How to travel with contact lenses

A few years ago, when I dyed my hair the brightest red it has ever been, just before embarking on my first trip to Peru, I decided I had to have coloured contact lens. You see, my new beautiful shade of red didn’t match very well my natural eye color, which is dark brown. So, I ordered myself a pair of FreshLook emerald green contact lenses, which I wore for the next 6 months. I loved them so much but after I changed the color of my hair again, slowly, slowly, I stopped buying coloured lenses.

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During these six months of wearing coloured contact lenses I have learned a lot of things about how to take care of them and more important, how to travel with them.

Wearing contact lenses changes your lifestyle and should make you more aware of how important keeping your hands clean all the time and not touching your eyes are.

 

Types of contact lenses

There are two main types of contact lenses: disposable daily wear and extended wear contacts.

When traveling, they both have advantages and disadvantages, so you should decide yourself which ones are better for you.

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The disposable dailies contacts such as Focus Dailies One Day are easy to store and transport in your luggage, and don’t require any additional contact lens solution, which can be harder to carry with you when you only have hand luggage, due to the airport liquid rules. From my own experience, it was harder to find contact lens solution in small bottles that would fit in the 100ml liquid allowance for the hand luggage. When I did find it however, it ended up costing more than a big bottle.

The disposable dailies are also advantageous to travel with because you don’t have to worry about eye infections which can occur if you are travelling in remote places without current water or high hygienic standards.

An advantage of the extended wear contacts however is the space you can save in your bag, especially if you are traveling for a longer time.

 

How to pack contact lenses

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Besides your contact lenses, you should always bring with you on holiday the following:

  • Saline sterile solution (for the extended wear contact lenses)
  • Your contacts case
  • Eye drops
  • Your glasses
  • A prescription for lenses from your optician
  • An extra pack of lenses, just in case
  • Hands sanitising gel

Put your contact lens solution in a zip-lock bag, to avoid spillage. If it’s not full, squeeze it a bit. Because the cabin of the plane is pressurized, the air inside plastic containers expands, which can lead to spillage in your bag. And the last thing you want is to arrive at your destination without contact lens solution. I do remember being in Vietnam and going from pharmacy to pharmacy accompanying a fellow hostel roommate who was trying to find the saline solution.

From my experience with lost luggage, always carry your essentials in the bag that you bring on board the plane with you.

 

At the airport

Don’t forget about the security checks and the carry-on liquid restrictions from the airport. The saline solution for your contact lenses is not considered a medicine and you can’t bring more than 100 ml bottles with you on board the plane. If you are flying from the UK, almost every London airport has a Boots after the security checks from where you can buy a bigger saline solution bottle.

 

On the plane

It’s recommended not to wear contact lenses on the plane. The reason being is that the pressure and the very dry air from inside the cabin can irritate your eyes. Contact lenses inside dry eyes can feel very sharp and uncomfortable. Decide if you want to wear your contacts on the plane or opt for your glasses.

You can wear contacts without feeling uncomfortable for short flights up to 2 or 3 hours. For longer ones, if you do decide to wear your contacts, make sure to use lubricating eye drops to prevent your eyes from drying out.

Do not fall asleep on the plane with your contacts on. As you wouldn’t go to bed forgetting to take your contacts out because of the risk of infections and sore eyes, you shouldn’t wear them either if you decide to take a nap on a long flight.

 

Going to the beach?

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If you plan on going to the beach you should be aware that you will need special contacts with UV protection. Whilst there are UV protection lenses on the market, when you go to a hot destination it’s better to invest in a good quality pair of UV sunglasses. The rays of sun can be very damaging for your eyes and a pair of sunglasses will do a better job of protecting them than a pair of UV lenses.

If you go swimming in the sea or in the pool, do not wear contact lenses. The water in the sea is not sterile, and the one in the pool is treated with different chemicals. Even so though, the water in the pool still carries different bacteria that can be very harmful to your eyes.

If you do need to swim with your contacts on, choose a daily disposable pair and replace them as soon as you get out of the pool. Try to wear swimming goggles as well to reduce to a minimum the chances of getting water touching your eyes.

 

Hygiene

No matter which part of the world you are, never drop the hygiene standards when it comes to your contact lenses. The eyes are one of the most sensitive part of the body and touching them with hands that haven’t been washed properly can lead to major infections. Always handle your contact lens with cleaned hands. Water and soap might not be enough in some parts of the world so always use a disinfection gel on top, after washing your hands.

Never try to move your saline solution from its original bottle to a smaller one, to fit the 100ml airport liquid regulations. By doing so, you risk germs contaminating it.

Also, always clean your contact lens case with saline solution and not water, and let it air dry, facing down. Do not wash your contact lens case with water because it does carry some nasty bacteria that can lead to blindness! Don’t forget to wash your case daily, give it a good deep wash weekly, and replace it every three months.

 

Talk to your optician

Always talk to your optician before going on a long journey. You might need a prescription, in case your luggage gets lost, or if you miscalculate the number of lens you might need for your trip. Remember though that depending on the country, you might not find the same brands as the ones you are used to. Your optician can always advise you before hand of certain situations that you might find yourself in when you are on the road.

In some countries you do need a prescription to buy contact lenses, so always make sure to carry one with you.

 

Disclaimer: This article was written in collaboration with Vision Direct.

Some of the links one this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

35 Comments

  1. I’ve always found contact lenses to be so cute and they actually are ; you look good with them on. Anyway, I must admit that it’s a lot of work maintaining them and I’d really fail at that. But these are good pointers for those who wear them and actually travel with them.

  2. This is great for me to read as my 12-year old is getting contacts for the first time. I know I’m going to have to help her with maintenance and such in the beginning and these are great tips.

  3. I’ve worn contact lenses for 20 years and there are so many tricks that you figure out over time that makes wearing contacts in all situations possible. This is a great one stop article for new wearers. If I had this article years ago I could have saved myself a lot of heartache and itchy eyeballs.

  4. I am so minimal in travelling with contact lenses. All I bring are the lenses, glasses and the solution. But I have been meaning to buy eyedrops for YEARS. I just never needed them

  5. I needed this post! Thanks for the great tips… I’ve been thinking about how best to travel with my lenses, and your advice will be really helpful!!!!

  6. Traveling with contacts can be really frustrating, there’s so many things you have to remember! These are some great tips for those of us who are visually impaired or like colored lenses 🙂

  7. Wow very informative article. I didn’t know about the restrictions on carrying liquids aboard a plane. You have taken care of every minute detail. When I need contact lenses in the future, will definitely refer this article.

  8. I wear contacts all of the time. They are the 2 week ones, and I have never had issues travelling, swimming, or going to the beach. Plenty of beach options down here in Florida, and no one should be afraid to swim with contacts down here 🙂
    Good read and liked learning about your recommendations!

  9. very useful! I started using contacts way more often lately and often think about taking them with me to vacation. But your tips are great, now I know I can actually do that!

  10. These sound fantastic! My husband has to travel a lot, and I know it isn’t easy with contacts. I will have to share these with him!

  11. Glad to learn that the advantages and disadvantages of the using daily contact lense vs extended wear contacts. I usually travel a lot so I gues the disposable is more suitable for me while I am on the road. My bag will get lighter when I dispose the one that I used. Lol.

  12. I love the idea of a daily contact lens that is super helpful when travelling as you can’t always get clean water when you travel. Great post!!

  13. I love those green with your red hair! These are great tips, I’m not sure I could wear contacts, I think I would struggle with touching my eye

  14. I love the green-tinted lenses – they look so entrancing!
    There are some really great tips in this article, I had no idea how much care contacts take so its great to get a better idea of how much people have to think about when travelling with them.
    C x

  15. I used to have coloured contact lenses and making sure I had a case and daily cleansing water was super important to protect them from drying out. He hand sanitising el is a good thing to keep on you.

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