reader-travel-tip2Keep Prescription Drugs in Their Original Containers
Each Friday, we’re featuring a reader-submitted tip as our Travel Tip of the Day. This week’s tip comes from reader Rick S. who says:

“I am a pharmacist and recommend keeping OTC (over-the-counter) and prescription drugs in the original containers, especially when traveling outside of the US. This will positively identify you as the legal possessor of prescription drugs. Ideally, this should also be done when traveling within the US, but if not, the authorities could call your prescriber or pharmacy to verify the drugs were issued to you. Also, your pharmacy will provide you with a duplicate, labeled container at no charge upon your request.”

Always good to hear from the experts. Thanks, Rick!

Related: Travel Tip of the Day: Photograph Your Prescriptions & Travel App of the Week: GoodRx.



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10 Comments On "Reader Travel Tip of the Day: Keep Prescription Drugs in Their Original Containers"
  1. William Chinn|

    Sometimes this is not practical. Today a lot of retirees are traveling out of the country. I am personally on the last week of a 5 week out of the country excursion. Ask your Dad how many vitamins, supplements, Rxs he takes and whether his med plan offers 90 day refills. Then ask if he wants to lug the bottles with him when he travels with you and open each one daily or more to take them. When you try to travel as light as you can this is not possible. Instead most of us prepack our daily meds in plastic zip lock bags about 2 inches by 2 and grab one each day. If I have to worry about TSA questioning the bags as opposed to multiple Costco 500 count bottles in our carryon then they are worse than I suspected.

  2. Robert|

    Really? Maybe 10 years ago when Walgreens actually gave you small bottles. Now they are bigger than the 3-1-1 3 oz travel size for liquids. No thanks, I’ll just carry enough pills in small travel containers and the paper copy of my prescription.

  3. Zeke|

    Is there a law/regulation I can cite about the pharmacy providing a separate, smaller, labeled container? I’m required through my insurance plan to get my prescriptions filled via mail order–which results in huge bottles. I’ve asked numerous times to get smaller bottles and am told no. This has happened with three different providers.

    1. Rick S.|

      Having worked in mail order for years, I understand the problem. My suggestion is either peel a label off one of the large bottles and photocopy it. Get a small bottle from your local pharmacy (they may charge you a few cents for it) and tape the label on. State laws vary on this subject. Or your mail order customer service might be willing to mail you a label without a bottle. A call to your state’s board of pharmacy might provide answers, as well.

      1. Johnny Jet
        Johnny Jet|

        Thanks for the advice!

  4. Steve|

    I have containers for 4 weeks of prescriptions!

    I do have a photo of all my prescriptions on my phone to prove they are mine!

    1. Johnny Jet
      Johnny Jet|

      Smart man!

  5. william chinn|

    While I have the utmost respect for the job tsa is req’d to do, in this age where generics have replaced the initial Rx, do you expect tsa to match the med to the label? The generics look different from the manufacturers. Has anyone been questioned by tsa over 8 or 10 pills in 2×2 plastic bags in your carryon when you have a month of travel?

  6. Paul|

    There is no TSA requirement that prescription pills be left in their original containers.

    “TSA does not require passengers to have medications in prescription bottles, but states have individual laws regarding the labeling of prescription medication with which passengers need to comply.”

    That being said, there is a lot of confusing information regarding this subject because it then becomes regulated by individual states and/or countries (imagine how confusing it must be to foreign traveler that they can carry their pills in their own pill box it one state, but not another).

    Does that mean that I’m going to stop using a pillbox? Probably not.

    1. Johnny Jet
      Johnny Jet|

      No. But you could run into problems outside of the U.S.

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