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I know I need to keep my prescription meds in their original, labeled bottles when I travel, but what about supplements like vitamin D, calcium, etc? I buy the jumbo bottles at Costco and would like to take just enough with my on my trip to last for the three weeks that we will be gone. Is it allowed to transfer these into a pill container? Or should I buy the smallest bottles I can find at the drug store? thanks

Posted by
3428 posts

TSA does NOT require that meds (except for liquids) be in original bottle or labeled. Whether or not inspectors in other countries will worry about how you have your pills organized is always a question. Personally, I've never had a problem taking meds into other countries for my personal use (and we've had more than 40 international trips)
It is the INFORMATION that is important- more in case you have a medical emergency, or need a refill (lost meds, trip extended...) You should have the brand name of the medication (ambien, etc.) and the generic name, and if no generic, a "chemical" name as brand names are not always the same. I carry an information sheet with the above info (one for me , one for hubby)and I also list my Dr's phone #s, pharmacy's #, and emergency contact info as well a list medical conditions, surgeries /dates. If you become ill while traveling, or need a refill because you lost meds, etc. it could be vital. Feel free to private message me if you want a sample copy of the info sheet. Also, note that liquid meds of more than 3 oz should NOT be placed in your 3-1-1 bag, but should be in their own baggie, in original bottle. Also if you use a CPAP, nebulizer, etc, these devices must be declared and removed for separate screening. Most airlines don't count these in # of allowed carry-on.

There are lots of ways to organize your meds. You can ask your pharmacist to print you an extra label (or use the one they give you that is with the 'side effects" printout) and put it on a small Ziploc bag, then put the medication in the bag. Alternatively, some pharmacies will prepare blister packs with all your meds grouped according to when you take them (example, day 1, am in one blister, day 1 lunch next, day 1 pm next, etc)and put all labels on the top of the sheet. You could use a pill organizer and put the labels from the pharmacy on one sheet of paper with the organizer. . I use the small Ziploc type bags (Rite aid carries them in their travel section) to hold each of the pills, then put them inside a larger baggie to organize (hubby’s prescriptions in one, mine in another, and otc’s in a third). Takes very little space. I always take generics for : naproxen (Aleve), aspirin, Benadryl, omeprazole (Prilosec), cough gel caps (Nyquil/Dayquil), and Dramamine. These are each in individual baggies (unless they come in a punch card, those I keep all together in one baggie). Additionally, I take plenty of our prescription meds (enough for the entire trip, plus several extra days in case of emergencies).

I also have a small first aid ‘kit’ in a quart baggie with band aids of assorted sizes, gauze pads, adhesive tape, seri-strips, dental floss, alcohol wipes, hand wipes, and small packets of Neosporin and cortisone cream

Posted by
9104 posts

TSA does NOT require that meds (except for liquids) be in original
bottle or labeled.

US Customs does:
"...Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply. If your medications or devices are not in their original containers, you must have a copy of your prescription with you or a letter from your doctor. A valid prescription or doctors note is required on all medication entering the U.S...."

Posted by
2393 posts

In the event of a medical emergency it is wise to keep your meds in their original containers. Loved ones may not be able or cool headed enough to provide medical personnel with info on meds. EMT's would look for bottles - not printed lists.

Posted by
3428 posts

Actually, EMTs have seen my form and told me they much prefer it to sorting through the bottles- it has as much, and sometimes more info, because I include the condition it I prescribed for and generic/chemical names and it is organized in a way they like. ER doctors and nurses have also complemented me on this form. I carry it for myself, my husband and my mother-in-law in my purse all the time. Even on a trip, you would not want to carry around the original bottles /prescriptions all day. But carrying the list/form is easy. Fits in a pocket, a wallet, a day bag, a secure waist money belt, etc. If you do have a medical emergency (been there, done that), it has ALL the info the medical people and even the hospital admissions, etc. need. You might be reacting to a dose you took the night before (or one you missed, etc.), not to something you just took, or they might need to know that you need a dose of a regular med soon. Or a treatment that is being considered might conflict with something you take. It also informs them of any/all allergies you have (especially to medications)- and that info would not be on bottles of meds.

If you inform your spouse and any/all travel companions about the form/list and where you carry it (you could even carry each other's duplicates), it is easy for them to find. And again, much more secure than carrying around the original bottles. Customs only checks you on your arrival back into the US- and usually it is only a matter of handing them the card you fill out on the plane and answering that you haven't been on a farm. They rarely (I've never seen it done) check arriving Americans' bags for medications. And if you took a reasonable amount (for the number of days you'll be gone plus a few extra), you won't have enough to concern them when you come back home.

Posted by
1194 posts

Don't forget that you can get your meds packaged into a blister pack. It may cost money but it makes it very easy to see dosages.
Many medical personnel are trained to look for the label "In case of emergency" (ICE) in people's phone contacts. You can put all your med info, dr info, contact info in that section. I know that iPhones now have a section that is accessible even when the phone is locked.

Posted by
2528 posts

If prescription medications come in a blister pack and/or are in small containers, I transport as is. If not, I have placed in smaller containers and make sure instructions are included. Supplements are tossed into the smallest container(s) that such fits. After many international trips, not once has anyone of authority even peeked at my drugs. Perhaps I just don't fit a drug mule profile. However, I have been questioned on how could I possibly travel with so few possessions. Easy, carry less, travel fast, enjoy travel more.

I ditto MrsEB. I have taken pills and supplements and placed them in small travel containers. Then, I just attach a label with an abbreviation, so that I know what it is. Sometimes, I will cut the side panel off a box with name and dosing instructions and put in my first aid kit or toiletry bag. The TSA only cares about things that could high jack a plane or harm other passengers, flight crew. It's hard to blow up a plane with pills (though I have never tried it). I say, just take what you need and perhaps a few days extra. Place in smaller containers and store in your carry-on in case of lost luggage or divide between carry-on and checked luggage.

Posted by
1625 posts

If you have a prescription for a controlled substance (like Xanax, Oxycodone, Methadone ) then you should always carry it in it's original container no matter what. If a cop pulls you over and your Schedule II drug is in a baggie in your purse, you might have some splaining to do! No worries about anything you can get OTC, like vitamins and heartburn medication. I am a worry wart and want nothing to go wrong so I carry all my meds (2) in their original containers. The Costco Containers are HUGE sometimes, and sometimes small so maybe just when you get it refilled ask them for the smaller containers.