Traveling With Pills On Flights

Do you worry about traveling with pills today with all of the security requirements, the body scans, the pat downs? You hear about the plastic bags you need to fit your liquids in for your carry-on bags, but what about pills and medications?

Don’t worry…. you can take your pills and other medications with you in your carry-on luggage, and you don’t have to worry about the plastic bag.

Pills are not liquids and do not need to go in your zip-top plastic bag. When you are traveling with pills, they should ALWAYS go in your carry-on, not in your checked luggage so you’re sure to have them with you.

In the U.S. the TSA says, “Non-liquid or gel medications of all kinds such as solid pills or inhalers are allowed through the security checkpoint once they have been screened. We recommend, but do not require, that your medications be labeled to assist with the screening process.” Airport security checks have been trying to “harmonize” their regulations for the last few years, so if you follow the rules you find in you county’s security website, you should be OK.

We generally dump all of our pills together into one container each, and we have never had a problem. We do carry copies of our prescriptions. That’s a good idea for a couple of reasons. First it provides some tangible information about the pills you are taking, and second if you lose your pills or you are delayed in your travels and need more, you may be able to get them with that prescription.

You will probably not have problems with security screenings on domestic flights or leaving a country. You are more apt to run into problems with customs if you are carrying large quantities of unmarked pills. If you are traveling with a “reasonable number” of pills, you shouldn’t have problems here either.

We haven’t…. except for the time, years ago, in Africa when an overzealous customs agent wanted to know what kind of medication was in our “Lifesaver” candies.

What about liquid medications?

Here the TSA says liquid medications (and baby formula) “are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint.” This includes all prescriptions and over the counter medications including petroleum jelly, eye drops, and saline solution for medical purposes.

There is lots of information floating around on the internet about the best way to carry your pills. If you absolutely, positively want to avoid problems, carry them in the original containers… even over the counter pills like aspirin. Prescription medications should have the pharmacy label with your name on them.

Whether you choose to use a pill organizer, dump your pills all together like we do, or carry them in their individual original containers, traveling with pills shouldn’t be a problem if you travel with a reasonable amount.

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