on the road

15Jun13

If you’re someone who has recently been prescribed injectable medication, have you worried about how this may affect travel plans? I have an upcoming trip (husband’s 25th high school reunion) and, luckily, I’m a seasoned veteran with my syringes. I even traveled to Central America in December without even a questioning look if I was part of a drug cartel! (The pale skin probably helped.)

Many MS drugs are still injection-based, whether intramuscular or subcutaneous. That means we have to keep them refrigerated. (Or, as one of my nurses told me, below 77 Fahrenheit–that’s useful news here in Seattle.) All of my pill-based medications are easy enough to deal with, but this one is tricky.

First thing I’ll say–please don’t let this be your “ball and chain”. This should not be the thing that stops you from traveling! Keep on doing what you can, as long as you can. Diabetics have been insulin-injecting for years, and even though our drugs haven’t been on the market quite as long, the system is used to dealing with syringes.

Here are my suggestions for traveling with your medication (whether Rebif, Betaseron, Copaxone… or even insulin injections):

  1. Keep your medication below 77 degrees as much as you can. I was given a chilled pack that holds a few syringes plus an ice pack when I first started taking Rebif. This may be something you can get from a drug store, or you can also fabricate your own from a Ziploc and a small ice pack. When you reach your destination, get it in a fridge. I try to book rooms with a minifridge, and I often ask the front desk if I can have them freeze my ice pack (just don’t forget it!).
  2. Get a prescription note from your doctor and keep it with the medication. I’ve never had to pull this out, even going through customs, but it doesn’t hurt to have it around in case you’re questioned.
  3. Don’t put your medication through the x-ray screening. I understand that the radiation can destroy its effectiveness. Instead, tell the security officers what you have, pull out your kit, and they will likely pull you aside and swab your medication afterward. Not a problem (as long as you are not late for your flight).
  4. If you don’t have one already, get a needle clipper. A needle clipper like this eliminates the need to place the entire syringe into a sharps container. (I hear that the intramuscular needles are too thick and don’t clip well, however.) I was given a small “travel sharps container” for my December Costa Rica trip, and I struggled to get 6 syringes in there… that covered 2 weeks. If I wanted to travel longer, what to do? The needle clipper solves that problem: I can dispose of the rest of the syringe in regular trash. (Or, to prevent garbage collectors from freaking out, I’ll probably collect them in an empty plastic water bottle first.)
  5. Of course, staying hydrated, eating at regular intervals… that all goes without saying, right?

Keep on traveling! (as a local travel celebrity always says) I’d love to hear other MS’ers travel tips–what has helped all of you?

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One Response to “on the road”


  1. 1 traveling with syringes | In Search of My New Normal

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