Managing Seizure Medications While Traveling


Managing medicines safely will involve making sure you have enough medicines with you, can take medicines at consistent times while away, and have a plan on when to use "as needed" or rescue medicines.

  • Take enough with you to last double the length of time you will be away. This way, if you lose any medicine, you won’t run out.
  • Keep the medicine in properly labeled bottles. If you need extra bottles, ask your pharmacist to give you an extra labeled bottle.
  • Carry one supply of medicine (enough to last the length of your trip) with you in a carry-on bag. Then put an extra supply in a checked bag. If you lose your carry-on, you’ll have more medicine in your checked bag. However, if your checked-bag gets lost, you’ll still have your carry-on bag. You also want to have a supply available with you during long travel times, so you can take your medicines on time.
  • Take a written list of medicines with you. It will help you remember when to take your pills. It also may be needed as you go through security checkpoints or if you need to get medical help while you are away. Complete one of the Medicine Schedules to take with you.
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse about how to manage your medicine schedule if you will be crossing time zones.
    • People who take the same amount of medicines twice a day can stick to their usual schedule without much difficulty. Usually adjusting the time you take pills a few hours can keep you on schedule.
    • People who take medicine three or more times a day (or people who take different amounts of medicine twice a day) may have trouble keeping to their usual schedule. Sometimes the pill schedule can be adjusted for the day of travel. Or try adjusting the times you take medicines for a few days before traveling. This can help you get onto a new schedule more easily. Work with your doctor or nurse ahead of time to adjust your schedule appropriately.
  • Have a plan on what to do if you miss a dose. Usually medicines can be made up if you remember them within a certain period of time, but you want to be careful that you don’t take too much at once. Go over your list of medicines with your doctor or nurse and ask for specific instructions on when to make up any missed doses.
  • Know what to do if you have side effects while you are away. For example, make sure you are taking the medicines the same way, such as after or before food, each day. If the side effects persist after you are back on a regular schedule, talk to your doctor. If you have side effects that affect your safety, have someone with you and lighten your schedule if you can.
  • To help you remember your medicines, check off when you have taken a dose on a chart or your seizure calendar. Pay extra attention to times you take medicines for the first few days that you are on a new schedule.
  • Use a pill box to help you know if you have missed a dose. Then you can make it up more easily. If you are traveling with a companion, ask them to double check the pillbox once a day to make sure you didn’t miss any.
  • Talk to your health care team in advance about how to manage seizure emergencies. If you have frequent seizures or are at risk of seizure clusters, your doctor may adjust when you should take rescue medicines or your regular medicine schedule. Sometimes taking it before problems arise may be advised. Make sure to update your Seizure Action Plan.
  • Take a supply of "as needed" or rescue medicine with you and check to see if the medicine is available where you are going. If you are traveling for an extended period of time to another country, you may need to get refills. Not all medicines are known under the same name or may not be available.
  • Know how to get emergency help where you are going. If your rescue treatment doesn’t work, you’ll need to call for help to prevent a seizure emergency.
  • Most of the "as needed" medicines may make you sleepy for a short period. You may also be tired from having seizures. Make sure you have a place to rest after having clusters of seizures or taking an "as needed" medicine.
  • If you, or your child, use Diastat, work with your nurse or doctor on how to give this while traveling. For example, if you have an extra seat on a plane or train, you can help the child or adult lie down. Privacy can be maintained fairly easily by putting a jacket or blanket over the person when you give the Diastat. Then stay with the person until the seizure stops and let them rest.

In May 2019, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) updated its guidelines on traveling with cannabidiol (CBD) products. When you fly, you can now carry on or pack in checked baggage products/medications that contain hemp-derived CBD (with less than 0.3% THC) or are approved by the FDA, such as Epidiolex.

While the carry-on quantity of liquids is less than 3.4 ounces/100mL, TSA allows larger amounts of medically necessary liquids in reasonable quantities for your trip. However, you must declare them to security officers at the checkpoint for inspection. In checked baggage, liquid medications are allowed without packing requirements, quantity limitations, or notification requirements. Learn more on TSA’s website. Learn more about medical cannabis and epilepsy.

Authored By:

Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Steven C. Schachter MD

on Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Reviewed By:

Epilepsy Foundation Health Communications

on Tuesday, May 28, 2019


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