Travel Medicine Kit

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD

Even when traveling to a familiar location, packing a travel health kit can help you avoid inconvenience and discomfort should you need medications while on the road. What you choose to include in your travel medications kit depends to some extent upon your destination. If you're traveling abroad, be sure to inform yourself about the quality and extent of health care facilities in every country you're visiting. The U.S. State Department Web site (http://travel.state.gov/) contains a wealth of information for those traveling abroad, including information about finding medical services abroad.

Even if you'll be staying in the U.S., you may not feel like searching for a 24-hour pharmacy in a strange city at midnight should the need arise. To cover the basic minor illnesses and injuries, we recommend including the following items in your travel kit:

  • Fever thermometer

  • Standard over-the-counter pain reliever/fever reducer (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen). Depending upon your individual circumstances, you may want to discuss with your physician if taking a small amount of a more potent prescription pain reliever may be appropriate.

  • A few adhesive bandages in different sizes; gauze pads and first-aid tape

  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer gel

  • Antibiotic cream (such as Neosporin) for minor cuts and wounds

  • Steroid cream (such as hydrocortisone) to treat rashes

  • An antacid preparation (tablets may be more convenient than liquids)

  • Antidiarrheal medication [such as loperamide (Imodium, Kaopectate II, Imodium A-D, Maalox Anti-Diarrheal Caplets, Pepto Diarrhea Control)]

  • Tweezers and needles to remove splinters

  • Oral antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or one of the non-sedating antihistamines such as  loratidine (Claritin, Claritin RediTabs, Alavert, others)

  • Lip ointment

  • Sunscreen (with SPF 30 or higher)

  • Any prescription medications and supplies you may require, in their original packaging, enough for your entire trip plus a small surplus.

Depending on your travel plans, you may also want to consider adding some of the following items to your kit:

Unless you're traveling in an area without access to pharmacies, taking small amounts of everything should suffice. Many pharmacies sell travel-sized packages of common over-the-counter medications as well as small travel first aid kits. If you have any special medical needs, be sure to check with your doctor's office about other items you may need to include in your travel kit.


Last Editorial Review: 11/13/2008