What to Do If You Forget or Lose Your Prescription on Vacation

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Say you're traveling and forgot to get a prescription filled before you left home. Maybe you left your medication at home. Or perhaps you put your medication in your luggage and your luggage got lost. If you're in the United States, it should not be much of a problem. If you're traveling abroad, it could be more of one.

Meeting Medication Needs on the Road

If you're away from home but still in the United States, call your doctor or your pharmacy. They can call in a prescription to a pharmacy where you are.

Of course, the best way to keep from having to make this call is to plan ahead. Here are some tips for travel in or outside the United States:

  • Fill your prescriptions before you go. Bring enough medicine to last your whole trip plus a couple of extra days in case of travel delays.

  • Copy your prescriptions and keep a copy with you.
  • Know the generic names of all your prescriptions.
  • Carry a letter from your doctor describing all your medical conditions and the medications you take.
  • Make sure you know how to safely store your medications while traveling. Some drugs can be affected by extreme heat or cold.
  • Carry your medications with you in their original bottles in your carry-on luggage. Don't pack them in bags you plan to check.

What If You Need a Prescription Abroad?

Sometimes the best of plans go awry. You might still forget a medication or lose it along the way. One of the best ways to solve this problem is to buy travel insurance. Most travel insurance companies include prescription replacement as part of their service. If you don’t have that coverage, you may need to find a doctor at your location who can write a new prescription for you. Having a note from your doctor back home and a copy of your prescription will help.

To find a doctor or clinic where you can get a new prescription, contact the nearest American embassy or consulate. Get contact information before you leave through the U.S. State Department. Another way to find a doctor or clinic abroad is to contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers.

Be aware that some prescriptions may be hard to refill in foreign countries. Newer medications might not be available. Foreign brands may have different doses. In some countries, a narcotic pain medication may even be illegal. In these cases you may need to get in touch with your doctor at home to find out whether you can change your dose or use a substitute medication until you get home.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 9
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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  4. Your Health Abroad. U.S. Passports & International Travel. http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/go/health.html