Suppose that I have to take some medication three times a day; one in the morning, one at lunch and one during dinner.

Now when I take a plane to go on vacation and cross multiple time zones, how should I schedule my medication?

  • 7
    This depends on the medicament, on who you are, where you go and for how long etc ... You should check this issue with a physician.
    – user766
    Commented Dec 11, 2011 at 21:17
  • 3
    This could also be an excellent question for a pharmacist. In many countries, pharmacists went to school for years to earn an advanced degree just so they could answer questions like this. They can advise you how time-sensitive your particular medication may be and whether you should take it specifically before/after meals, right before bed or right after you wake up, and other such details. And unlike a doctor, they're just standing at the counter at your local drug store waiting for you to ask. Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 18:23
  • I would consider this a medical advice request and thus off-topic as on virtually any SE site...
    – fkraiem
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 23:04

4 Answers 4


My wife is physician and she says:

You shouldn't change your physician prescription times unless:

  • you do it one or two hours per day (i.e. you take 3 pills each 8 hours, so you can advance one hour the first pill, then take the second 8 or 9 hours later and the last one 8 hours later.. maximum 2 hours).
  • you ask your physician and he approves the change.

Of course, you can start adapting your schedule before starting your vacations.


Different medicines have different requirements on when they're taken. Some can be quite general, some very specific (eg a very definite interval). Some have specific requirements about being before / during / after food. All of this means that what works for one medicine won't work for another, and what's safe with one can be dangerous with another!

Your first step can be to read the information leaflet that comes with your medicines, especially the parts on when to take it and what to do if you miss a dose. You may find that that gives you all the answers you need, and you can safely work out what to do from it.

However, the only safe step is to go and speak to your doctor about it. They can look up exactly how it behaves with taking it earlier or later, and then they can advise you on how to change your timings before, during and after the journey.


The only safe way is to ask your doctor.

Personally I take daily meds, and just half the difference. If the timezone is 8 hours ahead, I take it 4 hours ahead the first night, and then the new normal time the second night. Given I normally vary the take time anyway as I have them just before bedtime, a few hours difference doesn't matter.

However, for time-specific ones - say, tablets that need taking every x hours, this is not advised. In that case, slow adjustments is probably the best, but as I said - your doctor is the definitive judge on this decision.


This will sound like an advertisement but it is not: I am not affiliated with this company just have found timer caps genuinely useful in these situations and in general, the whole life. Especially when changing time zones keeping track of pills can get confusing and hard, this makes it trivial.

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