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Medications vs vitamins/supplements

We are working on going on our first overseas trip. While I understand that prescription medications need to be in their original containers with the appropriate labeling, what are the rules about OTC vitamins and supplements? Bringing all the bottles for the items I take will take up a lot of space and weight in my luggage.

Posted by
21985 posts

I have no idea whether it is a technical violation of local laws, but I package my vitamins in the most efficient bottles I can find. Other folks move pills to zip-lock baggies. I don't do that because I'm a bit worried about humidity over the course of a long trip.

Since it is very rare for someone in Europe to look inside a traveler's suitcase (assuming the traveler isn't carrying prohibited food products that can be smelled), I don't think we actually know what might be said about the packaging of pills.

Don't tell anyone, but I even mix three prescription meds in the same bottle, with all three labels stuck on the outside.

Posted by
75 posts

I take Rx meds in their original container, making sure none of them are "out of date." I cut out the Rx label from the boxes for my inhaler and acne cream and put with other Rx items. I put OTC items in a pill organizer, mine holds 6 weeks worth of vitamins, etc. I've visited 50+ countries and never had any problems with customs.

Posted by
1356 posts

I have carried prescriptions overseas for years in weekly pill dispenser cases. No label, no nothing and never have had trouble. I also never have heard directly of anyone having any trouble.

I pack them to take the least room. Carry on space is precious.

Posted by
1801 posts

I put prescriptions and otc pills in tiny ziplock bags and make labels for them. I have a list of all my meds in my trip folder with prescription labels attached, along with my glasses prescription. I thought I’d be clever this trip and bought little colored jars at Walmart. Cute, color coded but they took double the room in my med bag. So I went back to the baggies. The advantage of test packing...

Edited to add: I carry fairly heavy duty antibiotics in the original container. Also Advil and Advil Migraine are in their original containers since I carry a lot. I also carry a small container of mixed drugs in my purse for day use.

Posted by
1042 posts

Hi, heritage_trail2019,

Put all of your vitamins and supplements in one container. Pack only what you think you'll need for the time you're away. Once they're done, discard or recycle the container to make room for the souvenirs that you've picked up along the way. If you run short, there are Holland & Barrett and Vitamin Shop stores all over Scotland (and I presume England, too).

Put the container with your vitamins in the suitcase that goes in the hold of the plane. If you think that they'll rattle around in the container, stick some tissues in there to keep them from rattling around.

Have a good holiday!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
123 posts

We’ve never had any problems with carry on; just placed with labels in a zip lock.

I didn’t bring any more OTC or vitamins on first trip because I forgot them at house in USA. Was pleasantly surprised and impressed by selection in many stores on Princes Street (Boots and I am drawing blank on other store). But soon discovered in New Town area the Coops and other small shops had better selection than stores in USA.

Actually find better selection and quality in Edinburgh than in States.

Good luck!

Posted by
3707 posts

In order to save space and weight we do this. The pharmacist prints extra labels for us. We put each medication in a freezer zip lock and put a label on it. We also take the original data sheet that comes with the RX to show that it is for us. We do basically the same for OTC vitamins and such.

There are some state laws that require prescription meds to be in original containers but they are rarely enforced. I only remember reading about one case in the last 20 years. Unless I'm mistaken, there aren't any federal requirements that they be in original containers.

We've never had a problem anywhere in Europe or the U.S. doing it this way. Of course, there aren't any guarantees about anything anymore.

Having said all that, if you are taking some really high powered narcotic type prescription you might want to consider leaving that in the original container.

Oh, and don't forget to take some extras in case some are dropped, lost, and etc.

Posted by
5748 posts

As long as you know what pill is what, mixing hasn't been a problem. Airport Security is more concerned about excess amounts of liquids and sharp objects, and I've combined both prescription pills and over-the-counter supplements in bottles on many trips. The bottles or their rattling contents have never been inspected or opened, and have never been questioned. Maybe not the "right" way to do it, and I'd have to plead my case if someone wanted to confiscate my Rx pills, but they're not anything I'm smuggling or planning to deal out in the street, and it hasn't been a problem (yet). Saving space and weight has been the biggest concern lately, so I've consolidated as much as possible, still knowing what medication(s)/supplement(s) was in each bottle.

Posted by
8889 posts

While I understand that prescription medications need to be in their original containers with the appropriate labeling

Not sure that is the case. At least for customs in your country of arrival (the UK).
If you are stopped by customs (big "if", it is a random stop only, 95%+ are not stopped) they are only interested in illegal substances. If what you have looks like normal medicines, and even better if you have a list, they will ignore them.