Prescription medications are an essential item on your packing list when you’re traveling. However, bringing them can require a little preparation.
Before you head out, contact your physician to make sure you have your meds available for the duration of your trip. You can travel with most medications ― just remember to leave them in the prescription bottle or have the prescription note.
“It’s also beneficial to have a current list from your pharmacy with descriptions of each of your medications on hand, as the drugs may have different names depending on which country you’re traveling to,” said Dr. Kavita Desai, a pharmacist and founder of health and wellness company Revivele.
If you’re traveling by plane, liquid medications are limited to travel-size containers of 3.4 ounces in the U.S. if you have them on your carry-on. Many pediatric prescriptions need refrigeration, so bring ice packs if you’re packing children’s medication, said Dr. Neela Sethi Young, a pediatrician and co-founder of the scrubs brand Jaanuu.
In the midst of packing for your vacation, it’s normal that medications may slip your mind. If you realize while traveling that you forgot your medications, it’s important that you act quickly in order to avoid gaps in your prescription regimen.
“Try your best to avoid stopping your medications abruptly,” Sethi Young said. “This can have serious health effects.”
Additionally, make sure not to change your medication or take something in its place ― e.g., over-the-counter medicine or an alternate drug ― as that can also put your health into danger.
Here’s what you can do to obtain forgotten medication if you’re away from home.
Contact your doctor’s office immediately.
Once you realize that you forgot a medication, get in touch with the doctor who prescribed it. Try calling their office or sending a message via your patient portal as soon as possible.
“Your physician’s office may be able to fax or email a note of your latest medical consultation or summary of your health conditions and medications with dosing instructions,” Desai said.
If you’re traveling domestically in the U.S., they may even be able to transfer your prescription to a pharmacy near you.
If you’re unable to reach your physician, get in touch with your pharmacy back home.
The pharmacy where you go to collect your prescription has a record of your medications.
Therefore, if you’re unable to get in touch with your doctor, contact a pharmacist back home so they can locate the exact names of your medications and associated dosing, Sethi Young said.
Visit a local pharmacy at your destination.
Once you receive a copy of your medication record, take it to a local pharmacy, as you may be able to purchase your prescription medications there. Make sure to visit either a hospital-based pharmacy or a reputable chain pharmacy and insist on original packaging of the medication, Desai said.
Remember to keep the receipts from your purchase, because you may get some form of reimbursement if you have travel insurance, Desai added.
Each country has its own rules regarding the sale of prescription medications. So if you’re denied medications after showing your prescription from your doctor, you may have to visit a local physician for a new prescription.
Visit an urgent care or internal medicine clinic.
Urgent care centers and medical clinics with internal medicine physicians are generally knowledgeable about a variety of health conditions, Desai said. She recommends that you take a list of your current medications and medical conditions from your primary care provider during a visit.
Generally, internal medicine or family medicine physicians who act as general practitioners can prescribe a variety of medications. If the local internal medicine physician is unable to help with your prescription, they may refer you to a specialized physician who can.
The process to retrieve your forgotten medications may seem stressful, but don’t panic. There are medical professionals who can support you and help you gain access to your medicine, Sethi Young said.