Preparing for an airplane trip can be stressful. There are so many rules to follow when packing and now you’ve waited until the last minute and are scrambling around gathering clothes, electronic gadgets, tickets and whatever else you want to bring with you. To help keep me organized, I have a Microsoft Word document called “Packing List” that I print before my trips longer than a weekend (Sharon still laughs at me for doing this). (Note from Sharon – Well, yeah! I can’t believe that for as often as we travel, you still need a flippin’ list?!?!?! LOLOL!) The first page is mostly clothes and things I’ll tend to forget like an umbrella and backpack. The second page is toiletries and medications. The last page is my final checklist for things I absolutely can’t forget. The final three items on that list are:
Forgetting any of these things would be horrible and would pretty much ruin my trip (I don’t carry my passport in the U.S. and will delete it from the list for those trips). I make sure my medications (most importantly my prescription medications) are always in my carry-on bag. That’s the bag I’ll keep with me at all times. Even if I have to gate check my roll-aboard bag, I’ll take out this smaller bag to carry on the plane with me. It has in it my medications, iPad and chargers and any important travel documents.
Now, I want everyone to repeat this next line with me:
I WILL NOT PUT IMPORTANT MEDICINES IN CHECKED BAGGAGE
Got it? Say it over and over until it sinks in. Never, ever, EVER forget this!
When you check a bag, it’s possible that you may never see that bag ever again. Or maybe you’ll be “lucky” and it will just get lost for a little while and you’ll be without it for 24-48 hours. Is that how you want to start your trip, having to run to a pharmacy to see if you can get your medications? Didn’t think so.
So now that you’re going to bring your medications with you onto the plane, what medications should you bring? I’ll try to lay out the important stuff but, of course, this list will be different if you are traveling with children, senior citizens or someone with special needs. The items I bring with me are things that if I need them, I’m not going to want to get out of my hotel room to find and buy them; I want to have them on hand so I can take them “right now.”
Here’s a list of the items I’ll bring for a typical, domestic trip. These first items I put in a small 7-day pill holder. It comes with us pretty much everywhere we go.
- Pepto Bismol – for general stomach discomfort
- Imodium AD – anti-diarrheal
- Tums (or Rolaids) – Antacid
- Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) – for pain/fever
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – for pain/fever
- Benadryl tablets – for allergic reactions and as a sleep aid
- Papaya Enzyme tablets – good for digestion (if you had too much at the buffet) (Note from Sharon: it probably won’t come up, but don’t use the word “papaya” in Cuba – it’s a slang term there and not a nice one!)
I’ll bring the pill holder along with these next items in a gallon size ziplock bag. This bag will be in my carry-on but then I’ll place it in my suitcase once I get to my destination.
- Prescription Medications (enough for your trip + 2 or more days in case of travel delay)
- Airborne or Emergen-C packets
- Pedialyte packs – helps fight dehydration due to vomiting, diarrhea or too much heat exposure
- Band-Aids of various sizes
- Dramamine or Bonine – for motion sickness
- Earplanes ear plugs – for flying with sinus problems (i.e. due to a cold, allergies, etc.)
The next items I have to include in my TSA compliant liquids bag with my other toiletries that I keep in my carry-on:
- Neosporin (Triple antibiotic first aid ointment)
- Hydrocortisone cream – insect bites, skin rashes
- Visine eye redness drops
- Carmex (or any other lip balm)
- Purell (Hand sanitizer)
If I’m checking a bag, I may bring these items if we are going somewhere where it’s sunny. The bottles are too big to bring otherwise:
- Aloe Vera Gel
If I’m traveling out of the country or to somewhere remote, like a cabin or on an island, I’ll bring more items (so many, in fact, that it has been called the “traveling pharmacy”). Remember, trying to find a medication when there is a language barrier can be difficult. Also, keep in mind that not all items are available everywhere around the world.
Before traveling to a foreign country you also need to check if they have any restrictions on medications such as pain relievers or anti-anxiety drugs. Here is what the U.S. State Department says:
Get a letter from your doctor for medications you are bringing. Some countries have strict laws, even against over-the-counter medications, so check with the embassy of your destination before traveling.
This additional bag of medication is what I’ll bring on trips outside of the U.S. Some of these medications are by prescription only and I get my doctor to prescribe them for me to use only if necessary:
- Mucinex DM (cough suppressant and expectorant)
- Sudafed (Decongestant; may not be allowed in some countries)
- Instant Cold Pack
- Chloraseptic or Cepacol lozenges (for sore throat)
- Ciprofloxacin for travelers diarrhea (Prescription Antibiotic – speak to your doctor if you are traveling to a country where this is a problem)
- Ear Wax removal drops and ear syringe
- Diflucan/Fluconazole – Prescription oral tablet for vaginal yeast infections (Note from Sharon: Ladies, TRUST ME, you are going to want to have this as a “just in case,” especially if you wind up on an antibiotic for some reason)
Between all of these medications, you should be able to treat the most simple problems you would encounter when traveling. When traveling outside the United States, I’d recommend getting travel insurance that includes medical coverage. I’ve always used Insuremytrip to find coverage for us. They let you pick between different providers to get the coverage you need for the trip you are taking.
I’d also recommend that you check to see if you need to get any vaccinations for where you’re traveling overseas. The Center for Disease Control’s website has information about traveling to each country and you can also speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
You could change this list as needed for your own personal needs, but for the most part, these items are a good place to start. Is there anything you won’t travel without bringing with you? Do you think I over-prepare, under-pack or is it about right? Let me know.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary