There’s nothing as annoying as having a vacation ruined by an unexpected stomach bug or in my case an inevitable motion sickness. Even worse is running out of chronic medication and being unable to have a prescription filled at a holiday destination. I feel it’s necessary to be always prepared for any illness that can befall me.



I think pain killers are an absolute necessity for any trip. Especially when traveling with children, some paracetamol or mefenamic acid will help subdue a mild fever or pain that small children are prone to when they hurt themselves. A good painkiller will also help with any headaches from a  hangover or just general aches related to traveling.

It’s is important, however to ensure beforehand that the painkillers you have are allowed in the countries you’re traveling to as some countries have strict laws regarding the medications you may have on your person when you enter the country.



Whether I travel by road, sea or air I often suffer from such annoying motion sickness that the first day of my vacation is a recovery day. So to minimize losing out on my holidaying I always make sure I take my cinnarizine or cyclizine (both available at the pharmacy without a prescription) 30 minutes before I start my journey. Prevention is better than cure, right? Antiemetics are also great in aiding with the symptomatic relief of nausea associated with migraines or vomiting that may result from ingesting bad food.


Antidiarrhoeals and rehydration fluids

Have you heard of traveler’s diarrhoea? This is a disorder of the intestinal tract that’s common in travelers due to change in food or water. Diarrhoea is generally unpleasant and more so when one is on the road or away from the comfort of home. To avoid getting traveler’s diarrhoea, make sure you have a trustworthy water source and avoid food prepared in suspicious or unsanitary places. Although traveler’s diarrhoea usually clears up by itself within 2 to 3 days,  if it persists beyond that a visit to a doctor might be ideal. Loperamide is great for abruptly bringing a running stomach to a halt but has the tendency to cause constipation as well as preventing any causative agents (toxins, bacteria or viruses) from being eliminated from the body. To avoid dehydration from the fluid loss due to the running stomach, it’s a great idea to have some rehydration fluids handy. They’re available as convenient dry powder sachets that can be reconstituted as needed. They sometimes come with probiotics to replace the important flora eliminated from the gut.



Some people are just prone to allergies. For these people, antihistamines are a definite must have for any unexpected hives or allergic reactions. Traveling to new places might introduce a person to a different season or even new unfamiliar cuisine that can trigger allergies.



Constipation is a common side effect of traveling long distances. Staying hydrated and taking short breaks to stretch and walk a little can help avoid getting constipation. However, older people or people prone to constipation might require a little help from laxatives to keep their bowels moving.



Some places require that you take precautions before you travel for diseases common there. For instance Kenya or Angola require a yellow fever certificate from travelers as a condition of entry into the countries. In other cases, preventative medication is not a prerequisite for entry but highly recommended. Research into diseases common in your travel destination is imperative so as to allow timeous initiation of prophylaxis medication. Some malaria prevention medication requires a one week window between initiation and entry into malaria endemic region.


Chronic medication

People who take chronic medications for diabetes or blood pressure should ensure that they have enough medications to last their entire trip. Some specialty medication may not be available in remote  places or other countries therefore one has to ensure they have made arrangements with their medical aid to have more than one month of medication supplied before the trip.

What medications are you carrying with you this holiday season? Stay safe and healthy!

Follow Jo on Instagram:  @jothepharmacist

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