How to travel with prescription medication


The Transportation Security Administration‘s (TSA) ever-changing rules can make it difficult for travelers to know what is permitted in carry-on bags, particularly if you don’t travel frequently. Generally, my motto is “when in doubt, leave it out” of your carry-on, but that isn’t a good idea for essential medications. You can’t risk packing necessary prescriptions in checked bags in case your bags are delayed or lost.

All prescription medications are permitted in carry-on bags, even those in liquid or gel form. Associated supplies such as syringes, disposal containers, and the like are also allowed once they have been screened by security.

Medications, particularly sizeable pill bottles, can eat up precious carry-on space. The TSA recommends having the same name on prescription labels and boarding pass, but it isn’t a requirement, so you can pack a small day-of-the-week pill organizer rather than several bulky bottles. Most drug stores carry organizers for less than $5. If you prefer to bring entire bottles of pills, a multiple-bottle storage case can keep the bottles together in your bag.

The TSA encourages travelers to bring “supporting documentation” such as a doctor’s note explaining medication needs. Additional documentation isn’t necessary, though it may prove helpful if you encounter an overzealous TSA agent.

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