Your holiday medicine bag: what NOT to miss from your luggage

When you go on holiday, the last thing you want to worry about is that you haven’t packed all those necessary medicines and devices for both you and your child or partner.

So we’ve put together a little guide – you could call it a short list – of those things you might need in your holiday luggage when travelling either at home or abroad. Depending on the activities you’ll be doing on holiday, or how remote your holiday destination is, you may need more or less of the things on this list.

Before you pack, think about the geographical area you’re going to visit and what you may or may not find there. Talk to your doctor or your children’s paediatrician for advice before you go on holiday if you’re not sure what to pack to ensure you have an enjoyable and medication-free trip.

You can use this list to prepare for your next holiday. Make sure you take the necessary medicines with you, as you can’t be sure of the quality of some medicines you buy from other areas. Of course, not all of these things and medicines may be relevant or necessary for you and your family or for your holiday plans. But, broadly speaking, we could say that your holiday medicine kit should not be missing:

Doctor-prescribed medicines: this includes those that have been prescribed (so by prescription) by your doctor or paediatrician or that of a family member for that person; antibiotics to treat ‘traveller’s diarrhoea’, medicines to prevent malaria (if you are going to high-risk areas).

Medical devices or items: glasses and contact lenses; medical bracelets that alert you to conditions; blood glucose tests and accessories (if a loved one has diabetes); injectable insulin; inhalers; pre-filled adrenaline pens (if a loved one has a dangerous allergy). You can also take along a child-friendly compressor nebulizer for allergy or other respiratory medication therapies.

Over-the-counter medicines – in general, your holiday bag should not be without anti-diarrhoea medicines, antacid medicines, antihistamines, motion sickness medicines, cough drops, cough suppressant or expectorant medicines or syrups, decongestant medicines, pain relief and fever medicines (paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen), a mild laxative, a mild sedative or medicine to help you sleep better.

Other accessories and things to prevent illness or another discomfort

You can also pack a 70% alcohol and aloe vera cleansing gel; water purification tablets; insect repellent sprays; sunscreen creams (which provide protection against UVA and UVB radiation, SPF 15, SPF 30 or higher); sunglasses and a hat; condoms; birth control pills or other contraceptive methods; earplugs.

For your first-aid kit, it’s useful to pack the following (especially if you’re going on holiday in an area where you know you’ll find it hard to get medicines): hydrocortisone cream, antifungal or antibacterial creams or ointments, digital thermometer, oral rehydration salts, an antiseptic wound cleanser, aloe vera gel for sunburn, anti-itch cream or gel (in case you get stung or bitten by insects), sterile bandages and compresses, disposable surgical gloves, ear sticks, tweezers, eye drops or artificial tears to lubricate your eyes.

Other medicines you can take in your luggage when you go on holiday, in addition to prescription medicines, are medicines for altitude sickness, antibiotics for certain intestinal infections or serious respiratory infections, and tablets to prevent malaria.

What medicines do we take on children’s holidays?

If you’re going on holiday with the kids, there are a few important things to pack. If you’re going to a rather remote area, you’ll want to pack more things and medicines to meet the needs of the whole family. For children, don’t forget to pack a medicine bag as well:

  • Bandages or patches of all shapes and sizes
  • Sterile wipes for when you need to clean certain surfaces.
  • Ibuprofen in syrup form (if applicable) – Remember that little ones under the age of 12 are unlikely to swallow tablets or medicines, so you will need the active substance in liquid form and a syringe with which to give them the medicine prescribed by the doctor.
  • A cream or lotion to apply after insect stings/bites
  • Medicine for motion sickness
  • Anti-diarrhoea medication – Diarrhoea is an extremely common problem during holidays and travel, so your child may also be affected.
  • Antihistamines – because your little one is in a new environment, new allergies, and associated conditions can emerge, so it’s good to have antihistamines in your luggage.
  • Callus patches – these are ideal if you plan to walk a lot.

You can buy these items or products at your destination only when needed: a lotion to apply after sun exposure (after sun), a thermometer and bandages, lip balm, safety pins, small scissors, pads, wipes, hydrophilic cotton wool, disposable diapers, etc.

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