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Packin' and Poppin' Pills and Supplements

I have packed pills and supplements for two different trips, and done it two different ways, and here are my results: 5 years ago, I purchased the small plastic ziploc coin/bead bags (size 1 inch by 2 inches, found in the beading arts section of Walmart) and packed a day's worth of supplements in them; baby aspirin, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B, Zyrtec. These 21 bag-lets were then stuffed into a sandwich-sized baggie, air squeezed out, and these were packed into my big suitcase. Every day, it was easy to just get a bag-let out, take it after breakfast, and done. Prescription pills were kept in their original containers, and I kept these in my carry-on.

Ha - this year, I thought I would skip doing that; I just took 5 snack-sized baggies of the supplements; so, 21 baby-aspirin in a baggie, 21 Vitamin D's in a baggie etc. Big Mistake! It was SUCH A HASSLE every morning to get each supplement out, control it in my hand while I did that 4 MORE TIMES- aargh - it really was worth it 5 years ago to PRE-BAG all the supplements into their handy little bag-lets. Just for the annoyance factor ALONE! Prescription meds I always keep in their containers, in my carry-on. Next trip, I'll have to dig out those little plastic bags again and pre-pack.

Posted by
630 posts

I'm with ya, Shelley! I do the daily pre-packed pill bags for my vitamins and RX and put them in a small ziploc bag - it works out really well. I simply take a picture with my phone of any prescription pages with the description, etc and store it on my phone. The bottles take up too much room for me.

Posted by
15578 posts

As my trips tend to be long, I'm always looking for ways to lessen the weight of my required meds.

I agree that taking the bottles is too much.

I tried putting the pills into individual bags but it also took up a lot of space. And add to the fact it took me 45 minutes to fill the little bags.

Now, I empty a prescription into a quart sized ziploc bag. I put in the printed label that normally goes on the prescription bottle. I also carry a small weekly pill organizer. Once a week I spend a few minutes filling it and then every day it's easy to get my required pills.

Posted by
27366 posts

I do what Frank II does except that I start out with pills in suitably-sized bottles (just large enough for the quantity needed, sometimes two bottles for very large pills). As the trip goes on, the remaining pills step down to smaller bottles as I discard the largest (now empty) bottle. Sometimes two different pills end up in a single container. It's sort of a celebration once a week to re-fill the 7-day pill minder, because I'm that much closer to being able to throw away one of the pill bottles.

I think 89 days is maybe a bit long to keep pills in a plastic bag because of exposure to moisture, but I've never asked a pharmacist about that.

Posted by
208 posts

I love those little, tiny zip-loc bags! I, too, use them for OTC meds I want to take, also for in my purse. I also use them for my jewelry -- one pair of earrings in each little baggy, and then I put them all in a sandwich-sized bag. I use a variety of sizes for various pieces of jewelry -- they're protected as well as I need them to be, they're easy to see, and take much less space than other jewelry cases/organizers.

My toiletries and makeup are in zip-locs, too. I don't know why anyone would use a pre-made bag with sippers, etc... too much weight and bulk for my travels!


Posted by
1309 posts

I've packed two weeks worth of supplements in one large weekly container, and just taken out half every morning.
I've also used the round screw together bead containers for short trips.
Those work well, but my next trip is 3 weeks and I don't think the pills will fit this time.
I love the idea of tiny baggies and will look for them in my local bead store.
Thanks for the great suggestion!

Posted by
2393 posts

Funny you should bring this up as our next trip will be somewhere between 80 & 90 days. I've been debating various ways to carry all of our meds. I'm kind of liking the small baggie idea and leaving the weekly pill keepers and large bottles at home.

Posted by
3428 posts

No need to look for the bead baggies. You can get tiny pill baggies at most pharmacies. I know for certain that Rite Aid carries them. You DO NOT HAVE TO KEEP PRESCRIPTION MEDS IN THE ORIGINAL BOTTLE EITHER. Put them into the tiny baggies, too (either group each dosage day/time into one small baggie or put all of one medication into a baggie of it's own). If you want, you can take the prescribing info that the pharmacist prints out for you (actually has more info than the bottle labels) or ask the pharmacist to print out an extra label to stick on the baggie or on a piece of paper (put all labels on one sheet, fold and put in the larger baggie you use to hold all the little baggies. Some pharmacies will also prepare 'punch sheets' with your meds grouped by day/time dosages and give you a print out or attach one to the card(s).

Posted by
5008 posts

Regardless of how you "baggie" your meds with extra labels, it is a good idea to take the original data sheet that comes with the RX. We have been to many European countries and have never had a problem with the "baggie" method. There are some states that have laws that require prescription meds to be in original containers, but they are rarely enforced and I can only remember reading about one case in the last 20 years.

Posted by
630 posts

The tiny baggies can be found at local craft stores - Michaels, Joanns, AC Moore, etc. They are cheaper at the craft stores than at a pharmacy. Plus you can use the 40-50% coupons that they provide in the newspaper or you can get them on-line on their website. Save that extra money for more travel goodies! :D

Posted by
630 posts

Regardless of how you "baggie" your meds with extra labels, it is a
good idea to take the original data sheet that comes with the RX.

I take a picture of the data sheet and store it on my phone. Less paperwork to carry around - especially since the odds are slim that I would be asked about my prescriptions.

Posted by
293 posts

Oh yes, now our Smartphones can keep a picture of things, and the pill labels or the large paper direction sheets can be snapped, without taking those printouts along. Ha, 89 days? OK, that's a lot; that requires a definite strategy.

Posted by
6 posts

I was just about to ask folks how they travel with their meds. Thanks, Shelley, for your and everyone's ideas. My mother takes mucho prescription meds and she usually carries stuff in a reusable shopping bag when she comes to see me. All supplements, all meds, etc. It's absurd. She is going to Europe for 2 weeks and has never really traveled much. Normally she puts her meds in the weekly boxes. I think to prevent confusion, and make it easy, she should continue using that method for her BP meds, vitamins, supplements, etc. I really like the ideas of the baggies with a prescription label stuck to them. Or if all of her routine meds are in the boxes, she could just carry the prescription printout with them, right?

She has chronic/frequent migraines and has several pain and migraine meds. I assume it's best to just keep those in the original bottles? What about things like ambien and muscle relaxants? Can anyone chime in on that?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
630 posts

kimfer, to prevent confusion and keep the same routine for your mother, I would keep the pills in the same pill planner your mother uses every day. You may want to buy a second one for the 2nd week of her travel. I wouldn't change her routine - travelling is stressful enough and has enough challenges. I would have her bring the RX data sheets in case she is questioned (slim chance) and place them in her document stack.

Maybe tape the flaps shut so they don't open up by accident in transit - maybe even label the days on the container with the date so she doesn't take the same pills twice from the 2nd container by accident.

Have her bring them in her carryon so they don't get lost for a few days in case her checked luggage gets lost.

I would also bring extras in the rare chance her travel days get extended for a few days.

And maybe buy her something that she can carry her daily supply in her day bag while she's sightseeing.

I hope she has a nice vacation. :D