Below are recommendations of what to use to keep your medications cold when traveling. The recommendations come directly from our Autoinflammatory Alliance patient community.
This is the cooler we use. This soft-sided travel cooler is specially designed for travel with your medication and the related supplies. It has two sides that zip open. In one side, you put the medication and gel pack. On the other is a pouch where you can carry any paperwork, extra syringes, alcohol swaps etc. You can even get a small plastic container in this pouch to use as your sharps container while you travel.
There is a digital thermometer that you can read from the outside of the pack, which is a nice convenience and reassuring, as it’s easy to monitor the temperature inside the case. Placement of the thermometer gauge does however make a difference in the reading. I found it’s best to center it between the gel pack and the medication. If it falls down along the side or bottom, it reads the temperature as being higher than it really is.
For a size comparison, this is about the same outer dimensions of an iPad, but wider. You can fit about four boxes worth of anakinra syringes in the cooler side, but not in the boxes if you fill the other side with supplies. You would have to pull the syringes out and wrap them in bubble wrap to fit that many. Two boxes of syringes with the boxes can fit however. If you remove the syringes from the box, remember to keep the prescription label and pack it with the syringes.
The manufacturer states that medications will stay cool for 30 hours. However, I wouldn’t go that long without changing out the gel pack to a new frozen one or replacing with ice. It did keep the medication within the correct temperature range during a cross-country trip that lasted 15 hours, however by the last hour or two it was starting to warm up to the upper limits of that range.
If you will be traveling with a cooler for food – we learned you can put this inside the cooler and it stays the right temperature for much longer. While camping, we placed this bag inside a large Ziploc bag and put it on top of the food and drinks inside a cooler. It went about 2 days in hot summer sun before needing more ice. You can buy the Insulpak Medication Travel Bag on Amazon
Several patients in our community use and recommend the PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag. The gel pack is permanently sewed into the lining of the lunch bag. You freeze the entire bag before use. Patients report it has enough room for at least three to four trays of anakinra and stays cold for at least 10 hours. Some reported flying across the country with no worries about the temperature of their medication. Everyone likes that it folds flat when not in use. This is also about half the cost of the Insulpak, so if you want simple and cheap, this is the one to buy. However, do buy a refrigerator thermometer to place inside so you can monitor the temperature. Buy a PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag on Amazon
This economical insulated lunch bag will also keep your medications cold enough for travel. It’s soft sided and has a shoulder strap, making it easy to carry and travel with in the car or airports. It’s also large and will hold several boxes of Kineret. All you need to add is a gel ice pack and container to put your medications inside. Most any plastic container designed for sandwiches will work for most pre-filled syringes. Buy a Thermos Cooler on Amazon
You can also make your own travel cooler. One patient uses a stainless steel thermos like this one with a wide opening. She wraps the Kineret syringes in bubble wrap with a thermometer. Around that she places small ice packs. The bubble wrapped keeps the syringes from freezing and at just the right temperature. On the outside of the thermos, she tapes a photocopy of the medication label. This thermos travel cooler can easily fit into small carry-on luggage or even a large purse.
The Hydroflask with the wide mouth also does a great job of keeping medications cold. One family reports it kept their biologic medications cold for 36 hours.
If you need to travel with a larger amount of refrigerated medication, you will need to get a much larger cooler. There are a number of soft-sided coolers that will work. The important thing is to make sure that you have enough room around the medication for adequate ice or gel packs, so all the medication will stay cold, and that the overall dimensions work with the airline baggage restrictions for carry-on luggage. Soft-sided coolers fit better into overhead or under the seat areas.