traveling with contacts

Traveling’s stressful. If you wear contact lenses, you don’t want to add eyecare to the list of stuff to stress about.

No matter the type of trip you’re taking—business or pleasure, a weekend getaway or a month-long relocation—you want to make sure you’re prepared with adequate contact lenses and contact lens solution, so you won’t run out during your trip or be tempted to scrimp on your normal cleaning routine.

Here are eight tips to help you travel safely and effectively with your contact lenses:

1. Consider daily disposables

daily disposable acuvueDaily disposable contact lenses offer a no-muss, no-fuss approach to traveling with your contacts. With disposables, you can skip the regular cleaning routine.  When the day is done, you simply trash them. There’s no need to pack all the accoutrements such as cases, extra pairs of contacts, and lens cleaning solution.

Understand, however, you can’t make the decision to use daily disposable contact lenses without the proper prescription from an eye doctor. It’s likely you can make the switch to daily contact lenses. If this interests you, visit your eye doctor to discuss your options, and possibly, get an updated prescription if it makes sense for your vision needs.

2. Have a contingency plan

Pack a pair of glasses in the event you lose your contacts or your eyes become irritated.

You may also want to have a spare set of contact lenses stored in a leak-proof case and enough solution to last you the duration of your trip (more on that later). 

3. Consider carrying-on your contacts

If you’re traveling by plane, consider waiting until you touch down to put your contacts in. The air on planes can contribute to dry eyes, something you won’t want to deal with if you have your contacts in.

Plus, if you’re flying international or if you’re someone who likes to sleep during a flight, sleeping with your contacts could be unpleasant. Air won’t circulate under and around the lens properly, which can lead to tiny tears in the cornea. Consider packing your contacts into your carry-on and slipping on a pair of glasses during air travel.

Additionally, keeping your contacts in your carry-on ensures they’ll stay with you all the way to your destination. That way, in the unfortunate event that you lose your luggage, you’ll still be able to see the sites.

contact lens kit for travel

4. Stay out of the water

As we wrote in a post about frequently asked questions regarding contact lenses, swimming with contacts is problematic. 

The result could be a fungal infection, a virus, or a bacterial infection like Acanthamoeba keratitis, which occurs as a result of swimming with your contacts in and can lead to permanent vision loss or even the need for a corneal transplant.

Milder results include dry eye and discomfort, as pool and fresh water can cause soft contact lenses to tighten around the surface of your eyes. The ocean, hot tubs, shower, and hotel swimming pools should all be avoided if you’re wearing your contacts. If that’s not possible, wear swim goggles or opt for disposable lenses and trash them when done swimming.

5. Have your prescription handy

If you’re traveling internationally or on the road for a long time, it’s a good idea to bring copies of your vision prescriptions along. The numbers that appear on your prescriptions are recognized around the world, meaning, you’ll be able to get a new set of contacts whether you’re in Australia or down the Jersey shore.

Is your contact lens prescription up to date? If you’re unsure or if you know it’s close to expiring sometime around your travel dates, it might be a good idea to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor a few weeks before you leave. That way, you’ll know everything is current.

6. Lens solution is key

If you wear extended wear contacts, you’re lost without contact lens solution. If you’re checking your luggage, the simplest solution—pun intended—is to pack a full-size bottle of lens solution in your suitcase. It might not be a bad idea to also pack a travel size bottle in your carry-on.

Remember: liquids stowed in your carry-on should be 3.4 ounces or less and needs to fit in a quart-size plastic bag or TSA-approved travel case. If you’re not checking luggage and a travel-sized bottle of contact lens solution won’t get you through your journey, make it a priority to purchase a regular sized bottle as soon as you touchdown.

However, contact lens solution is considered a medically approved liquid, meaning you can carry on larger quantities, you just have to declare them once you reach a TSA checkpoint.

Another travel tip: squeeze the air out of any bottles that aren’t full so the changes in cabin pressure don’t cause your lens solution to leak.

7. Maintain your normal cleaning routine

It’s important to maintain your regular contact lens cleaning routine when you’re away. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your lens and don’t take shortcuts no matter how tired or pressed for time you are.

8. Practice safe sun

Be sure to bring your sunglasses along. If you know you’ll be active on your journey, consider wrap-around, polarized sunglasses.

You may also want to purchase contacts with UV protection, which offer an added layer of protection.

Learn more about wearing contact lenses here.

Save on your contact lenses here. 

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Written by Michael Healy
Michael is a writer, consultant, editor, and educator with advanced degrees in health science, education, and educational policy and public administration.