How to Safely Pack Medications to Travel

Putting all your medications in one bottle can save space in your luggage, but it can also be risky.

A business man packs a rolling carry-on suitcase on a white bedspread, image
Safely pack away your medications for any type of trip.
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Toothpaste, sunscreen, vitamins, deodorant—when you’re traveling, toiletry bags quickly get chaotic. If you’re packing medications, combining pills in one bottle could seem like a real space saver. But mixed-bag medicines are quite risky, says Matthew Grissinger, director of error-reporting programs at the nonprofit Institute for Safe Medication Practices. “I’ve seen pill bottles containing Tylenol, Motrin, and prescription medications,” he says. “You wouldn’t know what you were taking. It’s playing with fire.”

You may think you know your meds, but mistakes can happen—especially when you’re in a rush. It doesn’t help that many pills lack clear identifying marks. Grissinger notes that people on vacation are often on the move and can be distracted from the critical task of taking the right pills on schedule.

If you’re on several medications, he recommends packing an organizer that can sort out the pills to pop day by day. And don’t worry: An organizer won’t cause hassles with airport security staff. (Like you, they’re no fans of chaotic travel bags.) It might take up a little space in your luggage, but it will also make it just that much easier to relax.


This article was first published in July 2011 and last updated in February 2022.