Eye care travel tips

smiling businessman walking through a lobby pulling a suitcase and talking on the phone

Easy ways to avoid common mishaps

Wait a minute. Is that the Eiffel Tower or a cell phone tower?

There’s little point in sight-seeing if it’s like looking through the smeared-up window of a tour bus. Yet every year, this becomes a reality for many travelers who are unprepared for eyewear mishaps.

More than half the population — 55% — lose or break just their sunglasses every year, according to The Vision Council.1 Add in standard prescription eyewear and the case is solid for taking precautions to ensure vision care while traveling. Strange things happen, after all: Mischievous monkeys can pluck the frames right from your head, and windows do occasionally slam shut on contact lens cases in the night.

Don’t let an avoidable eye care mishap derail your trip. These 11 tips can serve as your Plan A and B for vision recovery if your sight is compromised during travel.

  1. Bring backup. Many of us tend to pack 1 unnecessary item of clothing for a trip — just in case. A second pair of glasses or contact lenses can be that item, and there’s nothing unnecessary about it. If you’ve got a second pair of prescriptions, even if they’re a little out of date, pack them. Eyewear can be a terrific fashion accessory, but its first job is to help you see.
  2. Keep them on you. When packing, the rule of thumb applies to eyewear as well as expensive jewelry — don’t put anything you can’t afford to lose in your checked bag. Store eyeglasses or contact lenses in a purse or carry-on bag so they are always with you not circling a baggage carousel in Tucson.
  3. Use a hard case. Subways are crowded, overhead bags can get smooshed and purses occasionally get sat on. If your glasses are in a hard case, they’ll survive these high-pressure moments.
  4. But try not to keep them on your head. Ever notice how much you look up when exploring? Glasses tend to fall from tipped-back heads. If they survive the fall, they are at greater risk of getting crunched underfoot if you are in a crowded, touristy environment. Top-of-head glasses also tend to stretch out2 and are more likely to attract curious monkeys. Make a habit of keeping them in their case when they aren’t on your nose.
  5. Watch the mercury. If traveling in extreme cold or hot conditions, be sure to insulate your eyewear. Often, very high or low temperatures can damage or break glass lenses as well as frames. Extreme heat can also cause frames to stretch or lose shape.3
  6. Know your vision benefits. Before packing that first suitcase, check to see what your vision benefits offer in cases of lost or damaged eyewear, especially if traveling abroad. EyeMed’s International Travel Solution, for example, provides global,* around-the-clock assistance** and can rush-ship a temporary pair of adjustable glasses to get you through the trip, if, say, you break your pair while climbing behind a waterfall.
  7. Copy down your prescription. Store your prescription with other important travel information, like toll-free credit card numbers and (if traveling abroad) a copy of your passport. Or send a copy to yourself via email (be sure you will have Wi-Fi where you are traveling). In many cases, a local doctor can contact your optometrist for the prescription, but if traveling in different time zones you may have to wait several hours. Better to be safe.
  8. Keep your eyes clean. Long plane trips, changing climates and late nights on the town could lead to dry and/or irritated e Liquid tears or drops will lubricate your eyes and prevent discomfort. If you wear cosmetics, pack makeup remover and clean off mascara and eyeliner before hitting the pillow, to prevent infections. Also, drink plenty of water —when you’re hydrated, your eyes are hydrated.4
  9. Pack a repair kit. Many eyeglass mishaps can be remedied with a quick repair, but you can’t replace that itty-bitty screw at the edge of the frames if you don’t have 1 on hand. Eyeglass repair kits are small and won’t add much weight or bulk to your toiletry bag. Trust us, you won’t find a toothpick-sized screwdriver at Ye Olde English Hardware Store.
  10. Consider prescription sunglasses. If traveling to a sunny climate or spending a lot of time outside, a pair of 100% UV protecting, prescription sunglasses could be your best travel accessory. They are especially helpful (if not necessary) for road trips and make the sights on the beach even more attractive.
  11. Carry a small magnifying glass: OK, it might sound like secret agent stuff, but if it works, it works! A magnifying glass, moved closer or farther from the eye, can solve your immediate vision needs in a pinch until your glasses are repaired or a replacement pair arrives.

Lastly, if it’s been more than a year since you’ve had an eye exam, try to squeeze 1 in before the trip to ensure you see all those sights clearly. After all, that Mona Lisa smile is pretty subtle.

*This benefit not available in all countries. Some limitations and exclusions may apply. **Available in most cases. Check your plan benefits to be sure.


  1. For Millions of Americans, Missing Sunglasses Means Harmful Exposure to UV. The Vision Council, https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/blog/millions-americans-missing-sunglasses-means-harmful-exposure-uv. Accessed October 2018.
  2. How to Best Care for Your Prescription Glasses. All About Eyes, https://allabouteyes.com/blog/best-care-prescription-glasses/. Accessed October 2018.
  3. Can I leave my sunglasses in the car? Essilor, https://www.essilorusa.com/newsroom/can-i-leave-my-sunglasses-in-the-car. Accessed October 2018.
  4. 5 Ways to Care for Your Eyes During Travel. Healthy Travel Blog, Feb. 17, 2014, https://www.healthytravelblog.com/2014/02/17/5-ways-to-care-for-eyes-during-travel/. Accessed October 2018.