7 Tips for Travelling with Medication

7 Tips for Travelling with Medication

Travelling to new destinations is an exciting adventure, but for those who need to carry medication, it can also be a journey of careful planning and preparation. 

1 – Research Your Destination’s Medication Regulations

Before you set off, it’s crucial to understand that medication regulations can vary significantly from country to country. Some over-the-counter drugs in your home country might be restricted or even banned in other countries. Start by checking the embassy website of your destination country for specific guidelines on medication. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to carrying medication across borders.

2 – Carry a Doctor’s Letter and Prescription

To avoid any misunderstandings at customs, always carry a letter from your doctor explaining your need for the medication. The letter should include details about your condition, the medicine’s generic name, and the prescribed dosage. Also, ensure you have a copy of the original prescription. This documentation can be a lifesaver in situations where you need to explain or verify your medication.

Over-the-counter medicines can have restrictions in some countries. For instance, codeine or pseudoephedrine, common in cold and flu remedies, are controlled substances in some destinations. Research and prepare accordingly. Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter medications you may take. Have your doctor include these in a prescription (and then your name and dosage will be on the packaging) and include them in the doctor’s letter. If certain medications are not allowed in the country you are travelling to have your doctor assist you in finding an alternative.

3 – Original Packaging

One golden rule when traveling with medication is to keep them in their original packaging/containers with clear labels including the label placed on the packing by the pharmacist. Not only does this help customs officials identify them easily, but it also avoids unnecessary confusion or suspicion about the contents.

Do NOT remove it from its original packaging. If you usually use a weekly pill box to help keep your tablets organised, do not use this while travelling between countries. This includes making sure there are no tablets in the organiser.

4 – Keep Medication in Your Carry-On

Luggage can get lost, so pack your medication in your carry-on bag. This way, you’ll have access to your medicine during the flight and in case of any delays. Remember, temperature changes in the cargo hold can also affect some medications, another reason to keep them close.

5 – Check Limits on Medication Amounts

While you will want to sufficient medication for your entire trip, many countries have restrictions on the quantity of medication you can bring in. A general rule of thumb is to carry no more than a 90-day supply. Check with the embassy or a travel medicine specialist if you’re planning a longer stay.

6 – Emergency Plan: Know Where to Get Help

Familiarise yourself with the medical care system of your destination. Know where the nearest pharmacy and hospital are, especially if you’re traveling to remote areas. Also, consider learning key phrases in the local language related to your medication and health condition.

7 – Consider Travel Insurance with Medical Coverage

Travel insurance with medical coverage can be a lifesaver, especially if you need prescription refills or medical care abroad. Make sure your policy covers pre-existing conditions and medication loss or theft.


Carrying medication while traveling internationally necessitates planning, but it’s a manageable part of your journey. By being well-prepared and informed, you can navigate through different countries’ regulations with ease and confidence. 

Another article you may find of interest is 5 Items I Always Have in My First Aid Kit.

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20 Responses

  1. Very good tips! Especially, any medication should be in the carry-on. A few years ago, a friend of mine put hers into the checked bag, and it didn´t make it to her travel destination. NOT good. We couldn´t enjoy the time as we always worried that something could happen as she usually needed to take it daily.

    1. Thanks Pia. Medication is the one thing we always make sure is in our carry on. We just don’t want to take the risk. Hope your friend was ok.

  2. I’ve never had to travel with prescription medicines, but after catching a nasty cold a few times on my travels, I always pack flu meds, painkillers and a bunch of other ‘just in case’ meds. They come super handy when you need them and have saved my day many times.

  3. Great tips! You definitely don’t want to have your medicine confiscated, that could be disaster.

  4. Great tips especially keeping the medication in its original packaging. Prescription bottles are so wasteful all that plastic and usually bigger than what you actually need so the tendency is to put it into a smaller bottle, however that is not the best thing to do!

    1. Thanks Andi. The problem with the prescription medication is that when you enter the country you are travelling to they need to be able to see that it has been prescribed, so they need to you your name of the label. So unfortunately can mean carrying bulky packaging.

  5. Good post. I’m wondering if you have experience traveling for extended periods with medications. Or example, you are only allowed 1 month of medication when traveling in Japan. What do you do if you will be traveling for 8 weeks??

    1. Thanks Amy. When we are in doubt about taking medication we contact the embassy for that country. They can usually either give you advice or provide you with someone that can.

  6. Great tips for travelling with medications. So far all I need is the occasional sinus tablet but you never know what might happen in the future and what medication you might need to travel with. And just because you need medication, it shouldn’t stop you from travelling.

    1. Thanks Sharyn. It’s just a bit of pre-planning most of the time to be able to travel with medication.

  7. These are great tips. One thing I would add: if your medication needs to stay refrigerated, you need a doctor’s note saying that in order for a frozen ice pack to be carried on in most European countries (the US doesn’t ever ask for it).

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