Getting sick on the road is a concern of many, and there are as many pills on the market these days as there are concerns. So how do we determine what we might need and which meds we should pack on a trip?
In this post, I’ll share with you my go-to pills to pack for traveling and why I choose to bring each of them with me.
Please also note that this is a general list of pills to bring on the road. I write this without a specific destination in mind; this is what I would bring on any trip. Depending on the destination, I might add something if there are recommendations for that specific destination.
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To help me sleep. Melatonin is a natural hormone you can take to encourage sleep, which is brilliant when crossing time zones or on long flights. I used to use Benadryl because of its drowsy effects, but I recommend steering clear of anti-histamines if you don’t need them for that specific use.
To encourage gut health. Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that we need to keep our digestive systems healthy. They are particularly useful for travelers who go to places where the cuisine is significantly different that what they’re used to, or where the water is not safe to drink. Taking probiotics is one more protective layer against bad bacterias. They must be shelf-stable so they don’t require refrigeration, which is nearly impossible when traveling. The ones I use are Probiotic Pearls from Integrative Therapeutics, which were recommended to me by my doctor.
To encourage healthy digestion. This is also a personal preference, but I can be sensitive to dairy and other foods sometimes, so I like to take enzymes when I eat heavy meals or foods that are very foreign to me. Enzymes aid in breaking down foods for digestion. Like the probiotics, they are an extra effort to keep the digestive system healthy. The ones I use are Similase GFCF from Integrative Therapeutics.
To prevent getting sick. Of all the things I’ve tried to stay healthy and avoid colds and the flu on the road, nothing has worked like Nutribiotic Defenseplus tablets. No, Nutribiotic doesn’t pay me to say that. I stumbled upon these magic tablets at the health food store once, decided to try them, and haven’t looked back.
They contain “Grapefruit Seed Extract, Echinacea, Astragalus, Vitamin C, Mushroom Extracts, Goldenseal, and more.” As soon as I start to feel a tickle in my throat or think I may be getting sick, I start taking 1-2 of these per day, and I’d say 4 out of 5 times it will pass and I won’t get sick at all. For as hard as we push our bodies on the road, it doesn’t hurt to have a natural supplement to aid in immune support when we need it. I choose this over Emergen-C, which is what I used to use.
As a just-in-case pain-reliever and sickness preventer. I used to carry NSAIDs (Aleve) until I had a bad experience with them, so now I try to stick with acetaminophen. I use gel caps (for rapid release) and the 500mg extra-strength (it’s just a personal preference). I also begin taking Tylenol if I start to feel sick because it’s anti-inflammatory and will reduce irritation and flare-ups in the throat, where many sicknesses start. If I do ever end up getting sick, I take Tylenol and the Nutribiotic Defenseplus tablets throughout the sickness, and it usually cuts the sick time in half (in my experience).
Related Post: Getting Sick Abroad: Pharmacies Overseas
If you’re going to a third-world country where it is advised that you not drink the water, you may consider bringing Anti-Diarrheal pills as well. You can take them as soon as you have symptoms of Traveler’s Diarrhea, and they should start working almost immediately. This can save a lot of stress on the road. These are available generically over the counter at pharmacies, health food stores, or places like Target for less than $10 (definitely worth it even if you just bring a small supply).
To pack all your meds up, you could combine them into one bottle that they might fit into, or put them into a Ziploc bag (as long as you know which pill is which), because a Ziploc bag can be stuffed into places that bottles can’t. I use both methods depending on how big of a stash of pills I’m packing.
We have tips on preventing motion sickness while traveling, too.
Cheers to our health and here’s to hoping we can all stay healthy as we explore the world!
Disclaimer: This is not to be taken as medical advice! If you have any concerns about the above pills, consult your doctor before you take them. I want to help you have a safe and healthy trip, but I take no responsibility for whether or not you stay healthy or get sick, the ultimate decision of what to put in your body is up to you and you alone!