Traveling is synonymous with pushing past the boundaries of one's comfort zone. But I find the comfort zone that ends up getting pushed the most is that of my physical body.
For that reason, I force myself to be realistic and have an arsenal of pills, both medicines and supplements, packed with me at the ready. With a new kind of tap water, foods that have never before been digested and the toll of actual travel, the body can only take so much.
Rather than throw the medicine cabinet in my bag, I try to bring at least a couple doses of some key drugs. Even if they're available in my destination, I'll at least be able to medicate myself immediately should something come knocking at a highly inconvenient time, like the middle of the night. And because prevention is better than cure, I've taken to popping additional supplements leading up to a trip.
Though it’s up to you how your bring them along, whether that’s just throwing them all together in a plastic bag or just buying extremely limited doses at the store, for what it’s worth Amazon has a bunch of small and cheap basic pill boxes that should go fine in your suitcase.
For the requisite disclaimer: I’m not an expert at any of this so check in with a doctor before traveling, especially abroad. Mine jumped in with some prescription medications—malaria pills and some just-in-case stuff—before my trip to India. It's also important to double-check anything you're already taking mixes together safely.
Consider these medicines, vitamins and assorted pills when you're packing.
Both work wonders against fever and pain. Aspirin also thins blood, which is a benefit to those concerned with blood clots. There are more medical details about both, as well acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol).
I've found cold meds can vary country from country and I personally like to go with what I know. Thus, I always end up taking both AM and PM pills with me.
Landing in a smoggy place in spring time can take us all down. Then there also are potential food allergies to contend with and anything else that might pop up — it’s a whole new world of potential allergens!
I'll sometimes be days into a trip and realize I haven't any real substantial fruits or vegetables since arriving. My diet is rarely ever balanced on the road when compared with home but at least with a multivitamin I know I'm getting at least some percentage of what I need.
I have the same reasoning for taking Vitamin C as with the multivitamin. Studies have turned up inconsistent findings as to whether it actually helps prevent or cure colds but that Vitamin C can make colds less severe. I'll take that.
I used to just rely on eating yogurt to get my dose of good bacteria but research shows more is recommended. Probiotics—which are available as a supplement—pad the intestinal tract help to prevent nasty bacteria from wreaking havoc. They're a good idea always but especially before and during a trip to a country where the tap water is to be avoided.
What's needed to really get into street food in another country: an open mind and some trusty stomach soother like Pepto Bismol. And while we're on the subject, an antacid also can do much to calm stormy stomach seas. Because just when you think you can handle it all, that’s when life loves to bring you back down to Earth.
Because sometimes the opposite of the above is the problem and it is no fun at all.
Motion Sickness Medication
Last week, I found myself reaching for some Dramamine on a winding street on the public bus in the mountain town of Hakone, Japan. (How people who live there take that route daily I don't know but I admire them.) That was a trip I hadn't anticipated needing any, either, and I was beyond relieved to have it in my bag.