Top 10 safety tips when traveling with your medicines


topten spot-smTraveling can be hectic enough without the added problem of worrying about your medicines. So when you’re on-the-go, it’s important to make sure your medicine travels safely with you. Here are some things to keep in mind to reduce the risk that something will go wrong: 

1) When packing for a trip, keep your medicines in their original child-resistant containers, not baggies or pill organizers that can be easily accessed by young children.

2) When packing your medicine, keep them in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight. Never store medicines (pills, ointments, patches, eye or ear drops, etc.) in your car's glove compartment or trunk, even if packed inside luggage.

3) If flying, always pack your medicines in a carry on piece of luggage and bring it with you on the plane. Consider bringing more medicine with you than you need in case of flight delays that may extend your travel.

4) Never combine different medicines in the same container. People often think they can rely on the color and shape of the medicines to tell them apart. However, the possibility of a medication error is much more likely to occur when medicine is not stored in its original container.

5) If traveling to a warm destination, keep the following in mind:

  • Use caution when wearing medicine patches in extreme heat. Wearing patches while sun bathing or in hot tubs can cause the medicine in the patch to release too quickly causing a dangerous reaction.
  • Some medicines and sun exposure is not good. These medicines can make you more sensitive to the sun. If you take a sun-sensitive medicine and are exposed to too much sun, your skin may burn easily. Be sure to know if any of the medicines you are taking are sun-sensitive.

6) Bring a complete list of your medicines (generic and brand), including the reason you take it, the dose, how often you take it, and important phone numbers with you including your pharmacy and doctor. Also list any medical conditions or allergies you may have. Keep this list somewhere safe (like your wallet). Tell those traveling with you about the list and its location. Hopefully you won’t need this but if you do it could be a lifesaver. Should you need emergency care your health care team will have an accurate medicine list available.

7) When traveling internationally keep in mind that the brand name of the medicine you take at home may be used for a totally different purpose in another country. Some of these medicines may treat the same condition, but actually contain different ingredients. If you should need a refill while traveling in another country, give the pharmacist the generic name of the medicine you take. As another safeguard, always tell the pharmacist the reason you are taking the medicine.

8) Whether your travel schedule is hectic or relaxing, one thing for sure is that your daily routine is changed. When your routine is changed, it may be easy for you to forget to take your medicine on time. You may find it helpful to set an alarm (for example on your cell phone) to remind you when to take your medicine.

9) Take a supply of over-the-counter medicines with you. For example, an antidiarrheal, a pain reliever, or an antihistamine (for allergic reaction). You never know what you may encounter on vacation and this way you will always have what you need on hand.

10) If you take a medicine more than once per day and will be traveling to another time zone, you will need to plan ahead. With certain medicines you may be able to develop your own schedule of when to take your doses. For other medicines, such as insulin, you should discuss with a doctor how to adjust your medicine schedule to the anticipated time zone.

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Created on August 7, 2012