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Day 29: Effective Strategies for Flying with Medications

Packing Hacks is a 31-part series devoted to helping you become an expert packer! Each installment offers advice on how to get organized, pack smarter, save on bag fees, and eliminate packing stress. New to Packing Hacks? Start at the beginning.

Yesterday, you became an expert in travel health and beauty. Today, we’re moving on to tips for how to pack and travel with medications.

You’ll learn:

Which medications you’re allowed to bring

How to pack your meds

Special considerations about traveling with medications

Traveling with Medications: What You Can Bring

According to the TSA, you may travel with an unlimited amount of pills and solid-form medications, plus their accompanying items, including freezer packs, IV bags, pumps, and syringes, so long as they’re declared prior to beginning the security-screening process.

Liquid meds may exceed the established constraints of 3.4 ounces and don’t have to be inside a zip-top bag, but, again, travelers must inform TSA agents prior to their security screening.

Furthermore, medications do not have to be inside their prescription bottles, though it is preferable. The TSA elaborates: “States have individual laws regarding the labeling of prescription medications with which passengers need to comply.”

Most medications are screened through X-ray machines, so inform the agent beforehand if you’d prefer a manual inspection.

Need more information? Reference the TSA website’s handy “When I Fly, Can I Bring My …?” search box, which is also available as a feature in the ever-helpful My TSA app (free for iPhone and Android devices).  

Packing Meds

Whether in your carry-on, purse, or other personal item, your medications should be with you to protect yourself in case a checked bag gets lost or in case you need to immediately retrieve medicines.

If your meds spoil when not refrigerated, invest in an insulated bag to keep things cool. There are a great many varieties, including some that can be plugged in and others that use gel and ice packs (these will be screened if not completely frozen solid). Choose one based on the length of your trip and your medications’ refrigeration needs.

Timing Medication Consumption

Stay on your prescribed dosage schedule when crossing time zones (unless informed otherwise by your doctor). Cell phone alarms will help in this task, but keep in mind that most cell phones will automatically update to the local time, unless programmed not to do so.

Special Circumstances

According to the TSA, those traveling with radioactive medications will have their meds screened. Oxygen tanks (and other respiratory equipment) are permissible but “must be declared to the aircraft operator and may require additional screening.”

More Resources

The TSA website offers a wealth of resources. Here are a few:

Up next: Day 30: 10 Products You Don’t Need to Pack.

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