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Traveler's Health

I’m planning a vacation on board a cruise ship. Should I plan on bringing my own medical kit and if so, what products should be included?

It’s always wise to bring a medical kit with you on vacation, and especially for extended vacations. Having a few things on hand can help make your trip more enjoyable and minor illnesses less inconvenient.

Below are some suggested over-the-counter items to pack in your medical kit. After looking at these options, each traveler should personalize his or her own travel kit and decide which items are the best to carry.

  • Antiseptics (eg, betadine, alcohol)
  • Antibacterial soap or towelettes, hand-cleaning gel
  • Personal toilet tissue (small facial tissue pack works well), washcloth
  • Sterile bandages, ACE (rolled elastic) bandages, cotton
  • Scissors, tweezers, teaspoon, tablespoon
  • Thermometer – non-breakable digital versions are available
  • Aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naprosyn
  • Motion sickness pills (eg, Dramamine® or Bonine®)--look for the active ingredient meclizine, which is less sedating
  • Sunscreens
  • Anti-diarrheal medication (eg, Imodium AD® [loperamide])
  • Antacids, acid-blocking OTC medication (eg, Pepcid®), and/or Pepto-Bismol®
  • Laxatives or stool softeners (diet variances and travel can cause constipation)
  • Over-the-counter vaginal yeast medication, or athlete’s foot cream
  • Over-the-counter sleeping pills
  • Salt tablets where excessive perspiration will occur due to heavy exertion in a tropical area
  • Powdered sport drink to make rehydration solution (eg, Gatorade®, Powerade®)
  • Non-sugar sweeteners (eg, Sweet-n-Low®, Equal®, Splenda®) if medically indicated
  • Insect repellent with 30% to 50% DEET recommended (towelettes impregnated with repellent may be easiest to transport); Picaridin products are an alternative.
  • Common medications and necessities including decongestants, antacids, antihistamines, condoms, spermicidal gels, other contraceptives, and tampons/sanitary napkins
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses and contacts; hearing aid batteries; watch batteries

In case of custom inspections, bring prescription medications in their original containers to avoid questions related to a mixture of pills in a single bottle. This will also help in case of emergency refill requests.

If there are too many bottles, the next best thing is to list medications, including brand and generic names (brand names often vary overseas) and dosage amounts. Any necessary narcotics or needles should be carried along with a letter signed by a doctor explaining why and how they are to be used.


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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 12/15/2012...#12784