Updated: Apr 29, 2021
It’s nice not to have to spend precious holiday time visiting pharmacies where items/medication names may be unfamiliar.
Below is a list of the top 10 items I recommend you carry on any trip.
1] hand sanitizer and wipes
Bathroom facilities may not be what you are used to
Carry a travel sized bottle of hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and ensure you use this if soap is not available, including before eating
Sanitize all high touch surfaces eg doorknobs, TV remotes and tabletops.
2] fever reducer eg ibuprofen (advil) or acetaminophen (tylenol)
Both of these are effective fever reducers
Ibuprofen is better at treating muscle aches however frequent use can be associated with heartburn
3] non-sedating antihistamine eg cetirizine (reactine) or loratadine (claritin)
Non-sedating antihistamine are great for treating intensely itchy mosquito bites
Alternatively, you can apply 0.5%-1% hydrocortisone cream to the affected area
4] bandaids- assorted sizes
Wash any cuts out with soap and water for at least two minutes
5] mild laxatives eg bisacodyl (dulcolax) or sachets of PEG3350 (restoralax)
Often we get a bit dehydrated on the plane journey, and sometimes don’t drink enough to account for the sweating we do in hotter climates
Constipation happens commonly as a result of travel
If you are prone to constipation, either of the above are gentle laxatives
Try to drinking 3L of water per day
Remember that alcohol and caffeinated drinks are dehydrating
6] oral rehydration salts
If you experience dehydration eg from diarrhea, oral rehydration solution is a reliable way to rehydrate
Mix the salts with drinkable water (ie bottled on water that has been boiled then cooled)
7] antidiarrheal medication eg loperamide (immodium)
Diarrhea is definitely one way to ruin a trip
If mild, take a dose after each loose stool
If it continues beyond 2-3 episodes, start your antibiotic prescription for traveller’s diarrhea
While viruses are the most common cause of diarrhea in Canada, this is not the case abroad. Bacterial causes are much more common which is why we prescribe antibiotics for traveller's.
8] Antacids eg tums, Pepcid
Heartburn is unpleasant but thankfully responds well to over the counter antacids
Spicy food, alcohol, caffeine, buttery/creamy sauces and citrus can all cause stomach upset so it is worth cutting out these triggers if you are experiencing this
Hopefully you will enjoy some great weather while abroad!
SPF 30 or higher is recommended in addition to sunglasses and a hat.
10] mosquito repellant eg OFF, care plus, Piactive
Check that your repellant contains either DEET or picaridin for any travellers 2 months and up
DEET has a strong smell
If you are sensitive to smells, you will probably find picaridin more tolerable
Other destination-specific items:
water purifying tablets (see info on water treatment)
moisturiser (useful for sunburns, itchy skin)
melatonin (useful for treating jetlag)
mosquito net (if basic housing conditions in tropical conditions particularly in malaria and Japanese encephalitis-endemic areas)
tweezers (to remove ticks, splinters)
Other items not to forget:
all prescription medications including ones prescribed for travel
spare pair of glasses or contact lenses
epipen (if you have any history of severe allergic reactions)
vaccination record (including International vaccination certificate if applicable)