Packing a Travel Medicine Kit

12 Jun Packing a Travel Medicine Kit

Even if you’re not quite heading out to the wilds of Papua New Guinea, a thoughtfully packed travel medicine kit can save a lot of time and worry. After all, would you rather be exploring a new place or exploring a pharmacy?

Travel Medicine Kit

Although I dearly love being prepared for anything, I don’t pack the entire contents of my medicine cabinet when I travel. Besides basic first-aid supplies (antiseptic wipes, bandages, antibiotic ointment, and moleskin), here’s what I do bring.

Antihistamines and hydrocortisone lotion
Who knows why, but my family always seems to itch when we travel. It probably has to do with all the sunscreen, sweat, swimming pool chemicals, foreign food, bug repellent, or even the bugs themselves. I wouldn’t leave so much as the driveway without antihistamines, let alone the country. I need them on almost every single trip.

We also collectively come down with a lot of aches and pains as well as the occasional fever or sunburn on vacation, so I’m never without plenty of ibuprofen – more than I think we could possibly need. Before my children were old enough for chewable tablets, I would stock up on sachets of Nurofen (which are like ketchup packets, and great for air travel) every time I visited the U.K.

Electrolyte powder
Thankfully I haven’t needed them yet, but I always bring individual packets of electrolyte powder in case one of the kids vomits enough to need rehydration on our travels. They don’t take up a lot of space and come in horrible flavors like fruit punch, which most kids seem to consider a bonus.

Nyquil capsules
If you’ve ever shared a hotel room with a child who is… coughing… every… ten… minutes… all… night… long, you know why effective cough relief is a crucial part of any travel medicine kit. But enough about my recent trip to Scotland. Talk to your pediatrician about dosage before you leave, so you don’t have to Google it at 3am.

Decongestant nasal spray
Be careful with these. Overuse can actually lead to rebound congestion, believe it or not. Also, don’t use them when you’re taking an oral decongestant because that’s double dosing. I keep a bottle on hand for flights during cold season, because there is nothing more painful than landing when you’re congested. Check with your pediatrician before using on your kids.

I have a recurring nightmare in which someone in my family is simultaneously saddled with explosive traveler’s diarrhea and a nonrefundable airline ticket. Only use anti-diarrheal medication in an emergency, since there’s usually a very good reason your body is trying to purge. As with all items in a travel medicine kit, it’s better to have and not need it than need and not have it.

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Jamie Pearson
Jamie Pearson is a freelance writer, a mother of two, and the publisher of the independent family travel blog Travel Savvy Mom. She regularly writes about family travel for Vail Resorts and Homewood Suites, and her dispatches have also appeared on National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel Blog and on
Jamie Pearson

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