Packing Tip #1: Have you packed your medication?

While this blog post doesn’t contain medical advice, we want to make sure that your upcoming travel is safe and that you stay healthy while abroad. Before we launch into our recommendations, we want to say one thing: consult with a travel doctor before your journey. A travel doctor will be able to advise you on any necessary vaccinations, will help you plan anything to do with your existing prescriptions and help you navigate over the counter drugs with different names in those different countries. We actually wrote about over the counter drugs in other countries here. Now that we got that out of the way, read on for some packing tips to stay healthy abroad.

Packing Tip #2: Bring your prescription medication

If you take prescription medication, you already know that you have to bring it with you. But you might be surprised to learn how often it gets left behind. There’s nothing scarier than reaching into your bag for your pills and coming up empty handed. Keep your prescription medication nearby or on top of your luggage the night before departure so that you can be safe knowing that it’s handy for when you travel. We also advise you to keep your medicine inside your carry-on luggage for easy access and to keep it safe from luggage thieves. It’s rare, but it happens.

Plan for the length of your travel and remove all uncertainty by bringing enough prescription medication with you. As a matter of fact, bring at least one week’s worth of extra dosage to account for any delays. Even the best laid plans cannot account for missed connections and cancelled reservations. Having extra doses of medication with you will relieve you of a frantic search for emergency refills in foreign lands.

While TSA guidelines do not require passengers to have medications in prescription bottles, some states have different laws regarding labelling of prescription medication. Other countries also have restrictions regarding importation of certain medicines (for example: Sudafed is banned in Japan). Check government websites for restrictions before you bring your medication to another country or transport it to a different state. Your travel doctor will be able to help in this regard as well. Just to be on the safe side, keep your prescriptions in their original bottles in case you are questioned about your medicines in another country.

If your prescriptions must be taken at an exact time, your cell phone’s clock will come in handy. Travelers aren’t always aware that they’ve crossed a time zone boundary. And when they are, jet lag and travel excitement are bound to confuse even the most diligent prescription drug takers. Add your destination city’s time to the clock app on any Apple or Android phone and keep it on your home screen so that you have the accurate time no matter where (or when) you are.

General over the counter medication to pack

You’ve packed your prescription medication, but what about those over the counter medicines? A few basic over the counter medications will complete your travel first aid kit for journeys of any length. While plentiful in the US, over the counter medications might be difficult to obtain in your destination country, even in their generic form. Especially if they have a different name (we wrote about that here). Below is a simple list of over the counter medications to bring with you to avoid a hassle.

Medication #1 – Antibiotic ointment

A common brand of antibiotic ointment is Neosporin. Antibiotic ointment can be used to treat minor cuts on your skin to kill bacteria before it spreads. If you are a nature adventurer or just slightly clumsy, you may want to pack a travel size tube of the ointment with you.

Medication #2 – Antidiarrheal

Look, nobody expects to get diarrhea when they travel, but it’s quite common. Whether you touched an unclean surface or drank some questionable water, you can help control this unwanted visitor with common over-the- counter medicines like Imodium or Pepto-Bismol. Though both are accessible across North America and Europe, this is the type of over the counter drug that you’ll want to keep in your bag and not have to venture out of your hotel room to obtain.

Travel constipation is another bit of unpleasantness that seems to afflict travelers often. If you have experienced this before, you can pack a mild laxative with you if you so choose, but the best way to avoid this is to drink plenty of water, eat enough fiber, and stay active on your trip.

Medication #3 – Motion sickness medication

For short trips by plane or boat… or car… or any form of transportation that moves in a way that just doesn’t sit right with you, pack some motion sickness medication such as Dramamine. Throw-up bags are a reactive measure, so be proactive on your journey.

Medication #4 – OTC for you and me

There are over the counter medicines that are just for you. Medicines that you know you are likely going to need based on previous experience. If you have asthma or allergies, you should pack a supply of pills or sprays to last the entirety of your trip.

At On Vacation Doctor our purpose is to help world travelers find English speaking health care professionals no matter what country they’re located in.

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