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Check list essential medicines in your suitcase


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Professional strain, as a good pharmacist, our blog could not miss a detailed section regarding the list of essential medications to have with you when you travel.

It sounds trivial but I assure you that since that time I got sick in Nevada and had to wander around looking for a medical clinic to get prescribed antibiotics, I have learned my lesson and now always leave with a small supply of basic medications, especially now that we travel with small children.

You don’t always have a pharmacy nearby or find the medication you are usually taking.

Besides the fact that, even if you do not plan to go to a remote country, you will avoid wasting time searching for a pharmacy and, if your child gets a fever at 1 a.m., you will already have everything you need to treat him.

Below you will find my personal list of medicines that absolutely cannot be missed when traveling. And you’ll also find the answer to one of the most frequently asked questions I always get from pharmacy customers.

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List of essential medicines in your suitcase

For your convenience, I will divide the essential medications to have in your suitcase into 5 main categories.

Habitual medications i.e., those that you take routinely because you suffer from a chronic condition (e.g., tablets for hypertension, thyroid, etc.). I count the tablets in the blister pack by counting a few extra so that I am covered for the whole trip.

Commonly used medications such as:

  • pain reliever/anti-inflammatory against headache/ sore throat/flu;
  • antipyretic (against fever);
  • antiemetic (against nausea)
  • ointment useful in case of peeling, ointment to soothe an insect bite, anti-inflammatory ointment in case of trauma;
  • milk enzymes;
  • anti-diarrheals;
  • lubricating/decongestant eye drops;
  • everything you need to do nasal washes if your child is still young (sterile saline in vials that can also be used as eye drops for an initial cleansing of the eye or spray to nebulize);
  • broad-spectrum antibiotic i.e., one that can work for a little bit of everything (e.g., bronchitis, toothache, insect bite infection..).

Medications that you anticipate you might need on that given vacation (e.g., if you are delicate of throat and go to New Orleans in August where there is a 15℃ swing between the air-conditioned rooms and the outdoors, you could most likely get a throat infection, so best to start with an anti-inflammatory).

Medications best suited for one type of travel rather than another (e.g., if you go to Egypt, you cannot fail to take an anti-diarrheal).

Important medications in case of allergies. In my personal luggage, you cannot miss a few cortisone or antihistamine tablets to take in case of an allergy to an insect bite or a food I have never tasted.

See your doctor because you will need a prescription to buy some medications.

Check list essential medicines in your suitcase

☛ My preferred mode of administration is orally by swallowing the tablet but clearly if the baby is small, you will need to bring a suppository or syrup.

☛ Other things to add to your suitcase are a thermometer (we use the front one for convenience) and a first aid kit with band-aids and disinfectant.

You might also be interested in Temperature: how to measure fever with an infrared thermometer.

Check list essential medicines in your suitcase. How to organize medications in your suitcase

Good organization of the bag is also important to reduce space and to go without fail when you need to take out medication.

So let’s see how best to organize the medications in your suitcase.

My advice is to divide the more “important” medications from those that you will be taking with you because it is better to have but that you will not necessarily use. The ideal then would be:

✈ carry-on luggage (or bag/backpack depending on what you are going to do) with a blister pack of your usual therapy medications, a blister pack of a pain reliever/anti-inflammatory, eye drops and a few tablets of your life-saving medication so you have everything ready to go;

✈ large suitcase with the rest of the medications.

That way, if a speck of dust got into your eyelid, for example, you would know exactly where to go to fish out the eye drops to quickly disinfame the eye.

In the end, if like us you have two children, you will get a nice full bag. To reduce the space a bit, you could slip in only the blister packs accompanied by the package insert, leaving the box at home.

Check list essential medicines in your suitcase. Will I have problems at the airport?

Here is the answer to the question I am most frequently asked by customers at the pharmacy.

I have never had to be redacted at the airport for the multitude of medications inside my suitcase.

My advice however, in order not to have any problems, is to get a blank prescription from your general practitioner listing the active ingredients of the medications you will have with you, accompanied by the doctor’s stamp and signature, so no one can dispute that those medications are not really needed for your health.

Last consideration, remember in case of, for example, syrup for babies, that the maximum amount you can carry in your carry-on baggage is only 100 ml.


This is my personal list of medications that cannot be missed when traveling. If you have any questions or need to purchase prescription medications, always consult your primary care physician and pharmacist.

Did I forget something? Let me know in the comments!

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