A female patient takes her medication mid-flight to ensure adherence.
Safety and adherence

How to Ensure Medication Adherence While Traveling

June 11, 2024

Vacations and travel, while very exciting, can be stressful. But, staying adherent to your prescriptions while traveling doesn’t have to be!

Let’s explore some strategies and suggestions you can follow before and during travel to help ensure you take or administer medications as intended. 

Consult with Your Pharmacist Before Traveling

Just as you’d check with a travel agent or travel review site before booking plans for your vacation, it’s important to check in with your pharmacist! At least a month before you travel, set aside time to call your local pharmacy. 

Your pharmacist can offer helpful tips for staying adherent to your prescriptions or they may even suggest you schedule a quick appointment with your doctor to ensure you’re fully covered for your travel. 

Especially for patients with chronic conditions, like blood disorders, heart conditions, or diabetes, that require timed medication doses, these conversations are essential. Proactive planning can enable you to build a plan for timing medications, testing, and meals even when your schedule is altered. 

Over Pack Your Medications

Though packing light is often a priority for most travelers, you never want to pack light on the medications you need. You never know when you may face unexpected travel delays that leave you stuck abroad or at airports without access to pharmacies. 

By packing a week or so of extra prescription medications you’ll have peace of mind that you’re more than covered and can remain adherent even when facing delays and unplanned vacation extensions. 

Pack Prescriptions in Your Carry-On

You may never expect to lose checked-in luggage — but it does happen. Most airlines will encourage passengers to keep prescription medications in their carry-ons and this is very solid advice.

By not checking your medications, you can ensure they remain secure and with you at all times in case of delays or lost luggage. You can even take this a step further and only carry medications in your allotted “personal item” such as a backpack or purse that can be stowed by your feet should you need access to medications during your flight. Nowadays, overhead bin space is tight and there’s a fair chance that your roller luggage will be checked at the gate — so if you carry medications in roller luggage be sure they’re in an accessible location so that you can remove them at a moment’s notice.

Set Timers to Out-Smart Timezones

Changing timezones can do so much more than just give you jetlag — it can totally throw your medication adherence to the wind. Especially if you’re disoriented from long travel days it can be very easy to get confused on the right time to take or administer medications when hopping from timezone to timezone. 

Rather than timezone-based alarms, consider setting timers or countdown alarms to best adhere to the windows in which you need to take medication. 

If you follow these tips above and have proactive conversations with your pharmacist, remaining adherent while traveling can become much less stressful. Bon voyage! 

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