Medications to Take Along

You’re excited; the trip you’ve been planning for the past year is finally here! It is time to pack, and there are some key points that are important to remember when packing prescription and non-prescription medication.

First and foremost, it is imperative that you do NOT pack your medications in checked luggage. Unfortunately the airlines can send your suitcase to Nevada while you are traveling to Florida! Keeping your medications in your carry-on will help ensure that you don’t have to go through the stress of trying to replace important medication during your trip.

Second, if you have a history of medical issues, it is recommended that your doctor provide you with a letter that includes a brief medical history describing your medical condition and listing your prescriptions. Depending on the type of medication you are taking, if you are traveling overseas, you might want to check with that country’s embassy to make sure that your medication is not considered an illegal narcotic. The Department of State has a listing of foreign embassies listed on their website at:

Third, don’t forget to pack the aspirin or Tylenol, an antacid (for that unexpectedly spicy meal), antihistamine, and a small first aid kit so that you are always prepared for the unexpected.

You may want to consider taking extra medication, just in case your trip is extended unexpectedly for a day or two. Generally you should keep any prescription medication in its original container and it should have your name on it. If the medication happens to be liquid and in a container that is more than 3 ounces, you need to advise the TSA agent that it is a prescription. The TSA is constantly changing its requirements, so it is always good to check on their website at Regarding percription liquid medications and other medical liquids, the TSA website, as of January 24, 2010, posted the following rules:

We are continuing to permit prescription liquid medications and other liquids needed by persons with disabilities and medical conditions. This includes:
  • All prescription and over-the-counter medications (liquids, gels, and aerosols) including petroleum jelly, eye drops, and saline solution for medical purposes;
  • Liquids including water, juice, or liquid nutrition or gels for passengers with a disability or medical condition;
  • Life-support and life-sustaining liquids such as bone marrow, blood products, and transplant organs;
  • Items used to augment the body for medical or cosmetic reasons such as mastectomy products, prosthetic breasts, bras or shells containing gels, saline solution, or other liquids; and,
  • Gels or frozen liquids needed to cool disability or medically related items used by persons with disabilities or medical conditions. However, if the liquid medications are in volumes larger than 3.4 ounces (100ml) each, they may not be placed in the quart-size bag and must be declared to the Transportation Security Officer. A declaration can be made verbally, in writing, or by a person's companion, caregiver, interpreter, or family member or to the TSA Agent. Declared liquid medications and other liquids for disabilities and medical conditions must be kept separate from all other property submitted for x-ray screening.

If you have a question about being able to carry on your specific medication, check with the airline or your travel agent for assistance. You can call TSA's Call Center at 1-866-289-9673 or send an email to To be knowledgeable is much better than being surprised when you are “pulled aside” at the airport going through security.

This will help you to have a fun-filled vacation filled with wonderful memories, instead of the hassles of trying to replace your prescriptions!


Sheri Machat
Senior Vice President of MH Ross Travel Insurance Services. She joined the company in 1980 and has made a career of combining the two things she is most passionate about: people and travel.