If you’ve ever been sick while on vacation, you know just how important it is to pack certain medications with you. If travel is in your future, consider toting these meds with you with you on your next vacation. Naturally, I’m no medical doctor, just a frequent traveller, who’s schlepped my daughter to three continents in the past decade. These are my recommendations based on personal experience, but I suggest you also seek the advice of a profession healthcare worker.
Travel medicine for children
It’s rare to find a parent without a bottle of children’s medicine stashed their purse or diaper bag. When travelling, be sure to pack an all-purpose pain reliever for children, some anti-itch medication like calamine lotion and suckers or gum to help pop ears on the plane. A nurse friend recommends Polysporin drops that can be used to treat pink eye and ear infections (common from swimming). In the event your child has intense vomiting or diarrhea, you’ll want to get an electrolyte solution in them (and see a doctor!). We’ve taken Pedialyte popsicles with us to Mexico and Africa and I’d pack them again.
How to cure a cold when travelling
Sinus infections are the worst when flying with all those pressure changes. You won’t want to forget your antibiotics, antihistamines and gum to keep passages clear. Astragalus and Vitamin C powders boosts the immune system, so I load up on those before and during flights. It’s wise to pack your favourite cough drops and any cold medications you feel you can’t live without, as they may not be sold at your destination.
Likewise, if you have back issues, it can be hard to find Robaxacet when travelling to the United States (need a prescription), so make room for your favourite meds.
How to avoid jet lag
Avoiding jet lag is challenging, but I’ve got a couple tricks up my sleeve. If you can stomach it, workout as soon as you arrive, preferably outdoors. Trust me, you’ll feel so much better. Try to eat very light on the flight and don’t tuck into a big meal until you’ve logged a few hours at your destination.
I swear by these homeopathic No-Jet-Lag pills you can buy at most health food stores. Even if it’s just a placebo, they work for me in most instances. I also throw back a Melatonin my first night and refuse to nap at my new destination until at least day two or three.
Ever been on 40-hour bus ride across the Gobi desert with a major stomach bug and no restroom facilities? No? Count yourself lucky. This is why I’m never without Imodium. Traveller’s diarrhea affects up to 70% of travelers, and is often caused by E. coli bacteria that’s transmitted by contaminated food and water. Another option besides Imodium is Dukoral, a drinkable vaccine you can buy without a prescription that protects against travellers’ diarrhea. More deets on that here.
For mild tummy troubles, I tote digestive teas like Peppermint and Traditional Medicinals Eater’s Digest. Another fave is Gin Gins candies by The Ginger People, for when I’ve got a sore throat and/or upset stomach. I also bring along probiotics, but there is some controversy over whether they do any good. I take the kind that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and even if it’s another placebo, I feel my stomach is resilient.
Can you travel with an existing medical condition?
It’s actually not as big of a deal as you might thing to carry on board prescription drugs (including morphine derivatives), insulin shots and oxygen. Basically, you just pack it all in your carry on bag. Some airlines have a chief medical officer, but all Canadian airlines follow the easy to understand guidelines of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
How to find a doctor overseas
Book yourself into a travel clinic to make sure your vaccinations are up to date. There are a number of private travel clinics in Calgary, but you need to book in several months in advance of travelling to developing countries to get all the boosters shots in. If you’re in an area where a doctor is far away, see if you can get a prescription for Cipro, a general antibiotic.
I always purchase an annual membership to International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers. It’s just a donation and in return you get a handy list of English speaking, western trained doctors around in the world. I’ve used their recommended doctors in Pakistan and India, and thought the care was totally up to snuff.
Have you ever been ill when travelling? What supplies do you wish you had with you?
Great tips. Thanks. I also will pack some heartburn medicine b.c I am going to VEGAS!
Have a great trip! Maybe pack yourself some Advil, too:)
Great tips, there is nothing worse than having a medical issue while you are on the road.
I always take with me Cammomile tea bags (to calm the stomach) and Aloe Vera gel (skin irritations, sunburn, bites etc) when I travel.
Aloe Vera gel is a great addition! Heading to Hawaii tomorrow, so I’m going to make sure I pack some.
That No Jet Lag stuff is MAGICAL. I never travel without it anymore, it is so good. I used to think homeopathic stuff like that would never work, so I was shocked. Combined with melatonin, they make dealing with long-haul flights so much easier on your body.
I’ve fortunately never had anything worse than a cold while on a trip, but it’s good to be prepared.
Finally! A fellow traveller who loves the No Jet Lag Pills!
Our travel these days is mainly short-haul, so we don’t seem to pick up many bugs. However, as we get more adventurous on the travelling front, this blog post will come in handy. Top tips, Jody.
I love Gin-Gins! I suffer from motion sickness often and I try to never fly without Gin-Gins or Dramamine!
I got sick once at the end of my 3-mo backpacking trip in Europe. Man, the meds there were so expensive!
Fantastic tips Jody. Immodium is the must have drug (or Cipro) when there are long flights or public transportation involved.
I have never tried that No-Jetlag stuff – but will on the next long flight.
I’ll have to try the jet-lag remedy. After very long flights, I arrive totally jet-lagged, and just try to push through. Sometimes it works fine, but other times I’m walking around like a zombie. Thanks for the tips.
It’s weird how jet lag can sometimes be really harsh and other times not so bad.
Great tips! I have a little bag of meds that I travel with including basic first aid items (bandaids), pain relievers, cold medicines, rehydration crystals and antibiotics in case of travelers diarrhoea (b/c dukerol only really works where the issue is e coli, not other bugs).
That sounds like a fantastic travel kit, Merry. And you’re right about Dukoral with e coli versus other bugs. Good mention.
After a trip to Russia when I came down with the flu and bronchitis, I always carry some throat lozenges, cold medicine and Advil with me. I ended up so sick in Russia that I had to go to a Russian pharmacy to get some meds. Lord only knows what I was taking!
I travel with pain/fever relievers for my daughter and Children’s Dramamine. Immodium for sure. Hunting down medicines in foreign pharmacies is too tough sometimes!
I had no idea they made Children’s Dramamine. I don’t think we can get it in Canada, but since I’m in the US this week I’m going to hunt it down.
On my last trip I made an early morning trip to a local pharmacy because I couldn’t last one more minute without the OTC sinus meds I forgot to pack. It’s so much nicer to be prepared!