Travel Prep Checklist: 9 Essential Medications To Pack in Your Travel Medical Kit

When planning for a trip, getting sick is hardly something you want to include.  Sometimes preparation is the best prevention. But you don’t want to bring your entire medicine cabinet with you. Just a handful of powerful over-the-counter medications are all you need.

There are a couple reasons you should pack a travel medical kit. Medication availability differs by country.  Plus, prices can be drastically different. And counterfeit medications can be a significant concern. Up to 30% of the world's drugs fail to meet quality and safety standards.  

Packing your own travel medications ensures you have what you need, when you need it. 

Foreign travelers aren't the only ones who can benefit from packing some OTC medications. Our habits often change when away from home which can cause several bodily discomforts.

9 Essential Travel Medications To Pack for Every Trip

This list contains the most commonly needed medications for travelers.  Adjust according to your needs. 

Want to take it with you?  Here’s a downloadable copy of my travel medical kit essentials.

1. Anti-diarrheal

Not to start out with the most uncomfortable topic, but diarrhea happens. Loperamide (Imodium) or Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) help get this uncomfortable digestive tract issue under control.  Taking some along can save you from being too attached to your hotel room bathroom.


2. Antacid

Pack both fast-acting Tums or Rolaids and longer-acting ranitidine (Zantac) or famotidine (Pepcid) if you often get heartburn. 

heart burn med to pack for travel

3.  Pain and fever medication

Ibuprofen (Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) are powerhouse travel medications. Use them to treat headaches, back pain, or achy feet.  Just pay attention to your dosage! It’s very easy to accidentally overdose on these medications.  

pain and fever med to pack for travel

4. Antihistamine

If traveling to a different climate, allergies may sneak up on you. Packing fexofenadine (Allegra) or loratadine (Claritin) to stop your unpleasant allergy symptoms.

allergy med to pack for travel

5. Sleep aid

Whether it's jet lag or just being in a different bed, sleep can be elusive when away from home. Packing melatonin or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can help you fall asleep faster.  If aches keep you awake at night, opt for a combo product.

sleep med to pack for travel

6. Laxative

Changes in diet and activity can have uncomfortable effects on the digestive tract. Packing a mild laxative such as senna (Senokot) or bisacodyl (Dulcolax) can ease this discomfort quickly. But not too quickly.

stool softener med to pack for travel

7. Anti-motion sickness

Opt for a less-drowsy formulation such as meclizine (Dramamine All Day) to enjoy all the train, bus, car, and boat rides of traveling without passing out on the unsuspecting person next to you.

dramamine motion sickness med to pack for travel

8. Decongestant medication

If you aren't buying the behind the counter pseudoephedrine (Sudafed,) then you aren't getting the most effective product. When suffering from congestion, you deserve a medication that works. 

sudafed decongestant med to pack for travel

9. Cough suppressant medication

Nobody wants to be that annoying person coughing every 5 seconds.  Packing some cough drops is the best way to combat this, as most other cough suppressant medications come in liquid form that create more hassle than benefit. 

cough drops for traveling


There you have it. Your travel medical kit essential medications.

Remember, adjust this list to your needs. But don’t forget to pack your prescription medications! You might find other first aid items, like bandages and gauze, helpful to pack. 

If you want a handy checklist to keep it all organized, grab one here.



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