The recent coronavirus outbreak has pushed personal health to the forefront on the minds of many travelers. Whether you are concerned or not about this particular virus, it’s a good wake-up call to make sure you have the tools you need to stay healthy while traveling.
Most avid travelers have a special medicine “goody” bag that they won’t leave home without. The bag is comprised of those essential vitamins, medicine, and other medicine cabinet items whose services they have needed time and again on their travels. The following is a list of the Eleven most important medicine cabinet items that should accompany you on all foreign travels, whether you’re staying in five star Accommodations, or spending $10 a night roughing it in a tent site.
1. Probiotics: Probiotics are dietary supplements, and live microorganisms containing potentially bacteria or yeasts, which promote intestinal health and functioning. Probiotics encourage intestinal microflora balance, and promote the healthy functioning of the intestinal system. So, they can be especially beneficial in the digestion of unfamiliar foods.
2. Antibiotics. Antibiotics can be essential in healing intestinal Infections, but you will need to consult your doctor for an antibiotic prescription. The use of prophylactic antibiotics is not recommended for simple cases of traveler’s diarrhea, since they are often ineffective in preventing traveler’s diarrhea and there are potential side effects such as allergic reactions and the possibility of developing resistance.
3. Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen doesn’t just numb the pain. It actually decreases inflammation, and thus can assist in healing as well as providing long term relief of sun burns, head or muscle aches, a sore throat, etc. It’s inexpensive, non-addictive, and easy to obtain.
4. Multivitamin: Each of the 13 essential vitamins (A, C, D, E, K, B12, and the 7 B-complex vitamins) provides the regulation of a crucial bodily functions, and if we are deficient in any of these, we can become ill. Since travel puts a degree of stress and strain on our bodies, and our diets can change dramatically while in foreign destinations, it is even more important that we do not rely solely on the foods we eat for the vitamins we need.
5. Antibacterial Gels: Using alcohol-based hand sanitizers (the CDC recommends at least 60% alcohol) certainly reduces the chance of coming down with a gastrointestinal illness as well as others. However, using them is not as effective as washing your hands for at least ten seconds with soap and water. These gels or wipes are ideal for times when soap and water simply aren’t available. Bonus: wipe down your tray table and arm rests with sanitary wipes.
6. Antacid: Antacids are used to help with heartburn, upset stomach, acid indigestion, and sour stomach, because they counteract the effects of extra stomach acid. That spicy enchilada and fifth margarita sounds like a good idea until your stomach can’t handle it, and then you’ll be glad you brought your Tums.
7. Antihistamine: Antihistamines are very useful for reducing allergic reactions and inflammation, and their uses stem beyond alleviating traditional allergies. Especially when traveling, you never know when you will encounter something new to which you are allergic, or when you will develop a reaction to something common, like the sun! Antihistamines can also alleviate the symptoms associated with insect bites, stings, and sunburns.
8. Diarrhea medicine: Diarrhea medicine can feel like a life saver, and there is debate on whether one should take it, since some believe your body needs to expel whatever is in the body. However, diarrhea can also lead to dehydration, and most would agree that stopping diarrhea is vital to stopping dehydration. Diarrhea medicine can also alleviate the feelings of dizziness and stomachaches associated with traveler’s diarrhea.
9. Tweezers: Tweezers are one of the many things we take for granted in our medicine cabinets at home, but as soon as you have a painful splinter or ingrown hair, you’ll wish you had them with you. They take up virtually no room nor weight in your bag, so there is no reason to leave on a trip without a pair.
10. Face Masks: Bring a face mask in case you are seated near someone coughing, sneezing, or displaying another action that makes them seem ill.
11. Sleeping Aid: If you have difficulty sleeping at home, this may be magnified while trying to sleep on planes and foreign hotel beds. Perhaps nothing is more frustrating, nor makes you feel more haggard, than enduring a long flight when you simply cannot sleep. Consult your doctor for one that is right for you. As an alternative to hard core sleep aids, three to five milligrams of Melatonin may be all you need to kick start your sleep. Melatonin is naturally found in the body and has other health benefits as well; for instance, it even helps your body acclimate faster to new time zones.
In addition to these travel items, I recommend that you wash your hands often, and avoid touching your face with your hands. Use a tissue to open bathroom doors. On planes, keep the air vents above your seat open, to blow air away from you. Lastly, one of the most important things is that you do not fly if you are feeling sick.