You’ve got your bags packed, tickets in hand and you’re ready to take off on an adventure. Of course, wearing contact lenses makes life easier in a lot of ways, travel included, but you will have to keep some things in mind so your eyes are healthy and you can take in all of the sights of your vacation. Unsure of the ins and outs of living the jet-set life with less than perfect vision?
Don’t worry; being your favorite purveyor of Canadian contact lenses, we’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about traveling with contact lenses from things like swimming, diving and snorkeling with contact lenses to tips for wearing contact lenses on long flights. Here are some ways to ensure you can see clearly to soak up every moment of your next trip.
Going on vacation when you only have one or two pairs of contacts left never ends well. You resort to wearing uncomfortable ones past their prime because you don’t have extras to fall back on or if you lose one, you’re either stuck sporting your glasses or navigating the world with blurry vision.
When you’re running low or it’s going to be an extended trip, schedule an appointment with your eye care practitioner before you leave. Every country has different rules and regulations for contact lenses and some require that you’ve had an exam and a prescription within a specified period to purchase them. You don’t want to spend precious vacation time scurrying around looking for a doctor and sitting through an appointment just to procure a pair of contacts. Instead, get it out of the way before you go.
See a pro for a contact lens exam and get a new prescription or if you had one not too long ago, order a bunch of contacts online in advance. We know just the place (hint, hint). At Fresh Lens, we’ll even hang on to your prescription so you don’t have to keep putting it in every time you order. Being prepared is worth it and you’ll be able to fully relax on your vacation.
If you’re going to a nice resort or a bustling city, chances are, if you forget something, you’ll have access to supplies, so taking your contact lenses on vacation won’t require too much effort.
However, if your agenda includes camping or visiting a secluded locale, make a detailed packing list and mark off items. Regardless of the type of contact lenses you wear, bring some extras just in case one tears or escapes from your eye. If you’re checking your luggage, pack contact lenses in your carry-on too because sometimes bags get lost. It’s also a really good idea to bring along your backup eyeglasses.
This way, you know that no matter what happens, you’ll be able to see on your trip. It’s kind of hard to enjoy breathtaking scenery if your eyesight isn’t great and you don’t have any form of vision correction on hand. Plus, as we’ll discuss in some of our next points, you might want to wear your glasses on a long haul flight or when you’re splashing around in the water.
In addition to your contacts and glasses, bring a new, unused contact lens case (this way you don’t need to worry about germs and bacteria), multipurpose solution and rewetting drops.
If you’re driving, you can toss a big bottle of your favorite contact lens solution in the car. However, when flying, while you might want to pack your full-size solution in your checked bag, you’ll have to spring for a travel-sized bottle for your carry-on to abide by the TSA liquids rule, which states liquids have to be in 3.4 ounces or smaller sized containers and go in a 1 quart re-sealable bag.
Never transfer contact lens solution from a larger bottle to a smaller bottle because it can affect the sterility of the solution. Purchase an unopened, sealed bottle of travel-sized contact solution, which is available at most supermarkets, pharmacies or online.
There may be instances where you’ll have to handle your contacts in an area that’s not exactly sterile, like an airplane bathroom, the middle of the woods or the passenger seat of a car, so include a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer too and a compact mirror. Bottled water is another helpful addition to your bag. If you’re flying, buy it once you pass security.
Daily disposable contact lenses have tons of benefits and they’re hard to beat when it comes to traveling with contact lenses. They’ll make your life (and trip) so much easier. You won’t need to pack a case or solution. Instead, you’ll throw out your contacts each night and start with a fresh pair in the morning.
This is especially beneficial when doing things like camping where it’s hard to handle your lenses in a hygienic manner or if you forget to take out your contacts before diving into the hotel pool and need a new pair. That said, daily contacts are more expensive than weekly and monthly contacts.
If you’re a frequent traveler, weigh the pros and cons and seriously consider making the switch. If you’re happy with your monthly or weekly lenses and you only travel once a year, you might not feel the need to do anything differently when you vacation with contact lenses.
It will really come down to your budget and lifestyle. Another solution if you don’t want to spend the extra bucks on dailies is to visit your eye doctor before your trip and temporarily switch to dailies while you’re away. You can always go back to your usual lenses when you return. If you’re ready to stock up before hopping on the plane, check out our selection of daily contact lenses.
When traveling with contact lenses, the airplane ride will take a little consideration because of the cramped conditions, your fellow coughing, sneezing passengers, limitations on liquids and dry, re-circulated cabin air.
On a short or moderate flight, wearing contacts is fine. Keep your rewetting drops nearby and use them liberally to combat dry eyes. If a lens pops out or for some reason you decide to take them out or put them in, go to the bathroom and wash your hands thoroughly before handling your contacts.
If the airplane’s soap dispenser is empty or you suspect the soap contains lotions, de-germ your paws with some hand sanitizer and once they’re completely dry, rinse your fingertips with water or contact solution (going straight in with the sanitizer on your fingers will burn your eyes).
For a long airplane ride contact lenses aren’t always the best choice. It pains us to say that considering our deep love for the amazing little vision correctors but long haul flights that involve snoozing aren’t usually conducive to contacts unless you have the extended wear variety that are safe to sleep in.
You’ll likely be more comfortable if you wear your glasses and put your contacts in when you get to your destination. If you really want to wear contacts and you have dailies or don’t mind storing your contacts in the case for half of the flight, follow the instructions above for handling your lenses and take them out and put on your glasses when you’re ready to go to sleep.
Who doesn’t love a good road trip? It doesn’t get much better than seeing new places, fun pit stops, landmarks, delicious food and a killer music selection. However, with all the positives, there are challenges, such as bathrooms with varying degrees of cleanliness, no running water while in the car and hours of staring at the road as you make your way down those long, uninterrupted stretches of highway.
Wearing contact lenses on a road trip means you’ll have to take matters into your own hands in some situations. You can’t count on fully stocked, clean bathrooms at every stop, so again, hand sanitizer or your own bottle of travel hand soap is a must. Try to wait to remove your contacts and put them in until you have access to a bathroom where you can wash your hands thoroughly and wash and dry your case.
Driving is a reduced-blink-rate activity, much like staring at a computer or reading. When you’re concentrating, you tend to blink less, which makes eyes dry, leads to visual disturbances and can cause discomfort, especially when wearing contact lenses.
Some people prefer to wear glasses when it’s their time to drive on a road trip. This could be a good choice for when you’re taking a long, boring shift and you’re likely to zone out. Or, you can use your rewetting drops frequently and make a concerted effort to blink. You’ll have to experiment and see what works best for you.
Camping or hanging out in remote areas doesn’t automatically require wearing glasses. Bring spare contacts, backup eyeglasses, rewetting drops, especially at higher altitudes, which can cause dry eye, a compact mirror and a screw-on contact case to prevent leaks. Some people like unscented, alcohol-based wet wipes.
You can use them to wash your hands and face before touching your contacts. Or, invest in concentrated, biodegradable soap like Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s. Rub the soap on your hands and rinse with a splash of bottled water. Never ever use water from a stream or a lake because it’s home to microbes that can permanently damage your vision, which we’ll get to shortly. Remember, when you’re out in the wilderness, leave no trace.
If taking the wipes route, keep a separate baggie in your kit to store used wipes and take them with you when you leave to dispose of properly. Even biodegradable soaps shouldn’t go into a natural water source. Wash your hands into a bowl and dig a hole about eight inches deep to toss your soapy, used water into when you’re done.
Pro tip: If it’s freezing out, bring your contact lens case into your sleeping bag with you at night. The solution can freeze and then you’ll have to wait for your contacts to thaw out or you’ll be left with crispy little discs.
As we mentioned, water is filled with all sorts of microbes and viruses that can damage your eyes, including the Acanthamoeba organism that attaches to contacts and has the potential to cause an infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis and permanent vision loss. Contacts are like sponges and the porous material soaks up all of the nasties, hence why we keep saying water and contact lenses don’t mix.
Even if they don’t get exposed to a virus, such as when swimming in a chlorinated pool or unwinding in the hot tub, they will absorb the chemicals, leading to irritation. By taking the proper precautions, your contact lenses don’t have to interfere with your jaunt to Mexico or island excursion.
If you’ll be swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving with contact lenses in salt water or a pool, you may be able to get away with wearing soft contact lenses and good fitting goggles or a mask as long as no water is able to get in. Use rewetting drops before putting on your mask and keep your eyes closed tightly during mask flooding and mask removal.
When you get out of the water, use your rewetting drops one more time. Dailies would be much preferable in these instances. After your dive or snorkeling session or a quick dip in the pool, throw out the pair you wore under your mask or goggles and put in new ones.
If you wear monthly or weekly contacts, at the very least, take your contacts out as soon as you’re done your water activity and let them disinfect overnight in their case before wearing them again. Even better would be splurging on prescription swim goggles or a prescription diving mask.
Rivers and lakes are particularly prone to wreaking havoc on your eyes because there’s no chlorine or salt to keep organisms at bay, so wear your glasses. If water splashes in your eye with contacts, just as you would when sporting them under your goggles or a mask, toss them and start fresh.
We hope our guide to traveling with contact lenses ignited your wanderlust and left you feeling prepared to tackle your next adventure with clear vision.
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