Travelling with medication
Article Written by edie_w (Sharon)

Being on long term or short term medication should be no impediment to having a fabulous holiday in Orlando. All you need is a little advance planning.

All medication should be carried in your hand luggage. It’s legal to put it in the hold, but inadvisable – what if your luggage goes missing? And in any case you may need your medication during the flight.
Special note: from 10-14 August 2006 special measures were put into place for a few days restricting cabin baggage to the bare minumum. Only essential medication (including kit like blood glucose meters) for the flight was permitted. It is reasonable to assume that if there is a similar threat in the future these same measures will be put into place again and travellers will have to put medication not required for the flight into checked luggage. At the time of writing (15 August 06) this requirement has been relaxed and medications are permitted in hand baggage.

Non-prescription medicines

If you are taking over-the-counter medicines or food supplements, make sure they are in their original container. You really don’t want to have to explain to those nice customs and security men what those little white tablets are!

Special note: owing to the additional security measures at the time of writing (15 August 06) you are unlikely to be allowed to take liquid medicines like Calpol or Gaviscon in hand luggage unless they are prescribed. Either ask your GP for a prescription or ask your pharmacist for an alternative e.g. soluble children’s paracetamol instead of Calpol.

Prescription medicines

If you need to take prescription medicines you should

1. Take your printed prescription with you. If you don’t have one of these you should

*carry with you a list of all the medication you take, including doses. Make sure you have listed the generic (drug) name, not just the brand name.
*carry a doctor’s note. (This is especially important if you have a great deal of paraphernalia or are attached to a pump or syringe driver which cannot be separated from you to go thought the security machines.)

2. Keep the medicine in its original container. Many people use dosette boxes without any problem but be prepared for inconvenience if you use one. Maybe take your dosette box empty and fill it in the safety of your hotel room or Villa.

This is what the US Embassy website has to say on the subject of medicines:

"A traveler requiring medicines containing habit-forming drugs or narcotics (e.g. cough medicine, diuretics, heart drugs, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, depressants, stimulants, etc.) should:
• Have all drugs, medicines, and similar products properly identified;
• Carry only the quantity that might normally be used by an individual having a health problem requiring such drugs or medicine:
• Have either a prescription or written statement from your personal physician that the medicine is being used under a doctor's direction and is necessary for your physical well-being while traveling.”

I think their definition of “habit forming drugs or narcotics” is rather broad, but when in Rome…..


Some of you will need to take sharps on board the aircraft. As sharps are generally prohibited you must take a doctor’s letter with you. The “small print” on most airlines’ websites requires this, and while many people travel without difficulty, at least one diabetic DIBBer has been very thankful she took a Dr’s letter.

ClareH wrote:
"In December [2005] I was questioned for over 30 minutes in Orlando, even though I had a letter from my hospital consultant explaining why I needed everything I was carrying - goodness knows what would have happened if I didn't have that letter."
You can get your letter from your GP who will probably charge you a fee, or even better ask at your hospital clinic who will probably supply one for free.

Unless you only carry needles for emergencies, you will probably need to arrange disposal of the sharps once you are in Orlando. Disney hotels can arrange for sharps boxes to be supplied and removed. If you are staying in a villa or some of the non-Disney hotels you will need to make your own arrangements. In Osceola and Orange Counties you can take your sharps bin to any fire station, or if you are unsure ask in a pharmacy (e.g. Walgreens) for advice.

Fridge items

If you need to store your medicines in a fridge, your hotel can usually arrange this for you. At Deluxe and Moderate Disney hotels the fridges are free if you need to store medication. In others you may be charged about $10 per night, or you can arrange your own fridge through a hire company. Some DIBBers have even bought them from Walmart!

What should I do if I lose my medicines?

If an accident has befallen your medication (lost, stolen or dropped in the pool….) you will need your prescription or doctor’s letter to help the doctor at the nearest medical centre.

You might consider consulting a pharmacist before going to a medical centre. If you have your prescription (or even the remains of the meds) the pharmacist might be able to supply the medication to you at a lower cost and much more quickly. Some medicines which are prescription-only in the UK are available over-the-counter in the USA. In some instances, and at his/her discretion, the pharmacist may be able to give a short term supply (up to 72 hours) of prescription-only medication.

Buying medicines in the USA

Many medicines are much cheaper in the US than they are in the UK, so you may be considering stocking up. Or you may just have run out of your favourite general sale list painkiller.

Finding a equivalent

Some common requirements:

Ibuprofen: In the USA you will easily find ibuprofen tablets. You will also find ibuprofen suspension for children.

Aspirin: Again, aspirin is widely available. You will find aspirin for children – however in the UK aspirin is not recommended for children under 16 because of a rare but serious complication.

Paracetamol: You will not find any paracetamol, because the USA name for it is acetaminophen. Be aware that the standard acetaminophen tablets are 350mg, with the 500mg tablet being labelled “Extra” or similar. In the UK, 500mg tablets are the only available strength. You can also buy acetaminophen suspension (Calpol, as we know it) for children.

You will not find any codeine-containing medications.

As always, if in doubt, ask the pharmacist. They usually have a proper counselling area where you can speak in private if your query is embarrassing.

Saving the pennies

As is the case in the UK, you can buy generic un-branded medicines at around a quarter of the cost of the branded versions (e.g. Tylenol). Tylenol Extra is exactly the same thing as Tesco paracetamol (500mg) and Publix’s acetaminophen 500mg. Don’t be fooled by fancy packaging and advertisements. Save a couple of dollars and buy more ice cream!

Buying in bulk?

Undoubtedly there are savings to be made buy buying a huge pot of ibuprofen or acetaminophen to last you until your next trip to the USA. As far as I can tell from extensive searching this is an acceptable practice provided the medicines are genuinely for your own use.

Just remember that general sale list pack sizes in the UK are restricted for safety reasons. The idea is that people will have smaller stocks in their home so the risk of accidental overdose is reduced. So only buy bulk quantities if you know you can store them safely.

Have a great trip!
Page created by Stu on 29-07-2010 17:14.
+ Last editted by Trace on 26-08-2014 16:21. View History

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