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essential travel items: travel medicine kit

February 9th, 2015 / by / in: travel products / 4 Responses

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I suppose this is a no-brainer, but mini containers of drugstore medicine are one of my travel essentials. I like to keep things in their original containers because drug laws vary so much from country to country, and I’d rather not be caught with some unlabelled pills in a pill case. There’s a bunch of info about bringing medicines back into Canada here, but this part is relevant: The drug must be in hospital or pharmacy-dispensed packaging, the original retail packaging, or have the original label attached to it clearly indicating what the health product is and what it contains.

So I really like things that come in small containers or are individually packaged (like the Lactaid, above). A lot of drugs that come in boxes with blister packs are labelled on the blister pack, so remove the box and they’re pretty easy to pack. Avoid bottles unless they’re tiny — they’re bulky and take up a lot of space in your bag. You can often find travel-sized medicine in the travel section at the drugstore (for whatever reason, I find WAY more travel-sized medicine in US drugstores), or pick some up when you’re at the airport. At most airports, you can find a large selection of various drugstore medicines in single or small dose packages that are perfect for packing.

Always check what’s allowed and not allowed into a country before you leave — seemingly innocuous stuff can be illegal in some countries. For example, Sudafed cold medication, or anything containing pseudoephedrine, is prohibited in Japan.

My travel medicine kit includes the following:

  • Ibuprofen (for pain)
  • Gravol (for nausea)
  • Benadryl (for allergies, or for sleeping if necessary — FUN FACT: Benadryl is diphenhydramine, the same ingredient used in most sleep drugs)
  • Immodium (I’ve never had to use Immodium but I keep it just in case — I’ve now bought it at least three times in my life and never used it but it keeps expiring)
  • Single-dose packet of Metamucil (emergency fibre)
  • Pepto-Bismol (for whatever)
  • Emergen-C vitamin C drink mix (for paranoia — I try to drink one every day when I’m travelling)
  • Throat lozenges (just a couple — you can buy these literally anywhere)
  • Cold-FX drink powder (also for paranoia)
  • Alka-Seltzer cold medicine (it doesn’t contain pseudoephedrine and I’m all about things that dissolve in water)
  • Tums (the Freshers version double as mints!)
  • Ear Planes (these will save you if you get congested and have to fly, and they’re hard to find outside of North America)
  • Melatonin (for sleeping — I like strips like this for travel)
  • Lactaid (for eating cheese, surprisingly difficult to find in other countries)
  • Packets of oral rehydration powder (like this — for food poisoning if it ever happens, otherwise hangovers)
  • Band-aids of various sizes
  • Japanese face masks
  • Salonpas patches (good for sore feet or any kind of muscle pain and easy to pack since they’re flat)
  • Moleskin patches for blisters
  • Alcohol wipes
  • These go in my liquids bag, but you might want to include hand sanitizer and eye drops

All of this fits into a small LeSportsac pouch so it’s easy to pack! The key is to just take a little bit of each medicine — you can find most of these almost anywhere, so you just need enough painkiller or cold medication (or whatever) to get you to a drugstore so you can buy some more.


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