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 my medication. I have Crohn’s disease and each 3 months I get a big bag of medicine from my pharmacy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.