Packing and planning for a trip outside of your home can be a bit challenging. Not only do you need to consider what to pack, toiletries you'll need, and plan out where you're going and what you'll do, but you'll also need to consider how to get your refrigerated medication to your destination without any issues.
There are tons of medications that need to be refrigerated in order to work correctly, including insulin, Ozempic, Mounjaro, Wegovy, Saxenda, Humira, Enbrel, eye drops, injections, antibiotic liquids, and some creams. However, packing them next to a bag of ice cubes and hoping for the best isn't the best solution. While it might seem nerve-wracking to travel with refrigerated medication, it doesn't have to be. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about traveling with your medication, including how to make sure it stays cold and doesn't spoil while you're on the go!
What Medications Need To Be Refrigerated?
Before preparing your medication to be refrigerated, it's essential to understand which medications need to be stored in a refrigerator and which can be carried on without any sort of special preparation. Luckily, the majority of drugs that are affected by storage will have labels on them showing you how they should be stored. The most common medications that need to be refrigerated include:
Insulin and other diabetes injectables
All stored and unopened insulin will need to be refrigerated and kept between 36-46 degrees Fahrenheit at all times even when you're traveling. You should never travel with your back-up insulin unrefrigerated as it can lose its potency and effectiveness.
If insulin has reached temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you'll need to dispose of the medication as it won't be good anymore. Other diabetes injectables like Ozempic, Victoza, Mounjaro, and Trulicity, also have specific storage temperature requirements.
Related article: Does Insulin Need to Be Refrigerated?
Rheumatoid arthritis medicines
There are a number of medications that can be taken to help reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation, but these medicines also need to be refrigerated. If you're traveling with any medication like this, you'll need to ensure that they stay at a temperature between 35.6 to 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit. In extreme conditions, it may be able to be stored at a maximum of 77 degrees Fahrenheit for a short period of time but should still be protected from the sun and used immediately.
If you're using growth hormones like Omnitrope, Nutropin, Humatrope, Norditropin, or Genotropin, then these medicines must be kept refrigerated most of the time. Like other medications, if the temperature rises too high, it may lose its effectiveness and won't do what it's supposed to do. After the first injection, you may be able to store it up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit for use within three weeks, sometimes less. However, this depends on the specific brand of growth hormones that you're using.
Glaucoma eye drops
There are a number of types of glaucoma eye drops that need to be refrigerated after being opened so they can stay potent and effective, like Latanoprost for example. If your drop is a multi-dose vial, you'll need to store it between 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit so it doesn't lose its effectiveness or become counterproductive.
The epinephrine that's contained in an EpiPen needs to be stored at room temperature, but the device should be kept between 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you're carrying your epinephrine around in a purse, pocket, car, etc., it may become too warm and won't work if needed.
Most Vaccines will need to be kept at a temperature between 36-46 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the duration of your trip. If they're exposed to higher temperatures, they may lose their potency and won't have any kind of effect when you really need them. To ensure that they stay cold and at the right temperature, you may want to put them in an insulated bag or TSA-approved refrigerator storage.
Other Medicines That Need To Stay At Fridge Temperature
There are other medications that will also need to be kept at fridge temperature, including Amivoig and Emgalty for migraines, Testosterone, and more. Penile injections for erectile dysfunction, like Trimix or Caverject, also require cold temperature storage.
Always check the back of your medications or consult with your pharmacist to ensure that you're storing your medicine correctly.
How To Transport Medicine That Needs To Be Refrigerated?
Whether you're flying on a plane, taking a cruise ship to an island getaway, or going on a road trip across the country - it's essential that your medication stays cold and doesn't spoil. If you're traveling with refrigerated medicine, follow these steps to ensure that you can transport your medicine easily and suitably:
Related article: How to Travel With Refrigerated Medications?
Keep your medicine in the shade
One of the most important things you can do is ensure your medications stay in the shade as much as possible. In addition, if you're carrying a personal item, keep it protected from the sun either by concealing it within an insulated bag or using a cooler that's designed to keep items cool even when in the hot sun.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
Whether you're carrying your medication in a purse, backpack, briefcase, etc., it's essential to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible and keep the medicine out of the sun's rays. Even if you think you'll be returning inside soon enough, take precautions to ensure that your medication is stored out of the sun regardless.
Use A Thermometer To Keep Track Of the Temperature
If you have to travel with refrigerated medications, keeping track of the temperature inside your bag is essential. If it's too warm, don't store the medicine there. The last thing you want to do is damage or ruin your medication because of heat exposure. Using a thermometer can help ensure that you know when to take out your medicine and when to put it away in a cooler until the cool temperatures return again.
Avoid Freezing your Medicines
If you have a case filled with ice packs, avoid placing the medication directly on top of the ice. Even though it can help keep things cool in your storage container, most medications that need to be refrigerated don't respond well to direct contact with the ice as it can lead to the medicine becoming too cold and will be ineffective when you need it. For example, insulin that has frozen isn’t safe for use anymore, even if it has thawed afterwards. The same goes for most medicines.
Related article: How to Keep Insulin Cool While Traveling?
Pack Your Drugs properly
Suppose you're going to be traveling via airplane. In that case, it's essential that you take precautions before packing your medication, such as ensuring that it's placed in a container where it won't move around too much, checking to make sure camps and lids are secured tightly and in an appropriate fashion and that you're following all regulations of the method of transportation you're using.
Related article: How Long Can Refrigerated Drugs be Left Out?
Don't Take Medications Out Of Original Packaging
Medications that need to stay refrigerated should always remain in their original packaging, so you don't damage them in any way and you don’t have any problems with TSA or border custom agents. Legally, any medication you’re traveling with must be properly labelled and easily identifiable.
Besides, trying to take them out of the original box, plastic casing, or packet can lead to issues when it comes time to use the medication because this may cause the treatment itself or how it's stored to be compromised.
Related article: How to Ship Insulin and Other Refrigerated Drugs?
How To Keep Medicine Cold On The Plane?
If you're traveling by airplane, it's essential that you take the time to learn how to keep your medication cold while on a plane. Even if you think you can get away with carrying a personal item such as a purse or briefcase, it's better to be safe than sorry by reading all of the following steps before going on your next trip.
TSA Regulations About Refrigerated Medicines
The first step you want to take is to familiarize yourself with TSA regulations about traveling with refrigerated medicines. Knowing the guidelines ahead of time can save you a lot of stress on your trip, so you don't have to worry about being questioned or getting into trouble for not following all rules and regulations before leaving home. TSA guidelines state:
- You can bring as much medication as you need as long as it's appropriately screened.
- You'll want to ensure that you're using the proper containers to store your medicines. Ziploc bags are not necessary.
- You won't need prescription bottle but you will need to have them labeled correctly so they can easily be identified.
Check Requirements Of Other Countries
If you are planning to travel with refrigerated medicines, it is advised that you check the rules of the country that you are visiting to make sure this will not be a problem for customs/immigration officials. While this is typically not an issue for standard medications, you must follow all the destination country rules before leaving to avoid unnecessary problems at border crossings.
Keep Your Medicines In Their Original Containers
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is repackaging your medical items. If you want to avoid confusion in any way, shape, or form, keep them in their original containers and label them accordingly. This makes it easy for staff to identify what each container contains without wasting too much time.
Use A TSA-Approved Medicine Cooler
While you might have assumed that you could pack a cooler with ice cubes and call it a day, this is not the case anymore. Instead, you'll need to ensure that you're using a TSA-Approved Cooler that is adequately insulated so that the cold temperature doesn't escape the container. If you've only got a plain cooler without any special insulation, it's probably best to find another way to store your medication for this trip.
Avoid Packing Your Medicine In Your Checked Luggage
Even though you might think that packing your medication in your checked luggage is a good idea, it's actually not recommended. Since the temperature changes between departure and arrival (and even during one-stop) can cause temperature fluctuations to occur within checked luggage, you'll want to take out any medications before checking them as it will be safer for them if something happens to the bags. This also ensures that you're able to access your medicines at any time without delay.
Traveling with your refrigerated medicine doesn't have to be a pain. With the right tools at your disposal, it's easy to ensure that your medicine stays cool and fresh no matter where you're headed. Cheaper than buying multiple travel coolers for every trip, investing in small refrigerator options will ensure that you're able to chill out on the road.
For more resources and plenty of options for medication coolers, check out 4 All Family, your one-stop source for all types of medication travel and transportation equipment.