your insulin cold during travel.

6 Tips on how to pack your medications when flying?
Always pack your medication in your carry on case

And maybe, you feel really bad during your flight or right after. You might get delayed and you need immediate access to your medication. Aren’t you glad you’ve packed them in your carry on! Here are more carry on packing tips from the Savvy Globetrotter.

Read more: Travel in a wheelchair

Tip # 4: Pack your medication in its original packaging

Tip 4 is a tip I learned the hard way. I was only flying to Krakow for a long weekend, and I looked at all the little cartons with blisters of Azathioprine pills. I found an empty jar and I cleared all the pills from their blisters and put them into the jar.

When I arrived at airport security, the security officer asked me questions about the pills. What they were and why the jar had a label on it which didn’t match with the medication inside. Everything took a lot of time and I started to get stressed. What if he wouldn’t let me take them with me?

Do you have Crohn's disease too? Or another chronic illness? Like to travel and need to fly? How to pack your medication when flying? I did some research and together with my previous experiences, I came up with a list of 6 tips on how to pack your medication when flying.
My medication

Luckily for me, his boss came over and waved my through airport security and I could board the plane. Pfew. Scary moment.

So, long story short. Pack your medication in its original packaging. Preferable with your name and the dose on it.

Read more: Travel with Scoliosis

Tip # 5: Ask the pharmacist to pack your medication for you.

Top 4 will bring me to tip 5. You can ask your pharmacist if they can pack all the pills in suitable containers or jars for you. No more blister packs and 100 information leaflets. Everything together in 1 jar with the right label on it. If you ask nicely, they might be able to help you out with it.

Otherwise, you can always ask for an empty jar with the prescription on it. Then take your medication from its original package and put them all together in the jar.

Tip # 6: Know what you can and cannot bring

Know the rules of the airport security. Basically you can take everything with you as long as you tell the security officer up front that you’re carrying medical equipment or medicines.

  • Pills and other forms of solid medication: bring as many as you like/need. As long as security is able to scan it, you’ll be fine. If you’re carrying enormous amounts, show them the previous mentioned statements to explain your dosage.
  • Liquid medication: you can bring as many as you need to take for the duration of the flight. Put them in bags of 3.4 ounces/ 100 ml. They do not have to be zip top bags. Make sure to notify the security officer before screening.
  • Needles and needle waste: take them in the appropriate packaging and again, warn the security officer upfront.
6 tips on how to pack your medication when flying
Diabetes items

For more detailed information, check the website of the Transportation Security Authorization, TSA.org, or contact your airline directly. It’s always better to ask up front, than to be confronted with problems at security or boarding your plane.

Read more: Travel with Diabetis, what is it like?

6 Tips on how to pack your medication when flying

So there you go, my 6 tips on how to pack your medication when flying. It’s always a good thing to be prepared. Dealing with a chronic illness like Crohn’s disease already gives me enough stress and anxiety, I do not want to be stressed out right before flying. Take your time and prepare before you leave for the airport.

My 6 tips on how to pack your medication when flying:

  • Go see the doctor to get a statement in writing about your illness
  • Talk to the pharmacist and get a statement about your medication
  • Pack your medication in your carry on
  • Pack your medication in its original packaging
  • If that is too bulky, ask the pharmacist to repack it for you, adding the right labels
  • Read up on the rules of airport security and talk to your airline before you leave

I hope you’ll be able to travel stress free with these 6 tips on how to pack your medication when flying. Safe travels!

Looking for more tips on how to stay healthy when flying, check these secret pre-boarding tips!

If you want to read more about travelling with Crohn’s disease, read my guide on how to survive a road trip with Crohn’s disease.

In case you have any questions, please let me know. Did you have troubles getting your medication through airport security? Do you have a smart tip on how to pack your medication when flying? Please let me know in the comment section below.

Do you have Crohn's disease too? Or another chronic illness? Like to travel and need to fly?  How to pack your medication when flying?  I did some research and together with my previous experiences, I came up with a list of 6 tips on how to pack your medication when flying.
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8 Comments

  1. Pingback: Bitching about itching: Can you travel with atopic eczema? | Girl Astray

  2. These are really helpful tips! The original packing part always annoys me because it can take up so much space, but you’re right about it. It just prevents the hassle at the airport. One tip to add which may not be obvious: I go to a local doctor at home with a list of EVERYTHING I want to take, even if I wouldn’t need a prescription for some of it. Every country has different rules, and what may be super easy to get over the counter here in Spain may require prescriptions elsewhere, and having them just makes life easier.

  3. This is such a useful post – I have bags and bags of blister pack medication so I love your idea of asking for the pharmacist to properly put them in a bottle for you. Genius! I met a guy travelling on the Trans-Mongolian with diabetes and he had a big cooler with him to keep his medication at the right temperature. Because there isn’t too much power on board he had found one that was battery powered. Where there is a will there is a way!

  4. This is a very useful post. Thank you so much for sharing. I have some digestive issues and have to travel with a personal collection of medication, and I practise a lot of the tips you listed here, except getting a doctor’s statement. That’s a really good idea. I’ll make sure to remember that for the next time I travel.

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