Keeping your medications close to you during air travel is important, whether you're taking a quick one-hour commuter flight or an international flight that includes a layover. The TSA has strict rules about what can and cannot fly with you, but medications are recognized as essential carry-on items that need to stay packed in your hand luggage. As long as your medications are labeled and packed correctly, you won't have a problem boarding with prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

Step 1.

Create a list of your prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Note the prescribing doctor, the dosage and how often you take them. This list can help you pack and ensure you don't forget anything.

Step 2.

Use carry-on luggage. Never pack your medicines in bags that you check because you don't want to run the risk of having those bags get lost or tampered with.

Step 3.

Copy all prescriptions written by your doctors, and keep those with the medications. This is especially important when you have a liquid medicine that exceeds the 3-ounce rule established by the TSA. Prescriptions will also explain your auto-injector or syringes you travel with.

Step 4.

Identify any controlled substances, such as oxycodone, that you have a prescription for. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends including a letter from your prescribing physician explaining any injectable medicines or controlled substances.

Step 5.

Keep your medicines in their original bottles or containers. This will easily identify them and prevent you from getting confused when it's time to take them.

Step 6.

Pack medicines that need to be refrigerated in an insulated bag. Try a small lunch bag to ensure those medications stay cool. Using a freezer pack in the bag is good for long flights.

Step 7.

Place all medications in a clear plastic bag so security and airline officials can see what you have. Keep this bag easily accessible so you can pull it out of your carry-on luggage when you go through the security checkpoint.

Step 8.

Bring water and snacks if you need to take your medication during the flight with food and water. The TSA prohibits bottled water to be taken past the checkpoint, but makes exceptions for people with medical conditions. You can also buy water before you board.

Things You Will Need
  • Plastic bags

  • Prescriptions

  • Medication list


Pack a little more medicine than you need for your trip, just in case you end up staying longer than you intended or you are stuck with a flight delay or cancellation.


Stay on schedule with any medications you need to take during your flight. The timing can get confusing, especially if you are crossing time zones, so set an alarm or other reminder when it's time to take something.