What medicines should you pack when you travel?
I’m a recovering overpacker. As a traveler with anxiety, I like to be prepared for every possible situation, especially with medicine. I was always the girl in my college dorms who would have every available medicine in a box for hallmates, and that hasn’t changed some seven years later. I always pack the same medicines with me for every trip, not only to prepare for the worst (lol) but to also save me and my travel mates the time, money, and worry of tracking down the basics should something come up.
Medicine basics to pack on a trip:
With every trip I take, I pack medicines I have the highest priority of using (which, unfortunately, is a lot). While you might not think you need medicine on vacation, I think it’s always smart to pack the essentials, that way you don’t have to stress about finding a drug store during your travels for something as simple as a headache, as annoying as a blister, or as serious as nausea.
If you only pack six medicines, make it the below six. You can always buy something for more serious ailments (knock on wood). These basic medicines to pack will cover basic ailments, from headaches to stomachaches to blisters. If you get a pill holder like this, it will also pack up very small and take up very little room.
- Stomach medicine of choice
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For stomach troubles/motion sickness
I have a sensitive stomach. My friends make fun of me for the fact that I always have Tums and ginger candy on me. It might be silly, but I know my body. Even if you never have issues with your stomach or motion sickness, I would still bring some medicine with you. You never know when you might need it!
For stomach troubles, these are the medicines I always pack when going on vacation.
Dramamine, 3 kinds
Seriously, I should be sponsored by Dramamine for how much I used them (ahem). I wrote about this a little in my article on flight anxiety, but I get motion sick (and an anxious stomach) very easily.
All-Natural Ginger Dramamine
I use the ginger Dramamine for short flights (a new feat I’m very proud of), car rides when I’m sitting in the backseat, and if I have an upset stomach that Tums won’t help with. It is sometimes hard to find it in American pharmacies, so it’s best to order online before your travels if you’re interested in using it.
I was especially glad I had it handy when we went to the Scottish Highlands – winding roads and mountains are not really anybody’s friend!
I use the less-drowsy formula for daytime flights that are longer than an hour or long train rides in the states (which are a lot choppier than those in Europe). They make me a bit drowsy, but if I’m on a plane or train I can doze off and if I need to be up, I can usually power through.
I use the original formula for long haul overnight flights when I know I need to sleep. They help with motion sickness AND knock me out, which is a bonus. Do not use this during the day when you need to be up – you will fall asleep hard. The less-drowsy version does the trick and will keep you awake for a day of activities!
Ginger candy is life. I snack on them when I want real candy but they are a real lifesaver when I feel sick, whether nauseous from motion or from anxiety.
The Ginger People make my ginger candy of choice. I originally liked the double strength hard ones but the chewy ones take longer to finish, keeping me occupied for longer.
Similarly, Tums are also life. I keep them in a mint tin so they take up less space in my medicine bag (and look less obvious when I pull them out at the end of an indulgent meal).
Peppermint oil beads
Another stomach cure. I partly just like having these Doterra Peppermint Beadlets as mints but they are nice if you’re stomach is upset and you want quick relief.
I usually only bring one or two doses of Immodium when I travel, just in case. I’ve only needed it once before and won’t need it in the future, knock on wood!
Not just for the sea, Sea Bands are also great if you get carsick or motion sick. I put them on for every flight and train ride I take, as well as car rides that I know will be bumpy. They are a great natural motion sickness relief because they use your pressure points to ease nausea. I highly recommend trying them out!
For head troubles
Unfortunately, I get headaches and migraines when my routine and diet are switched up. That means I usually get them when I travel. I always have headache and migraine remedies on me when I travel, just in case.
I get a lot of headaches – when my schedule is messed up, when I’m dehydrated, when I don’t get enough sleep, when I eat too much sugar, etc. Needless to say, Tylenol is necessary.
I try to only save Excedrin for really bad migraines that caffeine and Tylenol don’t help. While rarely used, it can really turn a day that would be spent in bed in a dark room into a day spent out exploring.
For mental health
I finally have a good mental health medication routine. I’m in a good enough place where I don’t have to take antidepressants anymore (yay!) but I still take supplements to help keep my naturally high anxiety levels low. They always come with me on my trips.
I take magnesium for my anxiety every night, but I recommend it if you get migraines, have trouble falling asleep, or even have sore muscles. I take supplements like these but also recommend Calm Water, which I used for years before.
CBD oil (if legal in destination)
CBD oil is the newest tool in my anxiety arsenal. It really does help my anxiety (and even stopped a panic attack when I could feel it coming on). Always do research before traveling to see if CBD oil is legal where you are going. I have been using Lord Jones CBD oil.
Much like my anxiety regimen, my immunity regimen is well-tested. It minimizes illnesses and stomach problems!
I swear taking Vitamin D regularly is what keeps me from getting sick, both at home and while traveling. When you travel on planes and in new places you immune system is basically attacked on all sides, and Vitamin D helps prevent illnesses.
I’ve been taking a probiotic regularly for the past few years, switching up the strain every few months. It aids in digestion and gut health, both of which are important when eating all the food on a vacation.
Other random (but important) things
These!! It’s like having Gatorade tablets (minus the unnecessary sugar) ready for your water! I use electrolytes when I get dehydrated (usually from not drinking enough water on flights or when walking around). They are incredibly handy and one of my best travel discoveries.
Is there anything more annoying than getting a blister on day one of a trip? Or cutting your hand in the zipper of your suitcase? Bandaids take up almost zero space and can be a real lifesaver.
I hope this list of medicines to pack for travel helps you when planning what you’re going to pack for vacation! As I said, I bring all of these when I travel, most of which fit into this travel pill container (I like it because it’s organized by type instead of by day since I don’t take all of these every day). You can label the individual holders using a Sharpie if you’re worried you’ll mix them up.
Oh, yes, my bath bag/ER kit is the heaviest thing in my luggage! I have a natural mosquito protocol that I follow to keep them away from me, but because I didn’t think I’d be in a warm enough climate this time of year, I tossed those products out (set them inside someone’s bathroom cabinet) at one of my last Airbnbs. Now that I’m in the French Riviera, I’m completely regretting it. So I’ll go out and about tomorrow to search for replacements, and spend that money all over again, because I react so allergically. Lordy me!