Even if one of the ACA exemptions applies to you, you should still take your health into account before embarking on any journey. I used to think my Mum was being a bit over cautious when she packed the big bulky toiletries for a holiday. But she was right- over the course of my travels I have needed, at some point or another, everything on this list below. It’s not being a hypochondriac, it’s just common sense. Unfortunately when you’re travelling you’re coming into contact with new people, tropical climates, insects and situations where you’ve got more chance of getting cuts and bruises. So it’s important to carry a substantial supply of medicines just in case you’re sick as you don’t know how easy it will be to get hold of these things where your’re going. Make sure you carry anything really important, like prescription medicines and contraceptives, in your hand luggage just in case your main suitcase gets lost.
Here are the essential medicines to take on your travels:
1. Antibiotics– It’s not always easy to get hold of antibiotics when you’re abroad because in many places you need a prescription for them. My number one item is an antibiotic that can be used to treat a wide variety of infections as it is quite likely that on long trips abroad you’ll get an infection of some sort.
2. Anti-Malaria tablets- Malaria is a dangerous and sometimes deadly tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. Now you don’t want to do a Cheryl Cole and find out that you’ve contracted malaria and end up fighting for your life when you get home, so take some anti-malaria tablets with you. You only need to take them if you’re going to a country where Malaria is present, so check before you visit a country whether there is a malaria risk. Usually you have to start taking anti-malaria tablets before you go to the country in question and take them every day whilst you are there. If you’re on a round the world trip, definitely take some anti-malaria tablets with you, although sometimes they can be cheaper to buy in other countries, especially countries in Asia where medicines are very cheap.
3. Betadine- Betadine is a brand of topical antiseptic iodine and can be used on cuts and scrapes to help prevent infection by killing bacteria on the skin. In my case I needed it when I came off a scooter in Bali.
5. Gauze & Tape- Essential for wound care, you should dress the wound with antibacterial dressings followed by gauze and tape. Make sure you pack some scissors to cut it and change the dressings regularly.
6. Paracetamol & Ibuprofen- Pain killers are an obvious one for the list…I usually take Paracetamol if I’ve got something with a bit of a fever or temperature and Ibuprofen for aches and pains.
7. Anti-motion sickness tablets- I’ve noticed there’s a lot of anti-stuff on this list, but prevention is better than cure. Another item I’ve used on several occasions in my medical kit is anti-motion sickness tablets. There’s nothing worse than getting travel sick, and I’ve use them on several boat trips- the first time when I went sailing in the Whitsundays, the second time on a boat in Portugal and the third on a particularly rough day at sea when I went Shark cage diving in Port Lincoln. They honestly work, although they do make me a bit drowsy…I’ve been known to sleep for hours on them, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
8. Antihistamines- Antihistamines are usually used for hayfever, allergies and allergic reactions, and work by blocking the effects of a protein called histamine.
9. Anti-Diarrhoea tablets- Not such a nice topic to talk about but if you are unfortunate enough to eat something dodgy and end up with diarrhoea, you’ll have these tablets with you to help combat it.
10. Dioralyte– This has saved my life on many occasions. Dioralyte sachets contain rehydration salts and are great if you’re dehydrated in a hot climate, you’re suffering from diarrhoea or perhaps because you’re a little bit hungover after a night of drinking! If I wake up and feel rough with a hangover, I add one of these sachets to a bottle of water and down it, so I instantly feel better. The blackcurrant ones taste the best.
flickr photo by Pranjal Mahna