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Get tips for managing your meds while you’re on the go.

By thinking ahead, managing your medications while you’re away from home can keep you sightseeing instead of searching for a pharmacy. With these tips, you can make sure you have what you need to stay healthy on your trip — and you’ll know what to do if you lose your medications.

Refill before you go

Think about everything you take and whether you have enough to get you through your trip. If needed, refill before you leave. Don’t forget about the over-the-counter medications you use frequently or any supplies you need (like syringes for insulin).

Your insurance company can usually give you a “vacation override,” which will let your pharmacy refill your prescriptions early so you won’t run out. Keep your medications in their original packaging, with the labels showing what they contain and that they were prescribed to you.

Plan for special circumstances

Do you take any medicine that needs to be kept cold? Call ahead to every place you’ll be staying to make sure they have a refrigerator available. If not, bring along a small cooler with cold packs for insulin or other medications that must be chilled.

Bring a list of your medications

If you have a lot of medications, consider bringing a letter from your doctor stating what’s prescribed for you and what conditions they treat. Make doubly sure to do this if you’re carrying any medications that are considered controlled substances, such as prescription pain relievers.

Keep your medications in your carry-on

If you’re flying, stow your medications in your carry-on luggage or purse. If you’re driving, remember where you packed them so they’re in easy reach. 

And make sure you take your medications normally while you’re en route. Set reminders on your phone, if needed. Not missing doses helps you stay healthy, especially during a hectic travel day. 

Remember that list of medications in the doctor’s letter? Carry it with you, too, in case an airport security officer or a customs officer asks you to explain the medications you’re traveling with.

What to do if you lose your medications

If you lose your medications, don’t panic. In many places, you can get them replaced the same day. Here’s what to do.

  • If you’re in the United States, find a pharmacy near you, and then call your home pharmacy. They can usually transfer your prescriptions so you can refill them normally. You may need to call your insurance company and explain that you lost your medications while traveling.
  • In Canada, Europe or the United Kingdom, ask a local pharmacist what to do. Your home doctor will probably have to email or fax a new prescription, and a local doctor will have to approve it before the pharmacy can give you your medications.
  • In Mexico and many Caribbean destinations, most prescription medications can be dispensed by a pharmacist without a prescription, so bring your list of medications to a reputable local pharmacy recommended by your hotel.

If you’re having trouble getting medications replaced and it affects your health or safety, go to an urgent care clinic or try to get in touch with your care provider back home. 

Are international medications safe?

In most places you’re likely to travel, both prescription and over-the-counter medications dispensed or sold by a pharmacist are safe to take. 

“But medications you get in other countries may have different names and dosage strengths, so you may need to take more or fewer pills or take your medication in a different way than usual,” says Joe LoBrutto, PharmD, Geisinger Pharmacy manager. 

Talk to the pharmacist and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting and how to take it. And when you get home, go to your local pharmacist and have new refills dispensed, so you can resume your normal medication routine.

Next steps: 

Get to know Geisinger Pharmacy
Manage your prescriptions on MyGeisinger
How to avoid food and drug interactions

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