Can you travel with your medications?

 A common question, and we’ve got the answer!

The big green pill every morning, a teaspoon of the liquid medication at night… Perhaps a dose of oxygen as needed.  Health issues almost always come with a host of medications that can take away pain, help us breathe, lower our blood pressure, regulate a heartbeat, or help us manage even more critical issues.

So what do you do when you need to pack up and go?  Can you board an aircraft with your mini-pharmacy in tow?

The short answer is “yes.”  If you have been prescribed medications, you can certainly bring them with you on an airplane – and you should! 

However, there are a few simple rules to follow in order to bring the medications you need on the plane.  These rules can be found in full on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website (www.tsa.gov), but for the purpose of this article, here are the highlights:

  1.  While not required, it is a good idea to bring a copy of your prescriptions with you.  In the case that there are questions, it is better to have the information handy. 
     
  2. You know that pill box that helps you keep everything organized for each day of the week?  Leave it at home, or bring an empty one with you to fill once you arrive at your destination.  Your medication should be in its original container with your name on the outside – applied by the pharmacy where you purchased the medication. 
     
  3. Keep all medications together and easily accessible in your carry-on luggage.  It is a good idea to place them in a transparent bag, a one-quart sized storage bag if possible.
     
  4. Be ready to declare your medications at the security check-point.  If your doctor has told you that your medication cannot go through x-ray screening, let the TSA staff know that your medication will need a different type of inspection. 

A note about a related topic – medical devices.  Any snorers out there who don a c-pap mask at night to help you breathe better?  Be sure to declare any medical devices in your carry-on luggage before you go through screening.  The TSA staff will guide you through the screening process.

If you are using an external medical device that is connected to your person, such as a neurostimulator, port, feeding tube, insulin pump or other device, please let the TSA staff know about it and where it is located.  You may also, ahead of time, visit www.tsa.gov, and complete and print a TSA notification card that describes your condition.  This is a tool available for your use, should you feel more comfortable giving information in written format.

While not all-inclusive, this information is a good start to understanding what you need to do in order to bring your medications on-board an aircraft.  Before your trip, consult the TSA website for more specific information about your specific items.