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Traveling with Medications

Managing medicines during travel can be a challenge, but having a plan can help. Here are some ways to make traveling with medicines easier and safer.

Tips for Traveling with Medicines

Before you travel, talk to your doctor and pharmacist about your travel plans. Carry a letter that describes the medical condition and medicines needed. Make sure that you have all medicines and supplies that you need.

Before you leave:

  • Keep a list of all medicines, doses, and schedule.
  • Have contact information for the prescribing doctor and pharmacy.
  • Make a plan for a medical clinic and pharmacy at your destination in case of an emergency.
  • Think about how time zone changes and travel may affect the dosing schedule. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure.

When you pack:

  • Store medicines in their original containers. Make sure medicines are clearly labeled.
  • Take an extra supply of medicine so that you don’t run out when you are away from home.
  • Pack medicines and supplies in a designated bag or backpack that stays with you.

During your trip:

  • Use phone alarms or other reminders since you won’t have a normal routine.
  • Allow for extra time, and check that all steps are followed and the correct dose is given.
  • Follow instructions for safe storage, handling, and disposal.

Managing Medicines During Cancer

Safe Storage and Disposal of Medicines During Travel

It can be hard to store, handle, and dispose of medicines during travel. This is especially true for chemotherapy and other cancer medicines.

  • Know how each medicine should be stored.
    • Ask the care team if medicines need special storage, such as refrigeration or protect from light.
    • If needed, use an insulated cooler with ice packs or gel packs.
    • When staying at a hotel, call ahead to confirm that there will be a mini fridge in the room to store medications that need refrigeration.
    • A portable thermometer can be used to monitor the temperature of the cooler or hotel refrigerator.
  • Be aware of temperature changes.
    • Don’t store medicines in the glove compartment or trunk of a car.
    • When traveling by plane, keep medicines in a carry-on bag. Checked luggage can get hot or cold during handling or might get lost.
  • Keep medicines out of the reach of children. Don’t leave luggage with medicine lying around. Put away medicine after each dose. Use a high shelf, cabinet, or hotel safe if available.
  • Dispose of medicines and supplies safely.
    • Use a sharps container for needles. Small, travel-sized models are available.
    • If you will be handling chemotherapy, make sure to have supplies such as gloves, table coverings, and sanitizing wipes. Dispose of any waste in a sealed plastic bag.

It may help to talk to other patient families to find ideas and support. Always check with your care team if you have any questions about medicines.


Reviewed: November 2019