What medicine should I take while traveling? Being a pharmacist myself, I get the urge to carry a whole lot of medicine with me. Specially that I get them for free from my father’s pharmacy!
After a few times traveling, though, I learned that some medicine is more important than others when traveling. Some you have to have a stock of, and others that are just a waste of space in your backpack (or bags in general.)
First of all, if you are taking any prescription medicines, or long term treatment medicines for any chronic diseases then this is a must take with you and with big numbers, enough for your traveling period.
Now to my favorite Travel Medicine list:
This is my number one favorite drug; it works on so many things! Its main use is anti-inflammatory and analgesic (it is from the NSAIDs family.)
Usually I take two dosage forms of Diclofenac with me, the first is the water soluble powder sachets “Catafast”, which is very fast acting, and also very strong.
The main purpose I carry at least 2 packets with me is that I usually get tooth aches from time to time, and this powder quickly kills the pain, making me able to go to sleep again.
The second dosage form I carry is the tablets “Cataflam”, also fast acting but definitely slower than the powder, although with a longer lasting effect. I use it for headaches, also for tooth aches and other painful encounters and bruises, or any ‘strong’ inflammation conditions.
But the use of Diclofenac doesn’t just stop here!
We are all bound to get a little flu when traveling, and Diclofenac, while it doesn’t have any antibacterial or antiviral effects, it does help big time on alleviating the flu symptoms! All of the feeling tired, fever, bone aches that accompany the annoying flu, could be treated with this strong NSAID!
*NSAID = Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug.
Alternatives to Diclofenac: Strong Ibuprofen (Ibuprofen 600 is my favorite) or strong Paracetamol, although I’m not a very big fan of Paracetamol, it is always rather weak.
Loratidine is a strong anti-histaminic drug, from the family that does NOT cause drowsiness, however I would still advise taking it one pill before sleeping, unless in very strong conditions then a pill every 12 hours is advised.
Mosquito bites? Ants bites? Sun burns? Food allergy (mild)? All of that crap can be easily treated with anti-histaminics, Loratidine is just a personal favorite, and with that I have to mention that Claritine (brand name) is my personal favorite.
But it doesn’t stop here! Remember that annoying flu that half of its symptoms were treated with Diclofenac? A pill of Claritine will treat the rest of the symptoms, drying up that runny embarrassing nose! It always works like magic for me!
Nifuroxazide is a very strong anti diarrheal and intestinal anti septic, I always carry a few packs of that with me, because we all know we are going to get diarrhea one day or another while traveling! Especially when you are trying to dive into the food culture or keep it cheap and eating street food all the time.
For me, my personal favorite brand of Nifuroxazide is called Antinal, but that is a local Egyptian brand (if you are ever there, stock up on that, really good!)
When I get diarrhea, I usually start with 2 pills together, then taking 1 pill three times a day until it’s over.
Alongside with the anti diarrheal medicine must come the other side of the digestive system, in case you get really bad vomiting issues, I also travel with a pack of Motilium (Chemical name: Domeperidone)
And while I’m at it, I also take a pack of Dimenhydrinate, in case I’ll be going on a ship, to prevent sea sickness and motion sickness, although I rarely get them anyway…
Cortisone based cream
For me, I usually take Mometasone. Specifically a cream called Elecon. Without much explanation, it is obvious I’ll use it to get rid of the itching and allergy caused by mosquito bites or any other insect bites.
Other Travelers’ Thoughts
I also asked some of the other travel bloggers about medicines they make sure they never run out of and here some of the responses I got:
*Greg from Adventures of a Good Man: Aspirin is the #1 medicine I always have with me in every bag. Does hand sanitizer count?
Well, yes it counts if you buy it from a pharmacy (the money hungry pharmacist in me speaking.)
*Corinne McDermott from Have Baby Will Travel: Since I travel with my kids, I always have with me children’s ibuprofen, children’s antihistamine, antibiotic ointment, a couple of oral rehydration pops, and a zinc-based diaper cream that is effective on lots of skin irritations and bug bites. Better safe than sorry – or searching for a pharmacy in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar place!
*Michele Herrmann: Ibuprofen for aches and of course antacids and diarrhea meds (for obvious reasons.)
*Natasha Reid: Cold & Flu tablets – Because there is nothing worse than having a day ruined by flu-ey symptoms – best to have something to knock it off fast.
*Robert Schrader from Leave Your Daily Hell: Charcoal tabs for food poisoning.
*Donna Leftwich Hull from My Itchy Travel Feet: Zyrtec for allergies, Ibuprofen and anti-diarrhea meds.
Zyrtec is also a very good and powerful substitute for my Claritine (anti-allergic meds)
*Jenna Francisco from This Is My Happiness: Benadryl or Tylenol PM as a sleep aid on the airplane and when trying to adjust to a new time zone.
*Alouise Dittrick from Traveler Ahoy: I seem to get a cold often when I travel so I take along this over the counter product called ColdFX – it works pretty well at getting rid of and shortening colds. I also always have Tylenol and/or Advil, as well as Gravol (the non-drowsy kind).
*Amy Moore from Everything Everywhere: Always have Pepto Bismol.
*Aleah Phils from Solitary Wanderer: Tylenol, and cold, cough, and diarrhea tablets.
*Roving Jay: Savlon – it’s a British antiseptic cream, that even though I live in the US now, I always pick up when I’m going through the UK, and take it with me on all travels. But any antiseptic would do. Nothing worse than getting a small tiny scratch or cut, that gets infected, and then hurts like hell. So always like having some Savlon to sort it out.
*Stacey Kuyf from One Travels Far: I always get eaten alive by bugs (obviously I just taste nice and sweet or something) and they usually get extremely swollen and infected so I always travel with antihistamines and a topical antibiotic so I can be prepared.
*Rachel Loerch from Rachel’s Rantings: Multivitamins. They are usually so expensive in other countries plus it makes me feel like my body will better handle the change in food, environment, etc (though I doubt it actually does).
They actually do help your body cope with changes, you got that right. Plus they are good for energy too, way better than the so called ‘energy drinks’
*Billie Frank from The Santa Fe Travelers: I always travel with a natural “pharmacy”. Essential oils, grapefruit seed extract, charcoal pills, a few homeopathic remedies and an antihistamine. Biggest weapon is a personal air purifier that I wear on planes. Keeps me healthy when flying!
Natural medicine although not always the fastest treatment but it is always the best option (unless fast action is required) as it has less diverse effects (It does have diverse effects if taken in wrong doses, so still be careful, natural doesn’t always mean 100% safe.)
*Jen Miner: I don’t see it here yet, but when I travel overseas I always, always pack melatonin. It’s OTC and I don’t take prescription drugs to help me sleep or adjust to new time zones; two melatonin pills the first 3 or so nights and I’m well adjusted to being 9 hours ahead (or whatever the case may be) of my usual internal body clock.
*Katie Coakley from Katie On The Map: I usually bring BC powder (great for headaches), allergy meds and Cipro (just in case–great for…stomach issues and it’s free when you have a doctor’s prescription).
*Vera Marie Badertscher from A traveler’s Library: Prescription medicines. I’ve never paid attention to the rule about keeping them in the original container, because I have so many that would fill a small suitcase, but I do take a list and my doctor’s phone number in case there are any questions.
Two incidents abroad: In Brugge, I needed Imodium. A pharmacist said, oh yes, we have that. They did. By the same name, but looked different. In Sydney airport, my husband had a cold and we could find NO standard medicine, only homeopathic, which we weren’t familiar with–and which didn’t help him when he tried them.
The packages sometimes differ from one country to the other, so it doesn’t really matter what the package looks like. Just check that it has the same chemical name, that would work even if it was a totally different trade name. Make sure it is the active ingredient you need and in the right concentration.
*Chris-Jill Palmer from Going Anyway: Antibiotics for mastitis. Breast feeding makes traveling with a baby easy, but mastitis without antibiotics is so very bad.
*Marcie Grynblat Pellicano from Abrindo o Bico: Antibiotics, Imodium, Prilosec. And whatever prescriptions I’m taking at the time.
*Dani Blanchette from Going Nomadic: I always have antibiotics. but now loosing health insurance in the USA, and having drugs be so cheap and OTC in South America…I stocked up on antibiotics, Tylenol 3, codeine cough syrup (I like to get bronchitis and can’t take regular cough syrup) in S. America before I came back here.
And my Epi (for bee allergy). So now instead of the epipen, I have 3 vials with really, scary long needles to use if I get stung…But I got it for free in Colombia and it would cost me a couple hundred (Dr. then Rx) in USA.
*Gillian Duffy from One Giant Step: I will soon be researching (and posting) about prescription medication while traveling long term. When on our 1 yr RTW I took enough of my Crohn’s meds with me to cover the time away but now that we’re leaving indefinitely I’m looking to see how to manage this from on-the-road. Any advice is appreciated!
And here is a very good reply that she got from Marcie: my doctor, in NY, had a suggestion for long time travelers: get a prescription valid in Canada (canadadrugsonline.com) with refills – they will ship it to you wherever you are.
*Jeremy Jones: Imodium, contact lens solution, and a roll of toilet paper. Don’t ask me why I put contact lens solution in that list.
I think because you always buy them from the pharmacy? (Again that is the money hungry pharmacist in me speaking. We are bad people. BAAAAD I tell ya!)
*Angela Corrias from Chasing the Unexpected: Activated charcoal, propolis, Echinacea, vitamin C powder and some essential oils for different needs. Preparing a post myself on how my travel beauty case has changed through these years of travels.
*Theodora from Escape Artistes: The most important things are strong broad spectrum antibiotics and a thermometer, for if we’re somewhere really remote and one of us gets sick. Also paracetamol against fever and pain, rehydration salts and, in the tropics, doxycycline against malaria.
*Dustin Main from Skinny Backpacker: Ibuprofen, doxy and cipro.
Never forget the essentials as well, condoms and contraceptive pills. You never know when they will get in handy and it’s not always nice/easy to go looking for them in a different country, specially condoms!
So what medicine do you take with you while traveling? Share your experience with other travelers! Also if you have any questions regarding medicine while traveling I’d be more than happy to answer them as much as I can (I call my father when I’m stuck, he’s got 30+ years experience in Pharmacy and Medicine 😀 )