As we enter into the busy summer travel season - it's not only the delayed flights or traffic back-ups that can spoil your vacation. Not carefully considering your medications when traveling can really put a twist in your travel plans.
Medications are essential to most travelers - but safely transporting them is usually the last thing most of us think about.
There are things you need to think of when planning your next trip:
Always keep with you a list of all the medications you take, their dosages, your doctor's phone number and health insurance information.
Plan ahead and make sure you have plenty of your prescription medications before you take any trip. Carry an extra week with you just in case your travel plans change. Most insurance companies will approve early refills for traveling purposes.
It's a good idea to carry a duplicate prescription, and make sure that both the generic and trade names of the drug are included in case your medication is lost or stolen.
If you will be traveling to different time zones, discuss medication scheduling with your doctor or pharmacist. You may have to adjust your dosages or the time you take your medications.
Getting separated from your luggage can be a pain, but it could turn into a matter of life or death when you have packed your medications in that luggage.
When flying, always carry your medications in your carry-on bag. Keeping your medications with you also helps to prevent exposure to extreme temperatures in the baggage compartment, which may alter your drug's effectiveness.
Do not store your medications in your car glove box, trunk or beach bags; the heat there can also deteriorate your medications.
Keep your medications in their original containers. This will make it easier for officials to inspect. And if you have a medical emergency, it would be easy for others to determine what medications you are taking.
If your medication requires that your use a syringe - for example, insulin - you will need to carry your prescription with you to pass through airport security. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes be prepared to provide airport security personnel with copies of prescriptions for medications and supplies and well as contact information for the doctor.
Some countries have different regulations about the types of medications that can be brought in. Some over-the-counter drugs may be considered controlled substances in other countries. You might need to contact the appropriate embassy before you travel to see if your medication is acceptable.
If you are traveling with narcotic-based prescription drugs (sedatives, tranquilizers, pain medications), also carry a letter from your doctor stating why you need the drug to avoid problems with custom officials.
If your medication needs to be refrigerated, it would be useful to take a small insulated container with you.
If you have a serious or chronic medical condition or history of drug allergy, you should consider wearing a nationally recognized Medic-Alert bracelet. You can call 1-888-633-4283 to order.
Whether you are traveling internationally or domestically, you don't want an illness or problem with your medication to disrupt your plans. This means planning well, managing your medications wisely, and consulting with your doctor or pharmacist about proper precautions to take before you leave home. And, have a great trip!
Ann Areida-Hintz is the senior services coordinator at Hutchins Street Square. She can be reached at 333-6891.
First published: Friday, June 23, 2006