Poor adherence to medical treatment is widespread and well recognized. Poor adherence to medication therapy either because medication doses are forgotten or the patient experiences adverse effects and stops taking medication, may lead to poor health outcomes and increased healthcare costs. In the summer months, when many patients go on vacation, I find non-adherence to increase for various reasons. In addition, poor knowledge of medication storage, as well as food and herbal interactions may affect the well-being of the individual.  

7 tips on safety and adherence to medication on vacationTo ensure proper care with medication therapy while on vacation, here are some tips to provide the patient, their family and friends:

Tip 1: know all the information about the list medications before you pack it (refresh your memory even though you might have known this information before)

  • What side effects may occur? How do you recognize these side effects? What do you do if they occur?
  • Recommended ranges for medication dosing administration 
  • How long does it take for this drug to work? How will I know that it is working?
  • What should I do when I miss a dose? 
  • What do you do if I overdose? 
  • Are there any precautions you should take when you are on this drug?

Tip 2: Know all potential interactions with your medications

  • What does this drug interact with? (prescription medication, over the counter products, herbal products)
  • What food or drink does each drug interact with?
  • What activities should be avoided – and when?

Tip 3 : Know storage recommendations for medication vials

  • How long can it be stored outside of refrigerator?
  • Can the medication be stored close to sources of heat and cold or exposed to sunlight?
  • In what temperature ranges will the medication go bad?
  • Can you bring this medication on the plane when you travel? What are TSA regulations governing medications on planes?

Tip 4: Make a list of your medications and other important health related information and carry it with you

  • List of names of medications, concentration, and recommended times for dosing administration
  • Name of your provider, pharmacy and their phone number
  • Health insurance card
  • List of medication related information in bullet point  
  • Adverse effects of medications
  • What to do if you miss a dose or take an extra dose
  • Food , drink or a drug that interacts with any of your medications
  • What activities to avoid
  • Medication storage information
  • List of local hospital or health centers in case of an emergency

Tip 5: Develop a schedule to take your medicines on time while on vacation.

  • Write the schedule on paper include name of medication, dose, and time or activity for dosing administration time.
  • Coincide taking medications with activities during the day (such as meals, brushing teeth or bedtime) 

Tip 6: Make sure you always have your medication on hand or near you at all times.

  • Use a small recognizable storage bag that stores only your medications
  • Carry sufficient supply of medications for the duration of the trip (no more and no less)
  • Fill a pill box to reduce the number of pills you carry with you, but carry either a copy of prescriptions or original medication vial labels if you have to refill your medication in an emergency. 

Tip 7: Remind yourself to take your medications  

  • Leave yourself notes or checklists to remind you to take your medicine. Put them in places such as by bedside or on the bathroom mirror where you will be sure to see them. 
  • Make a daily checklist of the pills you have to take and the times you should take them, and then check off each dose after you take it.    
  • Set an alarm on your phone to remind you when to take a medication and then set the alarm for the next dose
  • Share medication related information and times for medication administration with family or friends that travel with you so they can remind you to take medications when if you forget.

When an individual forgets to take medications while on vacation or experiences medication related adverse effects there is an impact on total individual’s healthcare.  Therefore, it is important to take medication as directed and on schedule. Doing so will ensure that the patient enjoys vacation time and maintains their health.