Pack Your Meds

December 6, 2017

Mark L. Friedman, MD, FACEP, FACP

Vacation—a single word that brings with it the excitement of scenery change, a break from the daily grind, and the promise of a new adventure. Whether you’re traveling by road, sea, or air, getting away can be a therapeutic respite from your normal routine. In 2015, United States residents took 1.7 billion trips for leisure. Traveling for leisure can help you relax, reduce stress, and recharge your metaphorical battery. No matter where you travel, the destination’s activities should include your regular medication routine.

Make Your Medication Your Perfect Travel Companion

According to the FDA, poor medication adherence can interfere with the ability to treat many diseases, lead to greater complications from the illness and a lower quality of life for patients. Medication adherence, or the lack of it, is a notable problem. A survey by the National Community Pharmacy Association states that 49% of respondents admitted to forgetting to take prescribed medicine. The cost of forgetfulness is staggering--it is estimated between 100 and 300 billion of avoidable healthcare costs are attributed to nonadherence annually.

How to Vacation with Your Meds, Not From Them

  • Don’t break from routine. When it comes to remember to take your meds, set and keep a routine. Think of developing a pattern of association. If you take a medication when brushing your teeth at home, adhere to that same pattern on the road. Relying on a routine can ease stress--removing the fear of forgetting by associating your medicine with an already ingrained habit. After all, you're getting away to reduce stress in your life right?
  • Set reminders. Today there is an App for everything. An app that alerts you it’s time to take your meds is only a click away. Some examples are Dosecast, MyMeds,  Medi-Prompt, RxmindMe and MedMory. Setting reminders on your smart phone or simply writing it in your travel agenda can be helpful, as well.
  • If flying, keep your medications with you. Pack your meds in a carry-on bag that will be with you at all times. What happens when you land in Austin and your checked bags are on the way to Boston? Uh oh. Don’t run the risk of being separated from your meds--keep them with you!
  • Take more medication than you think you will use/need. Trips can extend unexpectedly, so pack extra meds to avoid being caught in short supply.
  • Store medications appropriately. Consider the conditional requirements of your medications when you travel. If the bottle says, “Avoid light and store in a cool, dry place.” don’t stash it in the beating sun on a long car trip. If you will be traveling in climate extremes consider, packing your meds in a temperature controlled container so potency isn’t compromised.

Vacations should be good for the heart and soul, and with these tips, you can help ensure they vacations aren’t harmful to your physical health. If, however, you find yourself in short supply or without a necessary medication, First Stop Health may be able to help. If appropriate, doctors can prescribe short-term refills for certain medications with one easy phone call from your hotel (or your cousin’s house, or wherever your travels take you). So if you’re a First Stop Health member, perhaps the most important thing to keep handy on your travels next to your medication is our phone number in the event you need to speak with a doctor.

Maintain taking your meds, rest easy, and happy traveling!

Originally published Dec 6, 2017 1:00:00 PM.