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Traveling with Medications: Everything You Need to Know

How to safely travel with medications so you land at your race destination—not in jail.

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Modern travel can be complicated. Do chamois cream or GU count as liquids? (Keep it all under 3 ounces and you’re safe.) Are your CO2 cartridges banned? (Up to four, checked bags only.) Medication? It’s complicated. Here’s a handy guide for traveling with medications to keep your journeys smooth and fine-free.

Traveling with OTC Medications

First, if in doubt and the medications are over-the-counter, simply save yourself the potential trouble and buy them upon arrival. In the event that you plan on filling a prescription or may run out of meds while traveling, ask your doctor to write each script on a separate form, as some pharmacies won’t honor a single prescription if it is listed on a multi-prescription form.

If, however, you need to travel with your meds, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recommends but doesn’t require that passengers carry supporting documentation, including a doctor’s prescription and contact info. They also recommend making sure it’s easy for officials to connect you with the drug you are transporting. Best practice is to have the name on the prescription label match the name on your boarding pass.

Traveling with RX Medications

Pack as little of the medication as you need for the planned length of your trip. The medications, including vitamins and supplements, should be in their original packages and marked in a clear plastic bag in your carry on. Allow for extra time if you are packing medications, especially aerosols, because they’ll need to be screened by X-ray. Upon request, you may have your medications inspected by a security officer instead of X-rayed.


If traveling overseas, be aware that certain types of prescriptions and even over-the-counter drugs are illegal in some countries. For example, Japan is highly restrictive when it comes to Adderall and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), and the United Arab Emirates is tight about bans on narcotics, sedatives, and amphetamines. When in doubt, check with the embassies of nations through which you’ll be traveling, especially because there is currently no centralized list of which countries allow which drugs.

Traveling with CBD

The new hot topic for travel is the interstate or international transport of cannabidiol (CBD) products. TSA’s regional representative Carrie Harmon was quite clear: That’s a no-no. “Possession of marijuana- and cannabis-infused products, such as CBD oil, is illegal under federal law. TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and cannabis-infused products.”

And don’t think your hemp-derived CBD product is safe from the TSA. Although hemp has been removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the TSA makes no distinction between hemp and marijuana. Because the agency’s main focus is security and detecting threats, its officers are not specifically honing in on marijuana, other drugs, hemp, or CBD products. That said, if they find a substance that appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product during security screening, they will refer the matter to law enforcement.

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