By Suzanne Ball
At some point, every traveler feels sick, gets a scrape, or rushes to the toilet. Pharmacies around the world stand ready to help, but it’s so much handier to head back to your room and pull out your favorite remedy. No searching at odd hours, no language barrier, no unfamiliar brand.
Before a getaway or grand tour, follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and pack medications that can get you through common travel ailments. These OTC (over-the-counter) products may already be in your medicine cabinet:
1. Ibuprofen. Effective for pain, fever, and inflammation. After a day of walking or exploring, your aching muscles will thank you.
2. 1% Hydrocortisone cream. Some countries (Austria, Netherlands) won’t sell cortisone cream without a prescription. A two-ounce tube is sufficient for rashes and insect bites.
3. Antihistamine. Warning! Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) is not allowed into some countries, including Mexico and Japan. Avoid hassles with another antihistamine such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine).
4. Anti-diarrhea. Nothing halts a vacation faster than diarrhea. Be prepared with Imodium or Lomotil (loperamide) pills or Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) tablets. They’re easy to pack and carry.
5. Laxative. To deal with constipation, bring a mild laxative such as Ducolax (bisacodyl). Taken in the evening, it should produce a bowel movement in six to 12 hours.
6. Antacid. Pepto-Bismol tablets can also calm your stomach. Or tuck Rolaids or Tums into your pocket.
7. Antibiotic ointment. A small tube will help the inevitable cuts and scrapes stay clean and prevent infection.
8. “Achilles Heel.” We all have health foibles. Pack the OTC drug for your special circumstance: motion sickness, dry eyes, insomnia, etc.
All should easily fit in a small zip-lock bag. Unlike prescription medications, OTC drugs can travel in checked baggage. If you do carry-on, creams and ointments go into the “3-1-1” bag. The 3-1-1 Rule refers to the Transportation Security Administration’s limitations on how much liquid travelers can have in their carry-on bags. Each liquid you want to carry on must be in a 3.4 ounce or smaller container (“3”), these containers must be in one clear quart-sized plastic bag (“1”), and each passenger is allowed only one bag (“1”).
Two more tips:
1. Ask your doctor to review your OTC medications to make sure none conflict with regular prescriptions.
2. Check the State Department’s “Learn About Your Destination” page to find any restrictions regarding OTC or prescription medications.
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