Traveling with Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are a must when traveling or vacationing. Having the freedom from glasses on an active trip or being able to wear sunglasses is a big convenience. There are a few things that you should keep in mind when traveling to be sure you enjoy your trip with comfortable eyes and clear vision.

Before you leave home

When packing bags for your trip, here is a list of items to include in your carry on bag:

A travel size bottle of contact lens solution

Buy travel size bottles of solution rather than trying to transfer solution from a larger bottle to a smaller one. Transferring can cause the solution to become contaminated.

A typical travel size bottle (about 2oz) will last a week or two. It you are traveling for more than a week, it would be safer to pack several bottles. Bring enough solution so that you don’t have to worry about buying it at your destination and risk not finding the type of solution that you need.

Small bottles of contact lens rewetting drops

Rewetting drops are not the same as contact lens cleaning and storing solution. Rewetting drops are thicker and will provide better lubrication for your contact lenses. The bottles are also designed to release one drop at a time instead of getting a shower stream of contact lens solution in your face.

It is best to pack several of these bottles, as they can easily get lost. Put the solution and rewetting drops in a leak proof bag or container. Also, squeeze excess air out of the bottles. Air expands and it might result in leaks.

A clean contact lens case

The Dixie cups in the hotel bathroom are not a good choice for storing lenses.

A current pair of glasses

If you haven’t updated your glasses for a while, now might be a good time to do that. Even if you never plan on wearing glasses, you want to be prepared for an emergency such as an eye infection or injury that would require you to go without contacts for a few days or more. You don’t want to miss all the sights without any correction!

An extra pair or two of contacts, just in case.

Accidents happen. You don’t want be a thousand miles from home when your only pair of contact lenses fly off the bathroom counter into the toilet. Oh come on, we’re not the only ones that’s happened to.

Remember to put all these items in your carry-on and not checked luggage. If your luggage gets lost, you don’t want to have to worry about contacts.

Consider daily disposables

Daily disposable lenses make for an easier, hassle-free way to enjoy wearing contact when traveling. With these lenses, you just throw them away at night and start with a brand new lens in the morning. If you are planning a trip, or travel a lot, you may want to ask your eye doctor about fitting you in these lenses. If you already wear daily disposables, be sure to pack enough to last your entire trip, plus a few extra pair for emergency back-ups.

A few more tips

If you are going on a long flight, plan on taking your contact lenses out before getting on the plane, as the cabin air is dry and will make wearing contacts more uncomfortable. If you choose to wear the contacts on the flight, remember to pack rewetting solution in your carry-on bag, and use it every hour or two to keep your eyes from drying out.

Bring your contact lens and glasses prescription with you in case you need replacement lenses while you are away.

Keep your eye doctor’s phone number on you, in case you need to call.

About the TSA

The following information is from the TSA’s website to help you as you plan your trip (current as of November 2015):

You may carry liquids, gels and aerosols in your carry-on bags only if they adhere to the 3-1-1 rule: containers must be 3.4 ounces or less; stored in a 1 quart/liter zip-top bag; 1 zip-top bag per person, placed in the screening bin. Larger amounts of non-medicinal liquids, gels, and aerosols must be placed in checked baggage.

Medically required liquids, such as baby formula and food, breast milk and medications are allowed in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight. It is not necessary to place medically required liquids in a zip-top bag. However, you must tell the Transportation Security Officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the beginning of the screening checkpoint process. Medically required liquids will be subjected to additional screening that could include being asked to open the container. We recommend, but do not require, that medication be labeled to facilitate the security process. Many airports have designated lanes for families and individuals with items requiring additional assistance with screening.

You may purchase beverages after the security checkpoint and take them on the plane, as they have been previously screened. You may also take empty drink containers through the checkpoint and fill them afterward.

If the liquid is considered a hazardous material that is permitted onboard an aircraft, it is still subject to the 3-1-1 limitations. Many questions arise on whether an item is hazardous material and what requirements must be met to take it on an aircraft. The Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) at 1-800-467-4922 or the aircraft operator on which you are flying can assist you with your questions concerning hazardous material.

Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.

Updated Nov 13th, 2015

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