Back in 2017, the U.S. State Department tweeted a great tip. “Cruising soon? Delays can happen at sea, so have an extra week of medications with you just in case.” That’s solid advice but I think we can all agree that these days, this nugget of information shouldn’t just be restricted to cruising and the recommendation needs to be doubled. RELATED: 5 Tips For Traveling With Medications

One thing the pandemic taught us is that anything can happen at any time and it’s better to be safe than sorry … or left scrambling.

A few years ago, a reader named JoAnn submitted this travel tip: “I always pack two days of extra meds in case of a delay. Before a trip to Cancun, I filled my spare med container with a two-week supply, even though our trip was 10 days. We had to overnight in Denver at the beautiful Westin airport hotel, and I somehow left my meds in the hotel and didn’t realize it until we got to Cancun. Fortunately, I had packed enough for two weeks in my extra med container so it was fine. This time I did it by accident, but I will always pack a lot of extra in the future.”

Warning: These Common Over-the-Counter Drugs Are Illegal in Some Countries

Two extra days is better than none and should be the minimum but two extra weeks is ideal.

I was reminded of this advice last week when my sister Carol, who had flown to Connecticut from Florida to see our ailing father, ran out of her medication. We thought our dad had a couple of months left to live so she was only planning to go for the weekend. But when my dad took a turn for the worse and the hospice nurse advised Carol to postpone her flight home by a few days, she was caught off guard.

Normally, if you’re traveling domestically, you can just call your doctor and have them call in a prescription to a local pharmacy or if you get your prescriptions filled at a national chain like CVS, you can easily get refills transferred.

But Carol ran out of refills and she had just changed health insurance providers so she was in between doctors. You can’t call a new doctor and ask them to fill a prescription without seeing you and getting a doctor’s appointment on the road is not always easy.

Traveling internationally makes this advice even more imperative since it’s much more difficult to get a script filled. I learned this the hard way 9 years ago while traveling with my dad in Europe.

He was 85 at the time and I took him as my guest on a European cruise. I cashed in a ton of miles so he could fly business class to meet me in Spain. I gave him clear instructions to make sure he packed everything he needed like his reading glasses (and an extra pair), CPAP machine, hearing aid and its charger and, of course, his medications.

Well, wouldn’t you know it … when I met him in our hotel room in Barcelona, he said, “Guess what?” with a big guilty smile on his face. “I forgot my pills!” My stomach dropped. He was on about four different types of medications and the ship was leaving in the morning for a small town in France. There wasn’t enough time to get anything FedEx-ed and the pharmacies were closed.

My dad had a very laidback attitude, saying, “Don’t worry, we will find a pharmacy.” I thought he was crazy and that I would be shipping him home in a body bag but fortunately, he was right.

We walked into a small pharmacy in the coastal town of Sete, France and the pharmacist not only spoke perfect English, she did some research to find the translations and filled his scripts. And as an added bonus, it was (a lot) cheaper than what it costs in the USA.

But not everyone has my dad’s luck so the moral of this story is to be prepared for the unexpected and always pack extra medications.


Want more travel news, tips and deals? Sign up here for Johnny Jet’s Daily Travel Tip newsletter! Just fill in your email address and check the Daily Travel Tip box—and you’ll have Johnny’s best tips, straight to your inbox each day!

3 Comments On "Why You Should Always Pack Extra of This When You're Traveling"
  1. Susan Morse|

    OH, just as I start to type, a notice comes over my phone about an earthquake 6.2 at Port Mcneill, 🍁 Canada. DROP COVER HOLD ON.

    Each morning when I see your dad’s photo on the Tip of the Day, I smile and am glad you still have posted the photo of the two. Over the past five years +,
    I enjoyed reading about your relationship and dedication to one another. I know you will carry with you the sadness of his loss. I rejoice in knowing the great memories will outlast the sadness. You had an enviable father/son relationship ❣️

  2. Martha|

    As a backup to your backup, keep a photo of all your medication labels, including dosage and instructions, on your phone. A refill or replacement will be easier, if needed.

  3. Anonymous|

    Great idea!!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *