Ozempic on vacation: how to stay on track while away
LAST UPDATED: Jun 16, 2023
7 MIN READ
HERE'S WHAT WE'LL COVER
If you’ve been taking Ozempic or Wegovy to control your blood sugar, lose weight, or both — you’ve seen the results of this drug first-hand. You know how your body feels on Ozempic, and what side effects you can expect.
But, what happens when you miss a dose of Ozempic? Can you get away with skipping a dose while on vacation?
The short answer is no, you shouldn’t skip Ozempic or Wegovy while traveling. For the longer answer — plus tips on packing Ozempic for vacation — read on.
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What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is an FDA-approved injectable prescription medication that treats type 2 diabetes by controlling blood sugar. The drug’s active ingredient, semaglutide, does this by mimicking a gut hormone called GLP-1.
GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic encourage insulin release after you eat, helping keep blood sugar in check. They delay gastric emptying (when food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine), and affect how your brain feels about food — including telling your brain you’re full, reducing cravings, and making certain foods (like fatty foods) seem less palatable.
As a result, both Ozempic and its sister medication, Wegovy, can lead to weight loss. Officially, Ozempic is only FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes (and reduce cardiovascular risk in people with heart disease), while Wegovy is only FDA-approved to treat weight management. However, depending on their patient’s needs, health providers may prescribe Ozempic both for type 2 diabetes as well as for weight loss off-label.
Can you skip Ozempic doses on vacation?
The best person to ask this question is your health provider. But in general, no, you really shouldn’t skip doses of Ozempic or Wegovy (or any medication, really) while on vacation.
Both Ozempic and Wegovy are indicated for long-term use. Like with most chronic prescription medications, skipping a dose is not a good idea unless your health provider specifically tells you to do so.
Both Ozempic and Wegovy have a half-life of about one week, which is why both drugs are injected on a weekly basis. In pharmacology, a half-life describes how long it takes for the amount of a drug in your body to decrease to half of its starting dose. It’s also what health providers use to determine the best dosing schedule for a medication to have its optimal therapeutic effect. In other words, you need to take Ozempic and Wegovy on a weekly basis, per your dosing schedule, for the drug to work at its best.
It’s true that some amount of the drug will remain in your system past the half-life. How long a drug stays in your system depends on several factors, including your age, metabolism, and the dose of the drug itself. The maximum dose of Ozempic (1 mg) can take up to 5 weeks to fully flush out of your system, while the maximum dose of Wegovy (2.4 mg) can take up to 7 weeks.
Still, when you skip a dose of Ozempic or Wegovy, you can’t predict how your body will react. You may be more likely to experience side effects when you return to your regular dose schedule.
Having said all this, sometimes people simply forget to take their dose. No worries. Here’s what to do if you miss a dose of Wegovy or Ozempic, depending on when you took your last dose.
Ozempic Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.
Wegovy Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.
Missing a dose of Ozempic
If you’ve missed a dose of Ozempic, inject your missed dose as soon as you remember within five days of the date you were supposed to take it. Continue your dosing schedule as usual. If it’s been more than five days, skip that dose and inject your next dose per your regular schedule.
Missing a dose of Wegovy
If you’ve missed a dose of Wegovy and your next dose is more than 48 hours away, inject Wegovy as soon as possible. If the next dose is less than 48 hours away, skip the dose you missed and inject your next dose according to your regular schedule.
If you miss two or more doses of Wegovy in a row, you may still be able to resume your dosing schedule as usual. But, it’s also possible your health provider will recommend starting over from the beginning, starting with the lowest dose of Wegovy and slowly increasing every four weeks like you did when you first started treatment. Your health provider may recommend this to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea that can flare up when you first start using Wegovy after skipping multiple doses.
Ozempic portion control on vacation
It’s not uncommon for us to splurge when we’re on vacation, and we’re not just talking about our budgets. Many of us like to indulge in food and drink when traveling. If you are taking Ozempic, you may not notice that urge the way you used to, given the drug’s effects on your brain regarding appetite, satiety, and cravings. In case you do, though, we have some tips to help you stick to your Ozempic diet while traveling.
Admittedly, making healthy food choices and portion control is slightly more challenging when you’re on vacation, but it’s doable. Follow these five tips.
1. Stick to a healthy diet
While you may feel tempted to veer off your diet, try your best not to. Not only can unhealthy foods counteract your weight loss goals and cause blood sugar spikes, but they can also worsen some of Ozempic’s most notorious side effects, like nausea and diarrhea — especially if your body isn’t as used to eating these anymore, and if you’re dehydrated from traveling.
2. Limit the cocktails
While alcohol is not known to interact dangerously with Ozempic, you may want to limit drinking on vacation. Alcohol is linked with overeating, making it harder to make healthy food choices on vacation.
Plus, alcohol is dehydrating. And if you’re already dehydrated from traveling, you may be more at risk of a hangover, which can lead to nausea and vomiting you may experience with Ozempic. Talk about a vacation buzzkill.
If you want to have a cocktail here or there, limit your drinking to two drinks max if you're a guy, and one max if you’re a woman. For reference, one drink equals one 12-ounce beer, 1.5 ounce shot of liquor, or 4 ounces of wine.
3. Pack your own sacks
There are a lot of tempting foods at the airport, many of which are in larger portions than you might eat if you were at home. Take control of the situation and bring your own sacks.
You can purchase healthy snacks that come prepackaged, and pre-portioned, like nuts and dried fruits, and use those as a snack at the airport and throughout your travels. This tip takes just a bit of preparation pre-trip, but it allows you to save money (since airport food is way pricier than your local grocery store) and maintain your weight loss.
4. Be mindful when eating out
It’s easy to overindulge when eating out, especially since restaurants sometimes serve triple — or quadruple — the number of servings we should eat, according to the CDC. Still, you can manage your portions when eating out.
Use portion control strategies like putting half of your entree in a to-go box. The plate method helps ensure you get the necessary nutrients while keeping your blood sugar in check. Dedicate half of your plate to non-starchy vegetables, one quarter to lean protein, and one quarter to carbs. Look for entrees that match these ratios, or order a la carte using the sides menu.
5. Drink plenty of water
Traveling can be fun, but it can also be dehydrating. It’s super important to stay hydrated while on vacation.
Get access to GLP-1 medication (if prescribed) and 1:1 support to meet your weight goals
How to travel with Ozempic
Traveling with Ozempic or Wegovy is trickier than bringing along your typical pill. Here's what you need to know.
1. Place Ozempic in a separate liquids bag
As a medication, you can bring Ozempic and Wegovy through security at the airport, but they may ask to scan them separately. Because the pens contain liquid, they’ll need to go in a plastic bag. If possible, store them in their own bag separate from your other liquids, just to allow the screening process to go a bit faster.
If you have it handy, bring the drug’s original carton so TSA can quickly identify the medication.
2. Pack Ozempic in your carry-on
GLP-1s are sensitive to light and extreme temperatures. Contrary to popular belief, the luggage storage areas at the bottom of most commercial planes are indeed temperature-controlled—but these cargo holds aren’t usually well-insulated, so they can get cooler or warmer than the cabin. As a result, it’ll be ideal to pack the medication in your carry-on.
3. Bring a portable medical cooling device
If you’re used to traveling with insulin, you’re already a pro at this. Insulin travel cases help keep your medication cool and shielded from the sun, and they often contain several compartments so you can keep your Ozempic pens and needles separate.
You can purchase insulin travel packs at pharmacies and Amazon. (You can also purchase travel-size versions of sharps disposal containers.)
4. Find a fridge once you arrive
New pens of Ozempic and Wegovy should be stored in a refrigerator (36ºF to 46ºF; 2ºC to 8ºC) before you use them. After the first use, you can store Ozempic at room temperature (59°F to 86°F; 15°C to 30°C), or in the refrigerator. Wegovy is a single-dose pen, so it should always be stored in the fridge.
To keep things easy — and in case you’re traveling somewhere without A/C — store your Ozempic in the fridge while traveling. Always replace the pen cap after using it to protect it from light. If it’s a mini fridge with a freezer option, ensure the Ozempic is not directly next to the freezer to avoid freezing and becoming unusable.
5. Bring a little extra just in case
Hey, stuff happens. Your flight could get canceled or delayed. You could miss your connection. In case “stuff” happens on your trip, pack an extra dose of Ozempic or Wegovy in case you lose a dose or it gets spoiled.
Refilling Ozempic on vacation
The easiest way to refill your Ozempic prescription for vacation is to fill it before you leave. If it’s too early for you to refill your prescription, you’ll need to request what’s called a vacation override. Your pharmacy will contact your insurance company, and they’ll process the override so you can refill your prescription before you leave. This can take a bit longer than the typical refill, so you’ll want to plan a few days.
If you need to refill Ozempic while on vacation, you have a few different options, depending on whether you’re traveling in the States or abroad.
For domestic travel: Find a local pharmacy that is in-network with your insurance. Then call your home pharmacy and ask them to transfer your prescription to the local pharmacy. You’ll need the local pharmacy’s name and address so your home pharmacy can look it up. If your home pharmacy isn’t reachable or playing ball, call your healthcare provider and ask them to help you.
For international travel: If you are traveling abroad, you’ll need to start by calling your healthcare provider who provided the prescription. They can write you a new prescription you can bring to a local pharmacy to be filled. If they’re not reachable, you may need to visit a local health provider and get a prescription that way. Keep in mind that drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy might not be available in every country in the world.
It’s generally not a good idea to skip doses of Ozempic or Wegovy on vacation. Do a little prep before your trip so you can travel safely with Ozempic and eat healthy once you arrive.
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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