How To

Packing 101: Medical Essentials When Traveling Abroad

  • May 23, 2017

Now that you’ve followed all of my handy tips on packing for an extended trip, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of what you actually need to pack. One of the first things I started gathering in preparation for my upcoming travels to Cambodia is medication and first aid supplies. There are certain things I bring with me on every trip, and while I haven’t needed 90% of it most of the time, having it on hand always makes me feel better. The last thing you want to do when traveling is have to unnecessarily navigate a foreign pharmacy. Been there, done that.

First, prescription medications. Obviously you’ll want to bring an adequate supply of prescription meds that you’re already taking. But you should also consider asking your doctor for a few extras, especially if you plan to be gone awhile or are going to be staying in a rural area. Here’s what I always keep with me (some of which will only be applicable to my fellow females):

  • Antibiotics
  • Ondansetron (anti-nausea)
  • Fluconazole (yeast infections)
  • Ciprofloxacin (UTIs)
  • Malaria pills (This will depend on where you’re traveling. I got mixed reviews on whether or not to take them when traveling through rural parts of Southeast Asia, and ultimately decided against it because of the side effects. But it might be worth it to fill a prescription and take them with you anyway.)

Next up, over the counter meds and first aid supplies. You might look at this list and think, “I’ve never taken Pepto in my life; why would I suddenly need it now?” But travel does funky things to your body, and it’s hard to predict how you’ll react to local food, water, air, etc. Even if you don’t usually keep these items on hand in your regular life, knowing that you have access to them while traveling abroad  will give you peace of mind. I recommend packing:

  • Antihistamine (Loratadine and Benadryl)
  • Nasal decongestant
  • Cough medicine/drops
  • Anti diarrhea (DO NOT SKIP THIS ONE)
  • Electrolyte powder/tablets
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Tums
  • Ibuprofen/acetaminophen
  • Multivitamins
  • Bandaids
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Medical tape
  • Bug spray (I’m relatively au naturale about what I put in and on my body, but this is one thing I don’t mess around with, especially in tropical climates. Give me 25% DEET or give me malaria.)
  • Sunscreen (Ditto for sunscreen. The sun on the equator is no joke.)

These lists are by no means comprehensive, and will largely depend on where you’re traveling. What you pack for a week-long stay in Jamaica is going to be different than what you take on a three-month trek through India. But if you’re going abroad and plan to stay awhile, be prepared!

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