A Guide to Travelling With Contact Lenses
The long-awaited day on the calendar has finally arrived. Time to embark on the big adventure you’ve been planning. As someone who wears contacts, there are a few important things you need to remember to keep your eyes healthy.
Regardless of the type of adventure you've got planned, here are the best tips and tricks for travelling with contact lenses.
Get an Eye Exam Well Before Leaving
Not everyone needs an eye exam before a vacation. But, if your contact stash is running low or you’ll be gone for a long time, talking with your eye doctor is a great idea. Otherwise, your vacation may be a blur!
See your eye doctor well in advance, so that, if necessary, you’ll have time to get a new prescription and be seeing perfectly on your trip. If you already had an exam not too long ago, be sure to buy enough contacts online to last the entire trip..
Packing Contacts, Supplies and a Contact Lens Travel Case
For people heading to a new city, forgetting an item or two won’t be a big deal. As long as you have your contact lens supply, any missing items on your packing list will be easy to find and buy.
Yet, if you are going to an out-of-the-way location, forgetting something could ruin your trip. That’s why you’ll want to create a list with everything you need and then mark it off as you pack. When it comes to your contacts, the list should include
- Enough contacts to last the trip, plus some spares in case you lose or rip a lens
- Contact lens solution and a smaller bottle to have with you in your purse or pocket
- Rewetting drops
- A new, unused contact lens travel case that fits easily into a suitcase or backpack
- Hand sanitizer, in case you need to deal with your contacts with nowhere to wash your hands
- Compact-sized mirror
- Spare pair of glasses in case your eyes are too irritated to wear your contact lenses
Important note: Don’t try to make your own small bottle of multipurpose solution by transferring the liquid into a smaller bottle. This can contaminate the solution. Buying the smaller sized bottles makes more sense for your packing needs.
What’s the Best Lens for an Adventure?
The best lens is the lens your eye doctor recommends. Shocking, we know! Consider asking your eye doctor if daily disposable contact lenses are right for you. Why? Because they are so easy to travel with. Your packing list will be much shorter because you can throw the contacts away at the end of each day. Daily disposables are perfect for adventures where sanitation may be an issue.
Of course, these lenses are a bit more expensive, so you’ll have to weigh your options and watch for sales. For those who travel less frequently, you might not choose to switch. Still, for those of you always on the go, dailies may be the right choice. You can always switch to daily lenses for the duration of the trip. Then, when you get home, you can switch back to your less expensive lenses. Or you may fall in love with the ease and convenience of dailies and use them all the time!
Contacts and Airplanes
Travelling by air while wearing contacts is doable but will take a bit of planning. Why? Because planes transport healthy people as well as people sneezing and coughing. Airplanes have dry air and safety protocols limit the amount of liquid you can bring onboard.
For short flights, wearing contacts isn’t a problem. Make sure you use your rewetting drops often to keep from getting dry eyes. If you have to touch your lenses, wash your hands in the bathroom or use your hand sanitizer. Remember, you will have to follow the TSA liquids rule. This rule requires that all liquids be in containers of no more than 3.4 ounces. You will also need to seal the liquid containers in 1-quart resealable bags.
For long flights, especially ones in which you will fall asleep, it might not be optimal for contact lens use. You will be far more comfortable wearing your glasses for the flight and then putting your contacts in when you arrive. Of course, those of you wearing extended wear contacts do not have to worry about sleeping.
Finally, always pack a travel-sized bottle of multipurpose solution in your carry-on bag (and your lens case, too of course). This way, if your luggage becomes lost, you’ll still be able to take care of your contact lens needs.
Contacts and Road Trips
Road trip adventures are fantastic. Everyone loves to see new places and landmarks while eating amazing food. Nonetheless, road trips offer a few challenges for people who wear contact lenses. Such challenges include
- Unsanitary gas station bathrooms
- No way to wash your hands while in the car if you have to remove or put in your lenses
- Dry, irritated eyes from focusing on the road for long hours
Of course, as with any contact lens challenge, there is always an answer!
When road tripping, be sure to take along hand sanitizer. Or better yet, take your own bottle of hand soap, a large container of water and a hand towel. This way, if you can’t wait to take out your contacts until you find a clean bathroom, you have options.
To combat dry eyes that come with driving a vehicle, make sure you blink often. How do you make sure, you may ask! It’s a matter of staying aware and being conscious about blinking. For example, for city driving make a point to consciously blink a few times while waiting for a red light to change. Or on the highway, blink every time you see a certain color car or other item that you’ll likely see on a somewhat regular basis.
You can also use rewetting drops when you stop along the way to help ensure dryness doesn't happen.
Finally, some people choose to wear their glasses while driving a car for long distances. You’ll have to decide what is best for your situation.
Contact Lenses and Camping
As you can imagine, camping in the great outdoors is not the most sanitary activity. But this does not mean that you have to leave your contacts at home while camping. You’ll just have to plan for it.
As always, bring plenty of spare contact lenses and a pair of glasses. You’ll also want rewetting drops, especially if you are in the mountains where the air is drier.
Don’t forget! You need a way to clean your hands. You can use hand sanitizer, wet wipes that contain alcohol, or a biodegradable soap. If you don’t have running water, rinse your hands with bottled water. Follow all directions about the proper disposal of soapy water and wet wipes to keep the environment healthy. Finally, do not rinse your hands in lake or stream water because this water may contain bacteria that are harmful to your eyes.
Oh, and here’s one last tip. Contact lens solution will freeze. So, if you are camping during cold weather, keep your contact case inside your sleeping bag!
Contact Lenses and Water Activities
Water and contacts do not mix. Water is full of bacteria and microorganisms that can hurt your eyes. One is the Acanthamoeba. This causes a terrible infection and often leads to blindness.
Remember, your contact lenses absorb liquid. Unfortunately, they also absorb everything in the liquid, including germs that can hurt your eyes. So, keep water far away from your contacts.
Ah, but what about pools? They don’t contain nasty germs. No, but they do contain chemicals that can irritate your eyes. When swimming on vacation you should remove your contact lenses before diving in.
But, what if you want to go snorkeling or deep diving? Here are a few suggestions:
- Wear tight-fitting goggles that will not leak. Before putting them on, use wetting drops in your eyes. If the mask begins to fill with water, close your eyes and get to the surface. Use the rewetting drops again when you're done swimming. Take out the contact lenses and let them soak in multipurpose solution overnight to disinfect them.
- Consider wearing daily lenses that you can throw away after being in the water. You'll need to put in a new pair after each swimming session.
- Buy a mask or goggles that are made with your eyeglass prescription.
Travelling with contact lenses is not difficult as long as you plan ahead. With our tips in this guide we’re sure you’ll see clearly on your next great adventure. Happy travels!