Packing Meds Abroad?

Mar 30th, 2015, 07:49 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 29
Packing Meds Abroad?

Hello. I'm traveling with my mom to Spain for 10 days in May. I've never had a problem with packing meds (Rx or OTC) when traveling to Europe, but she takes quite a few more supplements than I do, and the bottles are quite large. We'd like to avoid checking a bag for this trip.

This may be a rhetorical question, but I told her I'd investigate. Should she worry about any meds, even OTC, being confiscated by airport security/customs?

Should she consider any "special packing," or will a daily pill organizer suffice? We're talking about calcium supplements, glucosamine, etc.

hollywoodhtx is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 07:58 AM
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I have had no problem re packing vitamins into plastic baggies, and putting them in my carry-on. For 10 days there is no reason to lug bottles with 250 pills inside all over Europe. Of course you do have to know what they are sans bottle. No one has ever asked.
socaltraveler is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 08:02 AM
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In theory, customs officials could ask you what they are, and, if they're not satisfied, they could be confiscated. If they're not prescribed, you might want to take photos of the bottles, and carry them with you.
bvlenci is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 08:03 AM
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Ditto socaltraveler. I've taken OTC and prescription pills and never had anyone even ask in either a US or European airport. I have no experience with liquid meds over 3 ounces, though.
jent103 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 08:15 AM
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make sure you know the generic names of any medicines your mother is taking, just in case she needs to see a doctor. Medicine names vary around the world.
Her doctor should be able to give here a medical passport with all the names of the prescription drugs she is taking.
Putting the tablets into a pill organiser makes most sense, but pack a day or two extra of essential ones in case of delays.
hetismij2 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 08:19 AM
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Ditto the above advice.

My wife was a pharmacist for nearly 40 years and by letter of the law RX's should be in the RX bottle with label, but no problem with OTC supplements.
Nelson is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 08:51 AM
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Supplements or prescription drugs can be purchased once you arrive if you need more. Just take the prescription with you and hand it to the pharmacist. Besides, the cost is quite a bit less. You might even want to stock up before heading home.
Robert2533 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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We travel with a lot of meds for six weeks at time. We always put them in plastic baggies.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 09:59 AM
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Relax. Customs agents are not going to question small amounts of medications obviously packed for personal use. They are, however, on the lookout for large amounts of stuff that might be intended for the drug trade. If your Mom's meds come in the form of a white powder packed in kilo sized bricks she might have problems, but otherwise she need not concern herself, IMO.
nukesafe is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 10:09 AM
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It's a good idea to have the generic names of the drugs handy.
I think it is more likely that you or your mom may forget or lose one of the drugs than get them confiscated. The rule of thumb is personal supply. If you plan to stay 3 days in Spain, your personal supply is smaller than for 3 months.
Anyway, just keep in mind that also OTC drugs are sold in pharmacies (farmacia) only. IME (and I do have some), pharmacists are very helpful in Spain, and especially in the major tourist hubs are used to foreign tourists who don't know the Spanish equivalent to their home brand. Plus I found all the OTC medication I needed not expensive.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 10:21 AM
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I bring everything, RX and OTC, with me. I put the larger OTC stuff--i.e., flaxseed oil and fish oil capsules (2 of each per day) in a bigger container because the original bottles are large and take up too much room. I fill my daily pill containers so that I have enough pills allotted for a week.

I also bring a container of tylenol with codeine, as I have some pain when I walk too much, and it takes away the pain so that I can keep going. Otherwise I'd have to go back to the hotel and lie down for the rest of the day. I keep it in my purse so that it doesn't disappear from my checked luggage.

I take levothyroxin, colchicine, and celebrex--also vitamins, calcium and vitamin D in my carry-on. I've never been questioned about any of my medications, but maybe because I have white hair. The TSA folks probably think, "Geez, this old gal needs everything she can take."
Pegontheroad is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 10:23 AM
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Oops! That should be 2 of each 2x a day.

I have some large celebrex containers that I put my fish oil and flaxseed oil capsules in. If I didn't have those I'd probably use a zippable sandwich bag.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 11:04 AM
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In the European countries I know, prescription medicines are not labeled with the patient's name, nor are they sold in bottles, so that's not relevant for travel in Europe.

I don't know about Spain, but in Italy, prescriptions medicines are much, much cheaper in Europe than in the US. My daughter had to fill a prescription here last year, paying the full price because she's not eligible for the Italian health service. The cost was about half of what her co-pay is in the US. However, for over-the-counter medicines and supplements, the cost is much lower in the US. We stock up on things like omega-3 capsules and ibuprofen when we're in the US.
bvlenci is offline  
Apr 7th, 2015, 08:00 AM
Original Poster
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Thanks, everyone, for all the replies. They are as I expected, but it's nice to get opinions OUTSIDE the family. I will send these to mom for her reference.
hollywoodhtx is offline  
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