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Travel Tip #39

Bring Your Own Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications are handy to have at home and can be especially useful when traveling. When you are on the go, medications may be less available than you are used to, so it is better to bring a small stash with you than to have search for them while traveling. Please remember that just because a medication is available without a prescription, that does not mean it cannot have side effects or interact with other medications or diseases. Please consult your doctor or pharmacist to see if over-the-counter medications are right for you.

Before you leave home, put together a small supply of OTC medications. Most pills nowadays come in individual, impossible-to-open blister packs. That makes it easy for you because you can open the box and take a few tablets out. At a minimum, your traveling OTC section should include:

Ibuprofen (Advil): This is an excellent pain reliever and fever reducer. Use it for headaches, sunburn, sprains and the like.

Simethicone (GasX): When you have gas (not just flatulence, but actual bloating and discomfort), this works in minutes to provide relief.

Ranitidine (Zantac): Heartburn? Chalky antacids like Tums can work, but this is better. Take before a meal if you suspect those roasted jalapenos will give you trouble.

Loperamide (Imodium): If you only pack one thing, bring this. Diarrhea sucks when you are sitting at home watching Sherlock. Diarrhea really sucks when you are sitting in economy and the drinks cart has not moved for 20 minutes.

Bisacodyl (Dulcolax): Use for overnight relief of constipation. When you travel, you probably eat a poorer diet than you normally do, which can lead to what your parents call “irregularity.”

Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed): This nasal decongestant works wonders on the sinuses, but is getting harder to buy (thanks, Walter).

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl): An antihistamine that stops a runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. It also doubles as an excellent sleep aid, so when those hostel walls are doing about what you expect for $25 per night, it is nice to have this handy.

Know Before You Go

Most people have most of these medications sitting at home. Grab a few pills of each and throw them in your bag. Hopefully, you will never need them, but if you do, your future self will thank you.

Bottom Line

Again, please consult with a medical professional before taking any medications.

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