Essential Travel Medication
A first aid kit is typically a no-brainer when it comes to travel. Most people know to have the basics handy. Bandaids, surgical tape, gauze, etc. But. over the years we've seen too many people get injured, ill or worse on trips and not have access to the over-the-counter medications that they need. Now, we never go on a trip without this essential travel medication kit.
The goal is to not to need it, of course, but sometimes unavoidable things happen and these over-the-counter medications make things a whole lot more comfortable. I'd be remiss to write this article without crediting my Mom – the queen of what's been dubbed “The Drug Bag” in our family over the years. Got food poisoning? Mom's got you. Sprain your ankle? She's got you. Come down with travelers diarrhea? Bummer…but she's got you. Walk into a hornet's nest on a hike (yeah, that happened)? Mom definately has something for that.
The Drug Bag Disclaimer
Now before go down the drug bag rabbit hole, please remember… we're not physicians or nurses. We have no medical training (aside from first aid & CPR) and we're not making recommendations. We're just sharing what we personally take with us in hopes that it might be useful to you. You should always consult your doctor and get the green light before taking any new medications.
OK, let's rock and roll. I've broken this down into three categories for you. These are all products that we actually carry with us. I'm sure there are alternatives and works well for us might not work for you. You should find what does!
Phew, that's a lot of disclaimers but you get it right? Don't be stupid. Don't take things you're not sure about. Check with your doc. We're not medical professionals.
Essential Travel Medication Kit for Travelers
First, get yourself an awesome, durable, cute bag to organize your travel medication in. For a long time we used a big ziplock bag (and sometimes we still do) but investing in a proper carry case makes life easier. Supplies are easier to keep organized, protected from damage, and more discrete to transport if you go with a case.
Here are a few we're loving:
Over The Counter Medications for Travel
We usually carry both Advil and Tylenol with us. When we can, we opt for a natural alternative but if an injury happens or a migrane strikes while you're traveling, it's nice to have a source of relief. Medications like this are typcially very expensive in travel destinations (especially on resorts, cruise ships or in hotels) so we always carry it with us.
Stoppers and Starters
Do I need to describe this? If you eat something that doesn't agree with you (in either direction) you'll want to be able to control the eject button (if you know what I'm saying). We always bring a mild laxative like Senicot or Restorolax as well as Immodium whether we're away from 2 nights or 10.
Bugs – they exist. And try as we might to avoid getting bitten, stung, or finding ourselves in contact with something that irritates our skin it's just unavoidable. There are all kinds of options out there but these are the brand we like:
It never fails when I travel. The first few bites for me are torture. They get inflammed, swollen and they fester (gross, I know) so keeping the above handy for the itch and some anti-bacterial cream around to mitigate any infestion is key for me. Also great for cuts, scrapes, and blisters.
Anti-Nausea Medication (Gravol)
I can hear the peanut gallery now… “But Sara, just use ginger tablets”. Listen, if that works for you – awesome! But I've tried them and they just plain don't work for me. Nothing can ruin an excursion or a road trip like vommiting for hours so I go straight to Gravol liquid gels.
This is one we don't use often (well, we actually rarely use any of them) but on more than one occasion we've been thankful to have it. Twice now (on group trips) someone has had a severe reaction to something… BENEDRYL saved the day. We always carry it. Note: If you have an allergic reaction (this happened to us), make sure you get to a medical clinic ASAP!
Antacids & Indigestion Relief
Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach… you know the song. These aren't terrible things but they can make for a super uncomfortable trip.
First Aid Supplies for Travel
When it comes to a basic first aid kit – the ready-made packs will do in a pinch. But, if you're a seasoned and frequent traveler I'd suggest DIYing your own based on your brand preferences and travel style. For example, I like those old super sticky fiber bandaids over the newer plastic ones that just don't seem to stick. I also know I'll likely get blisters so I also carry larger bandages for that. See what I mean?
Bandages, Gauze, Surgical Tape
These are the usual suspects (as mentioned above) but here are the bandages I love:
These probably aren't necessary for most people but our trips tend to be adventure heavy. We kayak, hike, climb, crawl, raft, etc… and injuries happen. If we know we're doing some substantial hikes (specifically) we always bring a couple of elastic bandages and we're used them! We've had broken bones, sprained ankles and twisted knees on our hiking trips and without these bandages, we would have been in a world of hurt. They're inexpensive, lightweight and easy to pack.
If a wound is open, it needs to be clean. Straight up, I don't think there's anything better than old school alcohol wipes. They're crazy inexpensive, easy to pack and they'll last a long time.
Scissors & Tweezers
Any other pickers and diggers out there? It's weird, I know, but I'm that girl who would be delighted to dig a splinter out of your heel for you. But it's torture without great tweezers. Invest in these two little guys once, keep them in your kit and you're good to go forever (or at least a long time).
Natural Remedies for Travel
You probably noticed that I linked up some natural products in the Travel Medication section but there are a few other essential products that I bring on all of my trips. I've linked everything here to make it super easy for you to shop for yourself (also, amazon is often less expensive than buying at the pharmacy).
Tick & Bug Spray
Essential oil based bug repellant have become my new best friend. There are a few brands out there that we're loving and we've found them to be as effective as yucky deet! I'm obsessed with AtlaTick Repellant Products (you can shop their store HERE) and also the Take a Hike spray by All Things Jill.
Sunscreen is important (obviously) but slathering something full of chemicals all over your skin is a concern. We switched over to mineral, biodegradable and eco-friendly sunscreens a while ago. It's better for you (yay) but also doesn't harm the ecosystem (traditional sunscreen is killing the choral reef, FYI) so it makes you a more responsible traveler.
Saje Pocket Pharmacy
Not available on Amazon but it's going on the list because I love this and I take it everywhere with me! This pocket pharmacy has 5 different essential oil rollers that can be used for a variety of things. My absolute favorite is the peppermint halo.
Remember what I told you about anti-nausea remedies? The natural kind doesn't work for me but a lot of people swear by them so I'm linking a couple that friends and family love here. If you have a brand you love, let me know about it!
Tiger Balm or Arnica Spray
Back when I was a distance runner and ultra hiker (like 30-50km at once) I swore by these two products. In fact, they worked so well for me I've skipped over linking to something like A5-35 all together because, in my opinion, these work far better, they smell amazing and they aren't full of gross ingredients that are terrible for you.
The Forgotten Parts
There are two areas that take a pounding when we're in the elements… our lips and our part (mostly the ladies). For whatever reason, I'm constantly forgetting to apply sunscreen to these two areas but I've found a couple of products I really love for both. Lip balm with SPF is easy enough (I like natural, as usual). My hairline and part is another story. The last thing I want is greasy hair full of sunscreen but there's a great solution… Mineral powder!
I hope this list of essential travel medication is helpful for you. I know it sounds a little extensive but everything I've mentioned packs quite nicely in one little travel case (a small cosmetic bag). I don't carry the entire box of each thing, only a foil pack of each. Any essential oils I bring, are in tiny travel-size containers as well.
What did I miss in this essential travel medication kit? Is there anything you would add that's been helpful on your travels? Let us know!
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