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International Travel and Modafinil [2024 A-Z Guide]

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Plan on making an international trip? Modafinil is definitely one of the things you’d want to pack to deal with time zone changes, help you maintain focus, and stay productive. However, the thing is that it is not just some vitamin or dietary supplement that you can carry along with you on every flight – it is a prescription medication.

International Travel and Modafinil

Consequently, there are certain things you must know to enable you to avoid losing your precious stash to authorities. You’ll find out everything you need to know about international travel and modafinil in this article. Let’s get started!

What Is Modafinil?

Modafinil is a powerful medication with cognitive-enhancing effects. It increases alertness, brightens mood, boosts memory, increases focus, and ultimately boosts productivity. This is why it is common among big-time entrepreneurs, top-level executives of Fortune 500 corporations, engineers, celebrities, analysts, and even students. Countless people from different parts of the world have used it to improve performance remarkably and attain heights they once thought never possible.

Funny enough, the creators of modafinil did not intend for it to be used as a cognitive enhancer. The novel drug was originally developed in France as an experimental treatment for narcolepsy. Following its success, proven to be both safe and effective, the French medical society began prescribing it in 1994 under the brand name Modiodal.

Later in 1998, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for treating narcolepsy and later extended the approval to cover two other sleep disorders: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and shift work sleep disorder (SWSD). As expected, the drug became a huge success, with more than 900,000 prescriptions written in 2017, making it the 328th most prescribed medication that year [1].

Although the FDA does not support modafinil’s off-label use as a cognitive enhancer due to limited research, thousands of people continue to use it for this purpose. This is due to the fact that it works while causing few to no side effects and has a surprisingly low potential for addiction compared to other drugs such as Adderall [2].

Modafinil Smart Drugs

Modafinil is safe, but it has side effects like every other drug, especially when misused. It is only approved for use in individuals who are 17 years of age and older. What’s more, it may interact negatively with some other drugs in a way that could make it ineffective or increase the risk of adverse effects. Consult a doctor before taking this medication or any other [3].

Basics About International Travel and Modafinil

Each time you make an international flight and cross time zones, your body’s internal clock that informs it about when to stay alert and when to go to sleep loses track of time. This is what is called jet lag. It is characterized by feeling unwell, gastrointestinal problems, difficulty staying alert, and excessive daytime fatigue that can affect mental function and ultimately hamper productivity.

Now, the bad news is that the effects of jet lag could last anywhere from a few days to weeks following travel [4]. Given how disorienting the symptoms can be, this could mean that whatever purpose you’ve traveled to accomplish may not go as planned. In fact, most people have reported finding their vacations uneventful or having their business go poorly.

But how do presidents, governors, military personnel, and business executives manage? How are they able to cross timezones for presentations, company future-deciding meetings, proceedings, or talks and still stay at the top of their game?

Well, they all have a little secret – modafinil or other “smart drugs” like it!

Over the years, several top US federal government officials have been suspected of the non-prescription use of modafinil to beat jet lag and function optimally.

Let’s talk about one of the past presidents of the United States, Barack Obama. In 2010, he delivered speeches so flawlessly that reporters suspected that he was using modafinil off-label. Suspicions increased, with many concluding that he had to be taking modafinil when his released medical report showed that he was taking a prescription (Rx) drug to drown the effects of jet lag after crossing several time zones [5].

Further proof is that his doctor, Navy Captain Jeffery Kuhlman, admitted that Obama was actually taking something to fight off fatigue and excessive sleepiness due to jet lag, but he didn’t say what drug he (Obama) was taking.

However, when several sleep doctors were asked what they think he might have been taking, most of them said that their best guess was modafinil. Even the medical director of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois, Dr. Lisa Shives, suspected modafinil. She said, “…If they’re going to give him something to wake him up, Provigil is the way to go.” Note that Provigil is the brand name for modafinil.

Benefits of Traveling with Modafinil Drug

Modafinil offers a lot of benefits, and fighting off jet lag is just one of them. Here are 10 other benefits of traveling with this med, as shared by random “smart drug” enthusiasts.

Modafinil Increases Focus

Focus is the bedrock of productivity. It is the gateway to thinking, learning, decision-making, and problem-solving. Results will be limited without focus. Thus, if the reason for your airplane travel across time zones revolves around work, you just might need modafinil.


Modafinil Enhances Alertness

Although its cognitive effects on the brain are yet to be fully understood, modafinil is known to promote wakefulness that ultimately brings about increased alertness. Research conducted on healthy adults to ascertain the drug’s performance in restoring their alertness during sleep deprivation indicated its efficacy [6].

Modafinil Eliminates Fatigue

The major reason modafinil is used by military pilots is that it keeps the body strong and able to execute tasks once the mind is willing. The drug keeps pilots wide awake, focused, and alert even after going for days without sleep. On a day you’re supposed to fall asleep after a long multi-timezone-crossing flight, modafinil might just be what you need to keep you sharp and active throughout that meeting, presentation, or work.

Modafinil Increases Motivation for Work

Ever been in a situation in which you have a time-sensitive task you really want to perform, but then somehow you can’t just find the drive to jump out of your seat and execute it? Situations like that are usually due to a lack of motivation, and modafinil has proven to boost motivation in healthy individuals, as confirmed by one study. It revealed that the drug can help increase the motivation people have to work, and this helps them to put in even more effort and ultimately increase productivity [7].

Modafinil Boosts Memory

Traveling across different time zones can stress you out, and stress works against memory. If your purpose of traveling internationally requires you to think productively, modafinil may prove important in keeping you at the top of your game. It has been found to have a tremendous effect on memory. Several studies carried out have highlighted the drug’s ability to improve the performance of both episodic and working memory [8].

Modafinil Improves Mood

Whether you need to be calm and collected when you’re traveling or need to be excited and have fun, modafinil can make it possible. Research has shown that although little, modafinil has an overall positive impact on mood [9].

Modafinil Reduces Decision Impulsivity

Great decision-making is key to achieving great results in whatever one sets out to do. Fatigue from traveling internationally could cause disorientation and affect quality decision-making. Scientists believe that if there’s a way modafinil can improve decision-making, it will be by reducing impulsivity. The drug has shown to have an effect in this regard and may thus help you make better choices that could ultimately fetch you better results.

Modafinil Increases Productivity

Thanks to modafinil’s ability to boost memory, increase alertness, and improve focus, it can increase productivity. Many have reported being able to work for long hours while maintaining remarkable focus.

Modafinil Is Super-Affordable

Modafinil is cheaper than coffee; while a cup goes for about $4 at Starbucks, one 200 mg tablet of this drug can cost as little as $0.80 depending on where you buy it. This is not even factoring in the fact that modafinil is more effective than coffee. Thus, if you’ve been wondering, “Is it safe to say that modafinil saves you money while keeping you at your best performance?” the answer is yes, it is.

Modafinil Has Few to No Side Effects

Unlike coffee that makes you jittery or Adderall that poses a risk of addiction, modafinil is safe and effective – when used correctly. What’s more, it does not cause energy crashes as its effects wear off, so users experience no downtime at all. Modafinil has such a low potential for addiction and minimal side effects that Oxford and Harvard researchers deemed it the “world’s first safe ‘smart drug.’”

Like bread and butter, international travel and modafinil make a great combination. With a small supply of high-quality modafinil tabs, you can be sure to escape jet lag, boost cognitive function, and ultimately increase productivity. And you know what’s even more interesting? It’s the fact that you can get a pill for under $1.

Is It Illegal to Travel with Modafinil?

Yes and no. If you have a prescription, then yes, it may be legal to travel with modafinil. If you don’t have one, then no.

Prescription Pills

Modafinil is a prescription medication, and most countries are usually strict about what goes across their borders, especially drugs. However, if you have a valid prescription from a licensed physician, traveling with it may not be considered illegal. Hence, for this case, we’d say, “No, it is not illegal to travel with modafinil.”

It is worth noting that laws revolving around modafinil and other prescription drugs can vary tremendously from country to country. Be sure to read up on the laws and drug regulations of any country you intend to travel to.

Is It Possible to Bring Modafinil on a Plane?

Yes, it’s possible. However, there’s a certain way you should carry it to avoid long, unnecessary talks.

Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts for you:

  • Do not put modafinil pills in your checked luggage. The best way to go is to put the pills in a normal pillbox and then keep the box in your carry-on baggage. Avoid the temptation of putting modafinil in your checked luggage. This is because checked luggage delivery can often be delayed or it can even get lost, and who knows how easy it’ll be to replace the drug once you get into the country.
  • Do not move or act suspiciously. Airport officials are always on the lookout for individuals who are sweaty or acting weird or suspiciously. If you’re found acting in any of the ways described, you may be taken to a private room for thorough search and questioning. We’re guessing you wouldn’t want this. Keep your cool at all times so as not to draw unnecessary attention to yourself.

Now, you know how to bring modafinil on a plane with you. The next thing you should know is the safe number of pills to carry along. Well, although the allowable limit may vary from country to country, with some countries having no limit at all, the safest quantity to carry is 30 tabs. This is a month’s supply.

There are some people who carry a 2- to 3-month supply so they won’t run out of the drug during their stay, but in such a case, they just push their luck, as some countries may accept it, while others won’t. If you’re going to spend several months in the country, what you can do is take only a month’s supply (30 tabs) as recommended and then buy and have the rest shipped via a reputable e-pharmacy once you’re in the country.

Are There Any Concerns?

Unless you’re traveling to Japan, the United Arab Emirates, or Singapore, there are really no concerns or cause for alarm. If it turns out you’re traveling to one of those countries, then you have to be extremely careful and adhere strictly to the do’s and don’ts as listed in the previous section. Singapore has zero tolerance for drugs and often dish out severe punishment for minor drug-related charges or even jail terms. Be sure to go along with a note from your pharmacist, as well as a valid prescription. Also, under no circumstances should you attempt to carry more than a 30-day supply.

Final Thoughts: Modafinil for Travelers

Modafinil is an excellent wake-promoting drug for anyone looking to fight off excessive daytime sleepiness and beat the symptoms of jet lag. Its ability to increase alertness, boost memory, improve creativity, and make people function optimally even under stressful situations makes it a must-pack for international travels.

Remember to follow all the instructions discussed in this article when going on international travels with modafinil. As a recap, do not take more than a 30-day supply, do not act or move in a suspicious manner, and lastly carry the pills in your carry-on baggage and not in your checked luggage. Most importantly, go with your prescription and a note from your doctor if you have one.

Modafinil is safe and effective and usually causes few to no side effects if used correctly. Consult your doctor before starting treatment with this drug.


  1. Modafinil. Retrieved: October 13, 2021.
  2. Adderall vs. Modafinil: How Do They Compare? By Editorial Staff. Retrieved: October 13, 2021.
  3. Modafinil | CS Mott Children’s Hospital | Michigan Medicine. Retrieved: October 13, 2021.
  4. Jet Lag and Sleep. Written By Eric Suni. Medically reviewed by Dr. Abhinav Singh. Retrieved: October 13, 2021.
  5. The White House Mystery Drug. By Barbara Kantrowitz. Retrieved: October 13, 2021.
  6. Effects of Modafinil on Cognitive Performance and Alertness During Sleep Deprivation. By Nancy J. Wesensten. Retrieved: October 13, 2021.
  7. Lifestyle Use of Drugs by Healthy People for Enhancing Cognition, Creativity, Motivation, and Pleasure. By L‐S Camilla d’Angelo, George Savulich, and Barbara J. Sahakian. Retrieved: October 13, 2021.
  8. Effect of Pharmacological Enhancement on the Cognitive and Clinical Psychomotor Performance of Sleep-Deprived Doctors: A Randomized Controlled Trial. By Colin Sugden, Charlotte R. Housden, et al. Retrieved: October 13, 2021.
  9. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Crossover Trial of Modafinil on Mood. By Indu Taneja, Kirsten Haman, et al. Retrieved: October 13, 2021.