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Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

How To Pack For Travel


You can usually purchase clothes at your destination if you forgot something, or you have needs you didn't anticipate. It may not be so easy to take care of your medical needs. Preparation is key.


Keep the following with your carry-on luggage:

  • At least a few days supply of your medications.
  • A face mask to prevent infection.
  • Medication for diarrhea, such as loperamide (Imodiumâ„¢). Diarrhea can be set off by a change in eating habits or tap water, even in the United States. Stool softener, in case of constipation.
  • Ask your physician if you should take an antibiotic such as ciprofloxacin (Ciproâ„¢) or ofloxacin (Floxinâ„¢) in case of intestinal infection.
  • Pain relievers.
  • Thermometer.
  • Unmedicated petroleum jelly and decongestant spray(to moisten mucous membranes in airplanes which helps prevent contacting air borne conditions such as colds or flus.
  • An all-purpose cold remedy.
  • Sleep aids if you're changing time zones.
  • Precautionary medications (for any of your dormant conditions that might flare up while you're away).
  • Antiseptic wipes.
  • Sun protection -- sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses and hat -- especially if your medications increase your sensitivity to the sun.
  • If you are traveling to a place where the water may be a problem for you, commercial iodine or chlorine tablets which can make tap water drinkable in an emergency. A small immersion heater with converter can be used to boil water.
  • Insect repellent and high potency cortisone cream for areas with heavy insect population.

Because of safety concerns, you cannot board an airplane with more than 3 ounces of liquid. If your medications are liquid and you need to carry more than 3 ounces on board, get a note from your doctor -- and be prepared for potential hassles in the airport. If you have questions, contact the Transportation Security or 866.289.9673.


Before you go, make two copies each of the following. Pack one set of the copies apart from the originals. Give the other set to a friend at home or at your office that you can call in an emergency.

  • Your tickets
  • Visa for other countries
  • Credit cards (including the number to call in case the cards are lost or stolen)
  • Reservation confirmations
  • Other important documents


Work under the assumption that you won't be able to get anything medical you may need from the moment you leave your front door until the moment you return home. Take a supply of all medications to cover the entire time you plan to be away plus a few extra days in case of an unforeseen complication or schedule change.

Keep medications in their original, labeled containers. Do not mix medications together to save space. It will save hassles if your luggage is inspected. (It couldn't hurt to also take copies of your prescriptions from the doctor if you can get them.)

Pack at least enough of your medical supplies in you carry-on bag to last a few days. This way you're covered if your bag that you're shipping is delayed or lost.

If you prefer not to carry all of your medication, send some ahead to your destination via traceable overnight mail.

  • If there are storage requirements with any of the drugs, advice the hotel about proper storage.
  • Call, fax or e mail the hotel to confirm their receipt and remind the hotel of proper storage before you leave. 

Take spare parts for any medical equipment you're traveling with, e.g. extra tubes or valves for an oxygen tank, an extra tire tube for a wheelchair.

If you travel with needles or prescribed narcotics, also travel with a letter from your doctor explaining the medical necessity. Keep the letter with your passport or other travel documents. It will make life easier at airport security, or when you go through customs.

ALWAYS have your doctor's name, telephone and fax number in your wallet, clearly marked.

On your mobile phone, add contact information for ICE ("In Case of Emergency.") Emergency personnel know to look under ICE for contact information.


  • For information about  travel, including setting a travel destination and traveling safely, click here.
  • If you are traveling outside of the United States, see Travel, Outside The United States.

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