My portable travel pharmacy

*Disclaimer:  this is not medical advice.  This post is a description of medications I take with me on my travels.  Consult with a doctor to determine your own medical needs.  Don’t be coming back here blaming me when you have an allergic reaction to a pill and your tongue swells up like a butternut squash.

The longer I’ve traveled, the more occasions have come up where my body decides not to cooperate and needs some help getting back into proper form.  In my small toiletries bag, I always keep a pill bottle filled with a variety of useful medications to combat minor health issues that may come up from time to time.

Here’s a list of what I typically travel with:

1) Benadryl.  I don’t carry this for allergy purposes, though it can be useful for that too.  I take benadryl once in a while to help me fall asleep.  It comes especially in handy when traveling across several time zones and my body’s internal clock is all messed up from jet lag.

2) Ibuprofen.  Great for minor aches, pains, and headaches.  All of which seem to be getting more common the older I get [sad face].

3) Ciprofloxacin.  I fortunately do not need to take this often, but it’s been a lifesaver when I’ve gotten stomach bugs in third world countries.  The good thing about Cipro is that in many countries outside of the United States, it’s easy for me to walk into a pharmacy and just buy this stuff without a prescription.  But I’d still rather have it readily available in my bag when the urgent situation first arises.

4) Metronidazole.  I’ve not yet needed to use this, but I’ve taken it with me to countries with a decent risk of parasitic infections (e.g. Giardia).  Keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll never need it.

5) Allegra.  I’ll take these pills for seasonal allergies if I’m traveling during the spring months.  They don’t make me drowsy like Benadryl so I can still function like a normal person during the day.

These are over-the-counter medications, except for the antibiotics.  For those, I let my primary care doctor know that I’m traveling to other countries with questionable drinking water, and I’ve never had a problem getting a supply of the medicine called in to my pharmacy.

To keep the volume to a minimum, I take all my pills and put them into a single bottle.  I find that the semi-transparent ones you get from the pharmacy are perfect (as shown below).  They’re sturdy and easy to open and close without too much fuss.

In addition to the above pills, I also carry around a few Band-Aids because I tend to be injury prone, and if I expect to be doing any significant amount of hiking, I’ll also pack a small roll of medical tape in the event I get blisters on my feet.  My feet are already pretty callused from all the hiking and running I do at home, so it’s got to be some really serious hiking for me to need that stuff; most of the time I just leave the medical tape at home.

A few small alcohol pads as well as a bottle of hand sanitizer round out the remaining contents of my portable pharmacy.


3 thoughts on “My portable travel pharmacy

  1. I would add in the list a baby wipes for quick cleaning of almost anything (cheese powder etc.), Betadine, and ointment for headache and stomach ache. The latter is what I often use since I get a headache whenever there’s a strong fragrance of perfume; anything natural, is easier to deal with.


    1. Baby wipes are awesome, and their usefulness is inversely proportional to how developed the country is. I actually prefer alcohol pads to betadine because any iodine product can leave a hard-to-remove stain if you get it on your clothes, but both work really well as disinfectants.


  2. If you get caught in a pinch with blisters on your feet, rub some deodorant (I know, gross, but hey, you do what you gotta do!) on the parts before they get raw. For example, I have a Chaco strap that crosses over my big toe, and when we’re going around in soggy places, it will tend to get a blister. I just rub some deodorant (again, gross) on the top of my toe, and it keeps the moisture from affecting my skin.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s