Traveling over the past nine or so years both domestically and internationally has given me experience and perspective on what items I need most–and actually use–when I travel. No matter how short or long your trip is, there’s nothing worse than getting sick or not feeling your best, mentally and physically, while traveling… Or even when you get back to life and work afterwards. So, taking some precautions and bringing a few specific items along on your trip could greatly help!
Here are the top five items I suggest you pack on your next trip, whether it’s a weekend away in the neighboring town or a couple weeks out of the country:
Nothing’s worse than trying to sleep in a hotel, or on a plane, train, or bus, and all you can hear are people talking, kids screaming, or honking and traffic noise outside. It seems simple, but earplugs are a must when traveling, as sleep is vital when you’re on the road. If you frequently take red eye flights or need to schedule in a sleep period on a long international flight, pop in a pair of foam earplugs and relax as the interference around you fades away…
The brand of earplugs James and I are currently using are Hearos. They’re the foam type earplugs and are cheap, but they are comfortable and work pretty well.
**Note*** This sounds silly, but there’s a particular way to put in earplugs to ensure they’re REALLY working. We watched this video before our trip, which was of great help.
Just like earplugs, a face mask is also a necessity for getting good sleep. It’s great on an airplane when you want to take a snooze, works like a charm when you’re in a hotel or friend’s house that is particularly sunny, and is vital for an overnight bus or train trip so that you aren’t woken up by the sun at 5am!
James bought me this face mask, and I’ve been very pleased with it! It even has little pouches in each side for your ear plugs.
3. Hand sanitizer
I’m not a clean freak or germ freak, but I’ve come to realize that when you’re traveling, it’s really important to keep yourself as healthy and bacteria/germ/disease-free as possible. You are exposed to SOOOO much more bacteria and sicknesses while traveling than you normally would in your ordinary, everyday life.
And, keeping your hands clean is even MORE important when you travel to foreign countries with much lower sanitation regulations and conditions than ours…. countries and areas such as India, China, South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, etc. In order to stay healthy and feeling good on your trip–and also when you return back home–sanitizer solution will help kill some of that nasty bacteria that could otherwise cause you a bout of the flu, bronchitis, strep throat, or diarrhea.
Use sanitizer solution any time after you touch animals, shake hands with somebody, touch railings or bars in buses, trains, or subways, and after using the restroom. Be wary that in some countries such as India, or places in the middle east and Africa, many people and cultures use their left hand instead of toilet paper when using the restroom. Here, it is even more important to be extra aware of your personal habits and restrain from biting your fingernails, touching your mouth, or putting your fingers in your eyes to itch them.
4. A homemade “medicine kit”
While you are traveling, SO many things could happen physically that could disrupt or ruin your trip. You are exposed to a LOT more germs and possible food or water contamination than you would in your normal everyday life.
Therefore, I feel it’s important to have a handy homemade medicine kit with you just in case you’re feeling crummy on your vacation.
Sure, you could buy some of this stuff on the road if needed, but it’s much more convenient to have medication quickly and easily accessible. In addition, it’s often difficult to find any of these items in other countries.
You don’t need to be as thorough as I have noted below, but a LOT of these things have totally SAVED me in the past! And I cannot tell you HOW many times these meds have come in handy for both James and I in the past 4+ months of traveling so far!!
(Note: I am not a doctor or medical professional, I’m just sharing my experience with medicine… Make sure to talk to your doctor and/or do research before taking any meds yourself!)
SO… Put together a medicine kit with the following items:
Ibuprofen/Tylenol/Excedrin/aspirin. Pack one or two of these meds along; basically whichever one works best for you for muscle aches and whichever one that works best for you for a headache. Personally, I use Excedrin for headaches and Ibuprofen for muscle aches.
Pepto Bismol and/or Immodium. Important especially if you are traveling to a foreign country. Vital to have in case of diarrhea or bad stomach upset. Some doctors actually recommend taking one or two Pepto Bismol pills a day to prevent stomach sickness when traveling in less clean countries.
Benedryl. A great pill for many things, including a rash or itchy bites, or for runny nose and allergies, and ALSO great to use if you need something to make you drowsy (fight jet lag, trying to sleep on a red eye flight, etc.) This is my “drug of choice” when I need to sleep on a plane or train (and when I worked at a pharmacy years ago, the pharmacist actually recommended this over sleeping pills to help you fall asleep).
Cold medication tablets. Something like daytime and nighttime multi-symptom tablets, such as Nyquil in case you pick up a nasty cold or flu.
Tums/heart burn meds. If you have any problems with stomach issues (due to food) or heart burn, good to have some of these meds along.
Dramamine/Bonine. If part of your trip might include a cruise or boat ride, or you have any problems with motion sickness, you probably want to pack along one of these to help with sea sickness or motion sickness. It’s probably a better option than puking off the side of the boat, or spending the whole time feeling sick to your stomach!
Cough drops. Not a necessity out of all the other meds, but cough drops can be helpful if you start to pick up a cold or have a flight that leaves you with a very dry throat.
To keep you MENTALLY entertained and happy on your travels, make sure to pack along a book to read, crossword or sudoku puzzles, an mp3 player loaded with music and podcasts, or video games you can play on your phone or laptop. Travel can be LONG and unexpected delays and emergencies can sometimes leave you with many extra hours–or sometimes days–to spare. Keep yourself sane, calm, and patient during these travel times and delays with books and games that will stimulate your brain and help you focus on more pleasant things. Just make sure that technology doesn’t take over SO much that you spend more time gazing at pixels on your screen rather than absorbing the people, culture, and surroundings around you. Sometimes people-watching when you’re “trapped” in an airport or train can be one of the most fascinating forms of entertainment and cultural education there is!
What are you must-pack items to keep you and your family happy and healthy while traveling?