Whether your summer vacation plans involve staying close to home or crossing the globe, you'll want to put as much thought into protecting your health while traveling as you do choosing your destination. A new report, Healthy Travel: A 10-Minute Consult from Harvard Medical School, includes this list of important health-related items to take along:
1. Your prescription medications. Take at least a week’s supply in your carry-on (in case your luggage is lost). Anything beyond a week’s supply can be packed in your checked luggage.
2. Other prescription medications. Depending on your destination and personal medical history, consider asking your doctor about taking along antimalarial medications and an antibiotic for self-treatment of moderate to severe diarrhea.
3. Gastrointestinal medications, such as antidiarrheal medication (for example, bismuth subsalicylate or loperamide), a mild laxative, and an antacid.
4. Allergy medications, such as antihistamine and 1% hydrocortisone cream for mild allergic reactions. If you or a traveling companion has a history of severe allergic reaction, bring an epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen). (This is a prescription item, so if you don't already have one, talk with your doctor.)
5. Cold-symptom medications, including a decongestant and throat lozenges.
6. Motion sickness medication.
7. Pain relievers like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen.
8. Antifungal and antibacterial ointments.
9. Lubricating eye drops.
10. First-aid items like adhesive bandages, gauze, an elastic bandage, antiseptic, tweezers, scissors, cotton-tipped applicators, and a first-aid book.
Parents traveling with children should also carry
• water and snacks
• alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• oral rehydration salt packets (for dehydration caused by diarrhea)
• diaper rash ointment
• baby formula
• any necessary medications.
The report also covers these topics:
• traveling with special needs
• fear of flying and other common travel concerns
• traveling internationally with children
• maintaining a healthy lifestyle while on vacation
• prescription and over-the-counter drugs in foreign countries.
Healthy Travel: A 10-Minute Consult from Harvard Medical School is available for $9.95 from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School. Order it online at http://www.health.harvard.edu/TR or by calling 877–649–9457 (toll-free).