While some people travel long haul or hit the high seas with little more than a spare band aid and a few tablets to cure a headache, there are many good reasons to pack a well thought out medical kit in your luggage. For one, when you travel to some countries, you are more at risk of developing a health issue due to poor food and water hygiene. And when you are on cruises, for example, buying over-the-counter medications can be expensive, and the choice of products is often limited, while in some countries the risk of buying fake medications, and prescription drugs, is high. So what should you pack and why? Firstly, if there are any over-the-counter medications you use regularly, such as antihistamines or sinus preparations, pack enough of these to get you through a trip. And when it comes to regular prescription medicines, do the same; they should also be kept in their original containers with clear labels, and carried in your hand luggage. Also organise a letter from your doctor stating the names of the medicines, the dose and confirming that they are for your personal use, plus a copy of your prescriptions, written using the generic name of the drug to avoid confusion with trade names in foreign countries. And as some countries do not allow visitors bring in certain medicines, check first with the embassy or consulate in Australia before you go.
For day-to-day use, an analgesic pain relief medicine such as paracetamol or aspirin should be in your kit, along with a basic antiseptic solution to clean any nasty scrapes or cuts, and an antiseptic cream to treat them. Also include a low dose hydrocortisone cream and antihistamine tablets to handle insect bites, irritations, topical allergies, and any other skin issues that may arise. Anti-diarrhoea tablets and an anti-emetic might save your embarrassment on the road should your digestive system come under fire, and a good cold and flu remedy will ease symptoms if you develop the sniffles. Fluid and electrolyte replacement powder or tablets are useful if you get sick, also motion sickness tablets if you are prone. Pack band aids of various sizes, along with some medical adhesive tape, and wound dressings and Steristrips, which can often take the place of stitches in an emergency. And for practical use, include a small pair of scissors can be useful (but remember not to pack them in your carryon bag) along with tweezers, a few small packets of tissues, hand sanitiser, and a pack of wet wipes which can be used to clean hands, and other parts of the body in case of accidents. And most importantly, get good travel insurance before you travel; hopefully you won’t need it!