Travel Medicine (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What should be in my travel first aid kit?

Reader Stories
  • Prescription medications that you take at home
  • Medications that your doctor recommended to prevent travel-related illness, including malaria medications, if indicated
  • Over-the-counter medicines to treat minor illnesses (heartburn, headache, head cold, mild diarrhea, motion sickness)
  • Sunscreen, lotion to use to treat sunburn
  • Insect repellents
  • Bandages, tape, thermometer, and tweezers
  • Adventure travelers who are far from medical help will need to consider additional items
  • Women who get vaginal yeast infections should consider carrying along a treatment course (pills or vaginal products)
  • Other items according to your itinerary

What are the medical concerns with jet lag?

Jet lag happens when travelers cross several time zones and disrupt their normal sleep-wake cycle.

To reduce the duration and the symptoms of jet lag, try to be outside when the sun is up. It may make for a very long (or short) first day, but it will help you adjust more quickly. Some travelers also try to change their sleep-wake habits before they leave.

Medicines are available that can promote sleep, but there are few studies on how well they work with jet lag. Zolpidem (Ambien) is a prescription sedative that promotes sleep. Another group of prescription drugs known as benzodiazepines also promotes sleep, but they may have more side effects, including temporary amnesia. Melatonin is a natural hormone available as an herbal preparation in the United States. Doses of approximately 5 mg have been shown to induce sleep. Melatonin is available over the counter.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/30/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Travel Medicine - Diet While Traveling Question: When you travel, how do you decide what is safe to eat or drink? What types of food or beverages do you avoid?
Travel Medicine - Your First Aid Kit Question: Describe what's in your travel first aid kit. What's the most important item in your kit?
Travel Medicine - When to See a Doctor Question: Do you travel internationally? Have you visited a doctor or received vaccinations beforehand? Please share your experience.