We’ve all been there – you’re packing for your next vacation and opening your medicine cabinet … only to scratch your head at what to include in your suitcase. Packing the right medical supplies can mean the difference between a quick recovery and serious derailment to your trip.
Internal medicine specialist Dr. Carl Hughes (seen above in Greece) sees patients every day at Tryon Medical Partners to guide them through their health issues. As a frequent traveler himself, he provides some key information about what medical supplies you should bring on any journey.
1. Your daily meds (and extra!).
Dr. Hughes is quick to point out the most important item to remember: your daily medications. If you have kids, make sure theirs are packed as well. Going through airport security with medications shouldn’t be an issue, even with insulin and syringes, so Dr. Hughes encourages bringing as much as you need for the trip plus an additional five day’s worth, just in case.
“Keep any important medications in your carry-on bag,” Dr. Hughes advises. “So that even if you lose your checked luggage, your medication won’t stay in New York City while you head to Italy without it.”
2. A list of your daily medications.
In addition to the medications themselves, Dr. Hughes recommends bringing a printed list of your daily medications to keep on your person (alongside a passport). This list would be critical in case of emergency, especially if you’re traveling to somewhere where you don’t speak the local language.
“This list would be helpful in a variety of situations,” Dr. Hughes points out. “From something small, like having to go to the clinic, to an emergency trip to the hospital. Having a list of medications ready to go can keep the process as smooth as possible.”
3. Medication for nausea or diarrhea.
It’s very common to experience stomach upset while traveling. Extensive time spent sitting on an airplane or in the car coupled with changes in diet and varied quality of food and water is a recipe for an upset stomach. Dr. Hughes advises that you bring an anti-nausea medication like Zofran or an antidiarrheal like loperamide or bismuth subsalicylate tablets.
“My friend accompanied me on a trip to Central America and he got very sick from something we ate while there,” Dr. Hughes shares. “Luckily, I had medication for him and the next day he was fine. Otherwise, we would’ve spent the next day searching for a clinic somewhere.”
4. General pain-reliever.
As a rule of thumb, Dr. Hughes advises bringing any medical supplies with you that you use every week or every other week. For many, this includes a general pain reliever to help with anything from a sore muscle to a headache.
“You can almost always find a pharmacy at your destination, and it can turn into an adventure to check out local pharmacies,” Dr. Hughes points out. “However, it’s always nice to have what you need on you so you’re ready to go wherever you are.”
5. Anti-itch medication.
Especially when you may be dealing with insect bites (like mosquitos), a topical anti-itch cream can make your travels much more comfortable.
6. Sleep aids.
If you frequently use a medical sleep aid to help you keep to a regular sleep schedule, it’s an important item to remember. However, even for those who may not use them regularly, Dr. Hughes touts the benefit of a sleeping pill if traveling overseas.
“One or two sleeping pills is a great item to pack,” Dr. Hughes notes. “If you’re on an overnight flight, taking it on the plane should leave you well-rested when you arrive at your destination and can help beat jet lag.”
7 . Bandages.
It’s always good, especially when traveling with children, to pack a few bandages for a scraped knee or paper cut.
“If you’re someone who is planning to hike while you’re on your trip,” Dr. Hughes emphasizes, “packing a few Band-Aids can be the difference between a comfortable hike and painful blisters.”
8. Travelers insurance.
Even if you pack all of the right items, especially if you’re older and have ongoing medical problems, you never know what might happen on your trip. To protect yourself physically and financially, travelers insurance can be a lifesaver if you need to pay unexpected medical bills or cancel a trip due to illness.