We’ve all been there: the late-night scramble to pack before your crack-of-dawn flight; the semi-finished To Do list with half the essentials forgotten; the sinking feeling when you unpack at the hotel and realise you’ve forgotten your favourite jumper, your contact lenses or your repeat prescriptions.
To make things a little easier, we’ve drawn up a list of some of the medicines and toiletries you should think about packing when you’re heading abroad:
Most of these medicines are available over the counter in pharmacies throughout Europe, but if you are heading off the beaten track, or don’t fancy dredging up your GCSE French to explain a medical problem to a pharmacist, you may wish to take some basic medicines with you:
- Painkillers (such as Paracetamol) for headaches, toothache and fevers
- Anti-inflammatory tablets for sprains or general aches and pains. Ibuprofen (mild) and Diclofenac (stronger) are available over the counter in the UK.
- Antihistamine cream or tablets for allergic reactions. You should spread the cream on a localised allergic reaction, such as a bad mosquito bite, while the tablets should be taken for a more generalised problem like a rash.
- Eye drops (such as Chloramphenicol) for eye infections
- Antiseptic cream, spray or wipes (such as Savlon) to disinfect cuts
- Anti-diarrhoea tablets (such as Loperamide) and rehydration sachets (such as Dioralyte) to help your body recover faster from a bout of diarrhoea
- Travel sickness pills (such as Hyoscine) or acupressure bands if you tend to feel queasy on busses, trains, cars or ferries
- Antifungal cream (such as Daktacort) to treat mild fungal infections between the toes or in the groin
- Antibiotics such as Flucloxacillin to treat infected cuts, or Ciprofloxacin to treat diarrhoea caused by a bacterial infection. Antibiotics are prescription-only medicines, so you should speak to your GP about getting some in advance if you are travelling abroad for longer than a few days.
If you are going further afield than Europe, for example to the tropics and subtropics, you will probably need to take other medicines such as malaria tablets, and get some travel vaccinations before you go. Some of these need to be taken or administered several weeks in advance, so make sure you get organised in good time.
If you take any repeat prescription medicines, you should make sure you take enough with you to cover the whole of your trip. These could include:
Don’t forget the essentials, some of which could be a hassle to get hold of abroad, such as:
- sun cream
- after-sun lotion
- plasters and blister plasters
- tampons or sanitary towels
- toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss
- contact lenses and contact lens solution
- cleansing wipes
- Don’t forget that if you’re flying and have opted for hand luggage only, your liquid containers must be 100ml or less.
- Pack your liquid toiletries in a wash bag, rather than loose in your suitcase. No-one likes arriving at their dream destination to find their clothes saturated in shampoo.
- The sun’s UV rays can be stronger abroad, so make sure you wear sun cream even if you wouldn’t normally do so at that temperature at home. And it’s not just beach bums that need to watch out – you’ll also need to wear sun cream if you’re skiing or snowboarding as the sun’s rays reflect off the snow.