Traveling with Medications

Although Celiac Disease is not treated with medications, many people may have other medical conditions that require them to take medications. Some people may even find they need to take several different medications for various problems.   It can be sometimes difficult and a little frustrating to find out information on what the regulations are for traveling with medications.   So, with a lot of research and personal experience, it is hoped that this will help when planning the next trip/adventure.

When traveling overseas it is important to take enough medications to last the entire trip as a gluten free equivalent may not be available.  It is important to remember that not all countries have the same medications and some may vary in strength or be packaged under a different brand name.   Also, being unable to speak the local language can be another barrier that may have to be overcome.

It's important to talk to your doctor and pharmacist to discuss what medication and vaccinations you may need for your trip. They can help you make sure that all are gluten free.

A letter from the Doctor is mandatory listing all the medications you require, how much you will be taking with you and that it's for personal use.  It is also advisable to state that your medical condition requires special dietary food.

Carry as Hand luggage

Where possible all medications should be carried as hand luggage; so if bags are lost (or delayed) you will still have the medications.   All prescription medications should be in the original packaging with the chemist label intact. The person's name on the medication must be the same as what is in your passport.   Don't try and save space and combine all the medications into a few containers.  It is not worth the hassle with customs.  Just think, as the trip goes on the less medication there will be and therefore more room available for shopping!!

Most airlines will advise to carry enough medications for the flight and a small amount until you are reunited with your bags.   I love that word “reunited  ' – maybe that could be four days later if your bags are lost.   Carry as hand luggage all medications that are essential  and pack the rest in your suitcase i.e. fish oils, multivitamins.

Medications that require refrigeration

If medications requires refrigeration, carry it in a small cooler bag on the plane. (Ice bricks wrapped in newspaper are useful to help regulate the temperature over longer flights. - test it before you go).    Most airlines are also happy to replenish your cooler bag with dry ice but will not refrigerate it for your on board.   Dry ice can be very tricky to be able to regulate the temperature.  You need to get a small piece of dry ice before you travel and test how long it stays cold for and at what temperature it maintains.   Otherwise, the medications may freeze if it is too cold.

Traveling with hypodermic needles

Things get a little more difficult when there is a requirement to carry hypodermic needles.   Firstly it must be proven there is a medical requirement to carry hypodermic needles as they are classified as prohibited items within an aircraft cabin.   This should be covered in the letter from your Doctor.    Declare all sharps at check in and screening points whilst in transit.

Arriving early at the airport

Airlines can not guarantee that there will be no problem at transit airports and screening areas.   All airlines have different policies and procedures, so it best to check with the airline directly prior to travel.  It is suggested that you arrive at the airport nice and early just in case there are any unexpected  problems or delays.   Tempers can get risen very quickly if you are stressed because you are running late.

It is also important to check with the embassy, mission or high commission of the country you are travelling to or through, that the medication is legal in that country.   For example: Panadeine Forte is considered a narcotic in some countries and if it is taken in, you could find yourself in all sorts of trouble - check prior to traveling.