Have you been traveling in unfamiliar territory, perhaps on foreign soil, when that dreaded head cold hits you? Were you prepared to tackle that cold? Or did you spend your evening in search of a local pharmacy, hoping they stock your favorite cold medicine?
Don’t lose precious vacation time wandering the aisles of an unfamiliar pharmacy! Pack a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) travel medicine kit with the medications you need to handle minor aches and pains, or that unexpected stuffy nose. You’ll be glad you did!
Don’t know where to start? Take a walk through my DIY travel medicine kit, and the fifteen essential items I always pack. Use this list as a guideline for your own DIY travel medicine kit tailored to your specific medical needs and your brand preferences.
15 Essential OTC Items In My Travel Medicine Kit
My travel medicine kit is an essential component of my “must have” travel gear. No matter my luggage limitation, I always make space for a small travel medicine kit stocked with these fifteen Over-The-Counter (OTC) items. They’re just what I need to keep my family healthy and to treat minor ailments that might afflict us along our travels.
I don’t pack the whole medicine cabinet. I only bring those OTC medication I use for the more likely ailments to occur while traveling.
- Pain medications
- Allergy medications
- Cold and sinus medications
- Antacids and acid reflux medication
- Motion sickness medication
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Lactose intolerance medication
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Anti-fungal and antibacterial ointment
I also pack these “just in case” items and the family vitamins. Gotta keep us healthy on the road!
- A thermometer
- Lip balm
- Rehydrating salts
- Sun burn ointment
I stick with our family’s favorite OTC brands. Travel time is not the time to introduce a new, unproven brand that might not work as well as the tried-and-true brand.
Don’t Forget The Prescription Medications!
My medicine kit also includes our prescription medications, including both daily use medications and the “only-when-needed” medications.
- Routinely used prescriptions medications
- Situational prescription medications – Inhalers, EpiPens, ect.
I don’t leave home without those “only-when-needed” meds! One never knows when that inhaler that hasn’t been used in six months, might suddenly be needed.
Three Questions To Ask Yourself
A DIY travel medicine kit should be tailored to your own specific needs. Here’s three questions to ask yourself when finalizing what to include in yours.
1. Traveling with children? I make sure my medicine kit includes children’s versions of pain, allergy and cold medications.
2. Specialized medical needs? I check with our family doctor to ensure prescriptions are up-to-date and refillable, as well as any special considerations while traveling.
3. Traveling to a region with special medical precautions? I check with our family doctor the month before departure for specific OTC and prescription medications I might want to add to my essential medicines.
Tips to Packing A DIY Travel Medicine Kit
All right! Preferred travel medication inventory completed. Now it’s time to condense and consolidate everything into a travel medicine bag.
OTC Medications: Here’s how I prepare OTC medications for more efficient packing.
- I prefer medication packaged in either individual blister packs or travel size bottles. Easy to pack, easy to dose, easy to place in a day bag for on-the-go needs.
- I avoid liquid medications when possible. Easier to get through TSA.
- I don’t bring the whole box. I only take what’s needed for my travel window.
- I place OTC medication removed from it’s original box into a zip-lock bag.
- I include the box’s medication dosing instructions in the zip-lock bag.
- I also include an additional label on the outer zip-lock bag, just in case the instructions are misplaced along the way.
Prescription Medications: Here’s how I prepare our prescription medications.
- I take enough prescription medication for the travel window, with an additional two to five days’ supply for those “just in case” situations.
- I use last month’s prescription pill bottle if I need to split pills into “travel pills” and “leave at home” medication.
- I pack a copy of the prescription medication refill information, including doctor contact information, in case of an emergency refill need.
The Travel Medicine Bag: And here’s my own DIY bag, and how I organize it.
- I use a bag with multiple zippered pockets so I can separate my medicines.
- I organize OTC medicines by ailment – stomach, motion sickness, colds and allergies.
- I label individual pockets with the medicines inside. It helps me quickly find exactly what I need, without having to dump everything out.
Travel Gear Tip: Labels not only provide an on-the-go inventory of your medicine kit, they are also great as a restocking list for your next trip.
Do You Have A Travel Medicine Kit?
And there you have it. A walk through my DIY travel medicine kit. It’s not too big, and it’s not too complex, but it sure is handy! My kit has saved me from that dreaded hunt for a pharmacy at 7:00pm. It has eased the sniffles from too much pollen in the air. And it has soothed stomach pains because of too much ice cream on a lactose intolerant stomach.
Do you travel with a DIY medicine kit, customized to your particular needs and preferences? What’s the “must have essential” in your kit? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Check out my other essential DIY travel gear – Twenty Essential Items Every DIY Travel First Aid Kit Must Have.
NOTE: This information is meant only as a guideline to help in making your own travel medicine kit. You should always follow your doctor’s recommendations for travel medications.