Accidents and emergencies happen while traveling as often as they do while at home. Although, while traveling, we don’t have the convenience of a fully stocked medicine cabinet to cure our aches and pains. Most places you travel to will have the resources to get medical supplies and medications – hospitals, pharmacies, etc. But, consider the travel time between destinations. An eight-hour bus ride is not the time to feel ill with no access to medicine. That’s the time that having access to a stocked medical kit comes in handy.
I like to pack what I call a healthy travel kit. A healthy travel kit is more than just a first aid kit. Staying healthy and comfortable while traveling is very important. How else will you be able to happily see all the sites, participate in all the fun activities, and enjoy all the delicious food?
I do tend to over prepare in this department, but I don’t think it’s the place to cut corners. Thankfully, I’ve never run into a situation that I couldn’t fix with the help of something I packed in my healthy travel kit. So, I feel justified in always carrying this kit with me.
Healthy Travel Kit Packing List
My healthy travel kit pretty much stays the same whether I’m traveling to New Orleans or Belize. The only thing that may change is the amounts of some items, depending on the length of the trip.
I also carry a couple extra items that aren’t necessary for everyone due to a severe allergy and some things that are more for comfort and mental health first aid. Having something that reminds me of home is key to staying positive and anxiety-free.
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Benedryl & Zyrtec
I seem to be allergic to everything, indoors and outdoors, all year long. So I try to curb the symptoms by taking Zyrtec (or generic Cetirizine) daily. It’s important not to miss a day – especially while traveling and experiencing new allergens and pollens.
I carry Benedryl at all times because it goes hand-in-hand with my EpiPen (see more on that below). It’s also good to have in case of other unknown allergic reactions, like to a new food, bug bites, or a crazy pollen outbreak.
These are MUST-PACK items! Indigestion, heartburn, nausea, gas, diarrhea, constipation – these are fun-time wet blankets. They are also sort of inevitable while traveling, eating all the foods and sightseeing, so be prepared! For more serious bouts of traveler’s diarrhea (most likely to happen in countries with different standards for drinking water) get a prescription for antibiotics before your trip.
Cars get me almost every time, unless I’m driving, and planes only once in awhile. Minty or ginger candies and a healthy supply of little snacks helps me out big time. I like Ginger People’s chewy candies (they make hard candies, as well) and Pep-O-Mint Lifesavers. Snacks that I like to travel with are usually individually packaged and easy to prepare if necessary. Some favorites include protein bars, granola bars, instant oatmeal packets (never get in a car without eating breakfast!), mixed nuts, dried fruit, drink mix packets, tea bags, and hot chocolate packets. Pretzels, saltines, or some kind of cracker to nibble on during long drives, especially if mountains are involved, is a MUST.
Aches, Pain & Fever
I don’t joke around when it comes to my body temperature, so I bring a small thermometer. A spike in temperature could indicate some sort of infection or a negative reaction, so better safe than sorry. Ibuprofen will bring high temps down as well as ease headaches and other minor pains.
When the Illness Takes Over
Day and night sinus congestion/cough medicine, cough drops
Beautiful vistas and iconic landmarks can seem lackluster while you’re viewing them through a thick fog of sinus congestion, clogged ears, and a sore throat. Colds are inevitable. Taking the proper medicine to battle the symptoms long enough to enjoy yourself is key. I like Halls Defense Vitamin C Supplement Drops or Honey Lemon Drops to ease sore throats and coughs.
Lack of Sleep
Sometimes I need some help falling asleep, especially if I’m in a new place or sharing my sleeping space. The calming smell of lavender works well for me. You can get lavender-scented eye masks, rice bags or aromatherapy candles, but I like lavender vanilla scented lotion from Bath & Body Works. Just a little bit on my hands and arms before bed helps me fall asleep almost right away.
Melatonin is a supplement that I occasionally take to help me fall asleep at night. It’s a hormone naturally produced by your body to help control sleep and wake cycles, but there are side effects associated with taking the supplement. Talk to your doctor before deciding to use it.
I carry a typical first aid kit with all the essentials for minor injuries. There’s a variety of Bandaids, tweezers to extract pesky ticks and splinters, and all the ointments and creams you can think of. Although, tiger balm is the star of the show. This ointment will clear up a stuffy nose if dabbed under the nose, relieve sore muscles, and soothe itching bug bites. The scent also sometimes helps me get over nausea.
Another multi-use item that is essential to a great healthy travel kit is Aquaphor. Use it on dry skin, condition your cuticles, help small cuts heal faster, and use it as a lip balm.
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EpiPen, antibiotics, and other prescriptions as needed.
An EpiPen, or epinephrine auto-injector, is used for severe allergies that cause anaphylaxis. EpiPens are not needed by everyone, but I happen to be allergic to bee stings, so I carry one at all times. I know how to inject the medication myself, but really would prefer not to ever do that, so I’m excellent at running away from bees. If I do get stung and need to use the EpiPen, I will immediately take Benadryl and find a ride to the nearest emergency room.
Fingers crossed this never, ever happens! =/
Book or Kindle, pen & notebook, camera.
Reading, journaling, and documenting my travels are relaxing pastimes for me. If hit with a bit of anxiety, I can find solace in quietly reading or writing.
My favorite cozy hoodie.
Hoodies are essential to my life and well-being – as any other Cape Codder knows all too well. It comforts me if I’m homesick, warms me when I’m chilly and acts like an invisibility cloak when I need alone time. Sometimes they are a bitch to pack and haul around, but so, so worth it when the need arises.
Ever get sick right at the beginning of your vacation after you took every precaution at home to stay healthy? You probably picked it up on the plane, most likely from germs on the spaces around your seat. Yep, I’m that person that wipes down the armrests, tv console, and any other surface I may touch with antibacterial wipes during my flight.
Dry air on flights, dozing off on bus rides, and dry foreign air really beat up my contact lenses and my eyes. Rewetting drops save the day. Don’t always assume that restrooms will have A little roll of extra toilet paper will be the hero of the day if that need arises.
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