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jlsayre Jan 1st, 2005 11:24 AM

what do you pack in your oversea health kit
Going in March overseas to spain and France I never seem to have the right thing in my travel bag. Would love a good check list.Thanks

LoveItaly Jan 1st, 2005 11:28 AM

I am not on any medications so no problem there. I do pack Advil Gels, a few bandaides and 2 pair of reading glasses and 2 pair of prescription sunglasses and Kleenex. Guess that is it.

Intrepid1 Jan 1st, 2005 11:38 AM

I pack both DayQuil and Nyquil capsules or the equivalent; band-aides, Immodium, at least one analgesic such as Ibuprofen or plain aspirin, antacid tablets, etc. But these listed are my essentials. Having been caught in Berlin once, on a Sunday, with a terrific sinus blockage I will never be without some sort of handy cold symptom reliever/antihistamine again.

nibblette Jan 1st, 2005 11:44 AM

I take ibuprofen, decongestant (just in case I get a cold with clogged ears -ouch on a plane), hand gel/wipes, tissues, bandaids, blister pads, zinc lozenges (just in case a cold is starting), cough drops (handy for me or companion), lip balm, suncream and aftersun (burn easily). If tropical locale, also add insect repellant and anti-diarrheals. I may start to bring eye-shades since my last ON flight did not provide them.

Kayb95 Jan 1st, 2005 11:51 AM

Just the basics... Excedrin, Excedrin PM, Immodium, band-aids. Anything else I buy there if I need it.

Judy_in_Calgary Jan 1st, 2005 12:05 PM

Here is a good checklist. You can decide what applies to your situation and what doesn't. For example, for France and Spain you don't need anti-malarial meds.

nytraveler Jan 1st, 2005 01:11 PM

Acouple of things I don;t see listed - that I have found very handy. A pair of tweezers (great for spinters) and a tiny pair of nail scissors. Also, I always take a small flashlight and a steak knife (packed luggage naturally) - which has always been useful - for fruit if nothing else.

SUNSHINE1223 Jan 1st, 2005 01:18 PM

I always have packed in my travel bag:
immodium ad, tylenol sinus, claritan, extra pair of contacts, cotton swabs, moleskin, small scissors, tylenol sleep easy, tylenol, advil, excedrine migraine. You just never know what will I am prepared and I never have to worry about not having the right thing since it is always packed.

risab Jan 1st, 2005 01:25 PM

I packed Ibuprofin, a few band-aids, saline nose spray for the plane, and in the event of a cold some sudafed and sucrets. I also take vitamins and my daughters prescription bottle.
I do not recommend taking small scissors or knives for that matter- that is a security no no- they will get confiscated during the security check.

elaine Jan 1st, 2005 01:28 PM

I take with me many of the items mentioned above. I also always take a few Benadryl or other medication that is an anti-histamine. I once quite surprisingly had an allergic reaction to something I ate and spent a miserable night with itchy hives and a fever. I was better the next day, but it was an awful night, and therefore, the Benadryl is always with me.

StCirq Jan 1st, 2005 01:55 PM

Ever since I read about it (on Fodor's), I take Zicam. First sign of a cold, I spray - and haven't ever actually come down with the cold.

I also take two Duornomyl (French mild sleeping aid) in the vain hope that one day I may sleep on a plane; two antihistamine pills; two ibuprofen; a couple of bandaids; a tiny plastic bottle of Visine; a tiny plastic bottle of Purell; and three pairs of prescription glasses.

Intrepid1 Jan 1st, 2005 02:12 PM

If you are willing to confine it to checked luggage a Swiss Army knife or the similar Leatherman or Gerber tool can be a real help, especially the ones with the tweezers, corkscrew, scissors, etc. I've used mine for everything from repairing suitcases to breaking and entering (another conversation obviously!)...once you get one you never want to travel without one.

LoveItaly Jan 1st, 2005 02:17 PM

Intrepid1, breaking and entering?????
LOL. Do explain please!!!

Am sure we would all love to hear your story. But you obviously have lived to tell about it. ((*))

Judy_in_Calgary Jan 1st, 2005 02:27 PM

St Cirq mentioned <b>Zicam</b>. A discussion on the Fodors Canada forum indicated it was better to use the chewable version than the nasal spray because of this:

AnselmAdorne Jan 1st, 2005 02:39 PM

These aren't exactly health kit items, but I always carry ear plugs and a small flashlight for the bedside table.


jsmith Jan 1st, 2005 02:57 PM

An Ace bandage.

elaine Jan 1st, 2005 03:19 PM

Wow, Judy, thanks for that heads up.
from that website:

&lt;According to the lawsuits filed by various users of Zicam, it has been known for decades that the use of intranasal zinc causes anosmia and hyposmia (partial loss of smell). Zicam contains zinc gluconate, and the products are administered nasally. In the late 1930s, intranasal zinc solutions were used to prevent polio, but proved unsuccessful and in some instances caused a loss of smell. Despite this seemingly obvious problem, Zicam and other cold remedies containing soluble zinc are not tested by the FDA for safety or efficacy.&gt;

I used Zicam for the first time about a month ago when I got a head cold, and it seemed to make the cold short and more bearable, but of course that's compared to an unknown.
I will switch to the tablet form for travel or for the next time at home.

StCirq Jan 1st, 2005 05:51 PM

No wonder I didn't notice the dead squirrel in the trash can last week!

But seriously, thanks for the heads up. Zicam has a half-dozen types of products now from capsules to chewables to nasal swipes....I'll switch to something else!

marcelin Jan 1st, 2005 09:17 PM

I want to expand on Elaine's suggestion. Not only is Benadryl handy in the event of an allergic reaction, but like other first-generation antihisthamines, it doubles as a mild sleep aid (in adults). Look for generic diphenhydramine, which is identical but sells for a fraction of the price.

Also look for generic versions of the active ingredient(s) in NyQuil, Excedrin PM, Claritin, and Tylenol Sinus. These brand-name products are expensive gimmicks.

Finally, keep your prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, and vitamins in their original packaging, lest there be any questions from officials abroad -- and so that you will have correct dosage information and expiration dates.

Paul Marcelin-Sampson
Santa Cruz, California, USA

marcy_ Jan 1st, 2005 09:25 PM

Compeed gel bandaids are handy to have in case you get a blister.

Maybe everybody else already knows about these, but I just discovered them recently, and boy, do they work- way better than normal bandaids for blisters.

LoveItaly Jan 1st, 2005 09:41 PM

Marcelin advise is what my Dr. who has traveled all over the world always told us. Over the counter or prescription drugs, keep in original containers.

kswl Jan 2nd, 2005 04:46 AM

Marcy, I too have gound gel bandaids to be very effective, with blisters especially. Our two children who Irish dance use them.

We have a family member who suffers migraines but is not on regular medication, and also allergies, so we pack his prescription Zyrtec D in addition to:

Exedrin Migraine (OTC)
Pepto Bismol (chewable tablets)
gel bandaids
Neosporin (with pain relief, just found this it's great!)
Sucrets throat losenges
Vitamin C
Comtrex cold relief (when this is gone will probably switch to Thera Flu strips that go under your tongue)

and SEVERAL bottles of anti-bacterial, non soap HAND WASH like Germ-X, to help PREVENT new contact-borne illnesses. Everyone gets his or her own bottle and we use it throughout the day. Yes, we look like beetles waving our hands to dry, and yes, I know it sounds like your typical American/compulsive/germfreak, but studies show that it is BETTER than washing. Sure has cut down on our colds in the past year.

elaine Jan 2nd, 2005 05:38 AM

hand washing is always a good idea and has been shown to reduce the transmission of pathogens (that's why health care workers are supposed to do it) but the 'antibacterial' solutions aren't necessary unless you're trying to fight typhoid or cholera. Colds and flu are caused by viruses and antibiotics fight bacteria.
Still, good advice to wash hands frequently, as I do also on the airplane.

ira Jan 2nd, 2005 06:05 AM

Hi jl,

I have my dr give me an Rx for antibiotics (which I fill at home).

I always bring some Tums.


RufusTFirefly Jan 2nd, 2005 06:05 AM

It does appear that zinc lozenges and sprays will shorten a cold significantly if taken within 24 hours of first symptoms. It won't prevent a cold, so don't take it long term--taken long term zinc will actually reduce immunity and can lower your levels of &quot;good&quot; cholestorol.

sandi_travelnut Jan 2nd, 2005 06:30 AM

We just returned and a couple of things I was thankful for; cough supressant(?) strips that melt on your tongue (Tri-Aminic I think) a prescription of Ambien 'cause you never know what noises you'll encounter in the night in a foreign city, and a presciption of antibiotics. One trip my husband developed a terrible sinus infection and that saved it for him. I bring lots of other things but never seem to need them.

kodi Jan 2nd, 2005 06:44 AM

Do any of you take anything from the health food store? I'm thinking of taking Oregano oil and also have been advised to take probiotics for my intestines. Any ideas on 'natural' products to take?

elaine Jan 2nd, 2005 07:43 AM

If I'm feeling run down or suspect I may be coming down with something, I take echinacea tablets (health food store).
Green tea is also supposed to do good things for the immune system, but I just don't like the taste.

Wednesday Jan 2nd, 2005 09:53 AM

Ginger tea instead of Dramamine if I can help it...Q tips, and moleskin I have learned the hard way..even the most &quot;comfortable&quot; shoes may turn out to blister you...

FAMOUSUNCLEART Jan 2nd, 2005 10:45 AM

After an expierence in London, I suggest you have record of your meds, not the brand name but what the drug really is called so the doctor can know what you are taking.
I am a seasoned citizen and I always have the name of the place I am staying and the name of my children with their phone number, so, if needed, they can be notified. I do not let this stop my having a good time.

Judy_in_Calgary Jan 2nd, 2005 11:15 AM

Message for <b>Kodi</b>:

&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;Do any of you take anything from the health food store? I'm thinking of taking Oregano oil and also have been advised to take probiotics for my intestines. Any ideas on 'natural' products to take?&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;

Kodi, I see you responded to a post about Budapest, Vienna and Prague, so I take it you're planning a trip to that part of the world.

We were there in September 2004, and we did run into a couple of stomach problems.

In Hungary one member of our party experienced severe constipation.

We hadn't encountered stomach problems in travel to Africa and South America so we thought we were tough and didn't need to pack diarrhea and constipation remedies. Then we ended up needing them after all. It would have been pretty difficult for us to walk into a pharmacy in small-town, rural Hungary and make ourselves understood. We were lucky that we were travelling in the company of two Hungarian cousins, both of whom were doctors! One of them went into a pharmacy and bought an appropriate over-the-counter remedy for constipation.

Another member of our party experienced the opposite problem, mild diarrhea. However, this was cured by a day of sticking to clear liquids, and didn't need medication after all.

With the benefit of hindsight, we put the constipation down to the food that relatives were giving us (white bread and jam for breakfast instead of the fresh fruit, muesli and yogurt to which we were accustomed, and stuff like that).

After the bout of constipation we went out and bought some healthy groceries and made a concerted effort to eat them.

Later, in Vienna and Prague, when we no longer were with family members and were staying in hotels, we continued to watch our diets. Luckily our Vienna hotel included a variety of fresh fruit, muesli and yogurt in its breakfast offerings. Our Prague hotel provided yogurt and apple juice, but white bread and no fruit (other than juice). So again we made a point of including healthy dishes in our other meals.

So, in summary, I feel one's first line of defence is to eat as healthily as possible. But I think it's also a good idea to take along remedies for pain/fever, cold symptoms and stomach problems. Sure, one can buy the stuff if necessary but, as some of the stories in this thread have illustrated, it can be comforting to have remedies on hand if a need arises in the middle of the night.

kswl Jan 2nd, 2005 12:29 PM

Elaine, you may be interested in the article in this:

SAN DIEGO, CA -- October 23, 2003 -- Families that use alcohol-based hand gels rather than soap, water, or even antibacterial soap had just about half the likelihood of transmission of secondary infectious illnesses such as colds in the home, according to a study presented here October 10th during the 41st Annual Meeting of the Infectious Disease Society of America.

Then entire story may be found at

In many hospitals, the use of alcohol-based gels and liquids are being used to sanitize the hands instead of soap---which is, like most washing products, &quot;anti-bacterial&quot; by nature.

Another use this has is before eating in a train or bus, and when the available bathrooms are just too disgusting to use.

kodi Jan 2nd, 2005 04:17 PM

Judy, Thanks so much for the information. I'll go prepared! Yes, I'm planning a trip to central Europe in Sept, but first, my trip to New Zealand in 2 weeks.. It will be quite a year for me! I understand there will be lots of fruit in season in NZ and my travel partner is quite a healthy eater. She'll keep me on the straight and narrow ( except for the chocolate).
I've been told that oregano oil is much better than echinacia.
I'd rather go prepared than have to try and explain my problem in a drugstore in Prague!

LoveItaly Jan 2nd, 2005 08:03 PM

kswl, I just talked to the pharmacy a couple of weeks ago and they told me the same thing. Good to have even when not traveling. Often out shopping etc. and nice to be able to clean hands when stopping for a bite to eat.

StCirq Jan 2nd, 2005 08:15 PM

&lt;&lt;Sure has cut down on our colds in the past year.&gt;

This really does mystify me. If the average person thinks that anti-bacterial non-soap stuff protects against colds, we are in deep doo-doo. Doesn't everyone know that colds are caused by retroviruses, which are not at all related to bacteria?

How could use of antibacterial soap have cut down on a family's colds? NOT possible!

Boy, I'm afraid there's a lot of bad information about this out there....

Scarlett Jan 2nd, 2005 08:20 PM

Some germs that are killed by anti bacterial soap are Hepatitis, E Coli and Salmonella, which can be spread from one person to another by germs on their dirty hands.
Doctors still think if you wash your hand, colds and flu and respiratory illnesses can be prevented.
( from my brother in law, the internist )

marcy_ Jan 2nd, 2005 08:59 PM

The following is from the Mayo clinic:

&quot;Alcohol-based hand sanitizers which don't require use of water are an excellent alternative to hand washing, particularly when soap and water aren't available. They're actually more effective than hand washing in killing bacteria and <u>viruses</u> that cause disease.&quot;

(the underlining was added by me)

JudyC Jan 2nd, 2005 09:26 PM

Besides most of above, I always carry a tube of Anbesol in case of toothache, not always easy to find a dentist in the middle of night.

A tube of &quot;After bite&quot; whenever travelling in the summer.

I try to check the expired dates of everything in emergency kit every half an year, it is likely something left without being touched fro years.

kswl Jan 3rd, 2005 09:55 PM

StCirq, we began using hand sanitizer about a year ago, when my surgeon/husband's affiliated hospital suggested it as a better alternative to regular washing.

everittp Jan 3rd, 2005 11:02 PM

I carry a lot of 'preventative' stuff. Having been in the Girl Guides, I still follow the motto &quot;Be prepared&quot;. My kids laugh at me, but as a teacher and mom and traveller, I always seem to be handing out first aid remedies!
I carry a Tylenol #1 which has codeine in it, Besides being a pain med, Codeine stops that irritating, non-productive cough that is caused by post nasal drip. That is the dry irritating cough you hear on planes and in concert halls and other places where sinuses are irritated by dry air. In the US that would require a prescription.

My doctor, a European immigrant, gave me a most useful tip. He advises sniffing a pea sized dose of polysporin before flying. It needs to be placed far back in the nasal passage so that it will melt and coat the pharynx. Ever since I've done this, I've prevented the sore throat and nose bleeds that I used to get every time I flew. My daughter now uses that when she's training for marathons in very dry air (e.g. Mesa Verde, or Calgary). The saline spray actually dries out the membranes as the salty spray has a greater specific gravity than our bodies. That's why Epsom salts reduce inflammation from an ingrown toenail or blister, and feel so good in &quot;mineral spas&quot;.

I carry Imitrex injections for migraine, a 10 day supply of a wide spectrum antibiotic (as I'm allergic to penicillin), and if I'm going to a third world country, a first aid kit that includes latex gloves, medical masks, and disposable syringes. My travel clinic supplies these. Never have needed them, but I'd hate to have to worry about not having them.
I bring a supply of toasted almonds. That's the best fibre I've found to keep things moving when I'm not! And Imodium, and powdered Gatorade in case a GI infection needs treatment. But I am careful to eat yoghurt once a day as the active bacilli are useful for digestion. Bomamine for motion sickness.
Then there are the usual alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, blister pack, mole skin, Band-Aids, safety pins, elastic wrap, and Duct tape.
Two pairs of glasses, two pair sunglasses, tweezers, small scissors, a needle stuck in a small sliver of soap, sunscreen as protection and moisturiser, and a prescription sleep aid.
So far, in 45 years of travelling, I can say that I've had occasion to use each of these items on at least one trip either for myself or someone else.

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