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Travel Safety. By Our Student Pharmacist, Steve McVey.


Summer vacation and travel are here!

The summer months can be very relaxing and fun, but travel can be stressful and bring with it unexpected issues. One thing that can make travel even more stressful is having to manage your medications away from home. It is important to know if there are any restrictions on traveling with your medications, how to store them while traveling, and how to take them if you are traveling outside your normal time zone. If you plan to fly, make sure you check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website ahead of time to know what the rules are about traveling with your medications (you can search “medications”).

Several helpful tips include:

  • Carry a letter from your physician that includes medical conditions and medications you are taking. Include your physician’s and pharmacy’s phone numbers.
  • Keep your medications with you in your carry-on.
  • Keep your medications in the original, labeled prescription containers if possible.
  • Tell the screener that you have your medications in your bag and alert them if you have diabetic testing supplies with you.
  • These rules can change so always be sure to check before you travel.


If you are planning to drive, ask your pharmacist about any special storage instructions for your medications. You may need to use cold packs and coolers for refrigerated medications. Plan ahead so you don’t run out of medication. Let your pharmacy know 1-2 weeks ahead of your travel plans. This will allow them time to work through any potential issues in getting your medication or working with your insurance. Your pharmacist can also instruct you on how to take your medications in a different time zone.

If you plan on driving, make sure your vehicle is in good repair. Have a mechanic do a checkup to screen for potential safety issues. Educate yourself on roadside repair and know what to do/who to contact should you have issues you cannot resolve. Map out your refueling plan to keep from running out of gas. If you are traveling to other states, you may want to familiarize yourself with any unique traffic laws.

Study up and educate yourself about your travel destination. Learn what services are available and where to find them. Inquire about any special weather conditions or other unexpected or unique occurrences (i.e. traveling to a location where flash flooding is a possibility, local events that may impact your travel plans, etc.). You may also want to learn about the local culture. Educating yourself will enrich your experiences and keep you safe and healthy during your stay.


International travel presents a host of other considerations you should review prior to travel. Schedule a visit with your physician about 4-6 weeks in advance to make sure you are healthy and able to travel. Discuss with your physician or pharmacist what immunizations you may need while traveling to that area. Some needed vaccinations may be unexpected, like the current resurgence of measles.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the first two months of 2019 there were over 34,000 confirmed cases of measles in 42 countries in the WHO European region.

You can learn more about staying safe and healthy while traveling at this CDC website.

A few helpful tips about international travel also include:

  • Wash your hands frequently and before eating, drinking, or touching your face. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid tap water and other sources of unpurified water (i.e. ice, fountain drinks, etc.). Instead choose bottled products or heated drinks.
  • Be careful of what you eat. Avoid street vendors and never eat undercooked meat or vegetables. Avoid raw fruits and veggies unless you can peel them before eating.
  • Protect yourself from bug bites, animal bites, and sunburn.

Vacations and travel can provide needed rest and relaxation, as well as many great memories. Prepare for your travels well ahead of time to minimize stress and keep yourself healthy as you have fun.


  1. Transportation Security Administration. Department of Homeland Security. https://www.tsa.gov/. Accessed June 27, 2019.
  2. Travel and Your Medicines. Pharmacist Letter. Therapeutic Research Center. https://pharmacist.therapeuticresearch.com/Content/Segments/PRL/2016/Jul/Travel-and-Your-Medicines-9921. Published June 2016. Accessed June 27, 2019.
  3. Staying Healthy While Abroad. Pharmacist Letter. Therapeutic Research Center. https://pharmacist.therapeuticresearch.com/Content/Segments/PRL/2013/May/Staying-Healthy-While-Abroad-5575. Published April 2013. Accessed June 27, 2019.
  4. Traveler’s Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. Accessed June 27, 2019.
  5. Measles- European Region. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/csr/don/06-may-2019-measles-euro/en/. Updated May 6, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2019.

Photo Sources:

  1. Plane: https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/best-travel-tips-2018-21-things-experienced-business-travelers-say-to-do-when-you-hit-road.html
  2. Photography/Mountain: https://www.outsideonline.com/2393413/what-to-know-when-traveling-alone
  3. Car: https://backroadramblers.com/how-to-pack-a-small-car-for-a-big-trip/

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