Whether due to bad luck or unhealthy habits, I’ve gotten sick on the past few trips I’ve been on, which inspired me to find some medications to take with me in the future.
In preparing for a longer international trip, I visited a travel clinic and did some research on the CDC’s website. I was happy to find this checklist for a healthy trip and have included some over-the-counter medicine recommendations below.
It’s worth noting that you may also need some prescription medications (and/or vaccines) for things like malaria and altitude sickness, so if you’re traveling for an extended period of time, participating in a physically active trip, or headed to a remote country, make sure to visit a travel clinic.
Note that I didn’t include any first-aid items on this list because there’s an entirely different packing list for that: Download here.
Over-the-Counter Diarrhea Medicine: Imodium or Pepto-Bismol
Ah, the most common and arguably most uncomfortable sickness to get when you travel. Though it’s most often caused by contaminated food or water, diarrhea can happen anywhere—so it’s a good idea to bring an anti-diarrheal medication no matter the destination or type of trip.
Over–the-Counter Antacid: TUMS or Pepcid
The last thing anyone wants to do on vacation is walk around with a stomachache or heartburn, especially with all the new food and drink you might want to try. Carry antacids on your trip and you can overindulge all you want.
Over-the-Counter Antihistamine: Claritin or Zyrtec
You can never be sure when allergies are going to creep up on you while traveling, especially if you’re headed to another climate. Combat its symptoms, including a stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing, by packing these over-the-counter medicines.
Over-the-Counter Motion Sickness Medicine: Bonine or Dramamine
Nothing can ruin your travels quite like motion sickness on a plane, train, bus, or cruise ship. Instead of confining yourself to a trip of nausea and dizziness, bring medicine so you can travel like a champ. Benadryl (an antihistamine can also work for motion sickness, but watch out for drowsiness).
Over-the-Counter Cough Drops or Suppressant: Ricola or Halls
You’re at an increased risk for getting sick while traveling as your germ exposure skyrockets. Cough drops can bring temporary relief to a sore or ticklish throat and silence your coughs so you don’t annoy fellow travelers.
Over–the-Counter Decongestant: Sinex or Sudafed
Nobody likes traveling while congested. Whether it’s a cold or allergies, these over-the-counter medicines can relieve congestion and clear your head. Just make sure you pick a non-drowsy kind if you’re taking this during the day.
Over–the-Counter Pain and Fever Medicine: Tylenol or Advil
Instead of lying in bed all day, take pain and fever medicine so you can focus on being a tourist. These over-the-counter medicines can help with common travel ailments such as achy feet or jet lag-induced headaches.
Over-the-Counter Mild Laxative: MiraLAX or Dulcolax
All I’ll say is that you won’t regret packing these.
Over-the-Counter Mild Sedative or Sleep Aid: ZzzQuil or Tylenol PM
Maybe you’re staying in a noisy place or you’re so jet-lagged you can’t sleep. Either way, these sleep aids will make sure you’re refreshed and ready for a day of travel.
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Alyssa Lukpat also contributed to this article.