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What medicines should I take on Holiday? Your Pharmacy Travel Pack.

Updated: Jul 20, 2019

Realised you are about to travel, and not prepared for if you become sick while abroad? What can you even take in your hand luggage? This post details the travel essentials, including medicines, creams, and other life-savers you may want to get from your local pharmacy before you jet off.

Allow me to portray a common scene in the pharmacy:

Man/Woman comes into pharmacy stressed. They are going on holidays in like 8 hours, and just remembered they do not speak the language of the place they are going to, or are not sure what medicines are available there, or if they would even be able to communicate with a pharmacist in their holiday destination, if they needed to. So they buy a random collection of medicines and creams etc and off they go, just as stressed leaving as when they came in. It does not have to be this way. Follow my DailyDoseofGinger guide to your Pharmacy Travel Pack – do not be stuck while abroad!

**NB – Please note: Any medications listed below must only be taken if they are suitable for the person taking them – if you, or someone else who may take the medicine listed, are taking any other medications or supplements (over the counter or otherwise), or have any underlying chronic/acute condition, please speak to your pharmacist about the suitability of the medicines for you/the person concerned. I also always recommend to read the package leaflet inside the box the medication comes in for further instructions/advice, and to ensure not to give medicine to someone who it is not suitable for (e.g. adult dose of medication to a child, or medication which is not suitable for u12 to a child etc).

All the items listed are available over the counter in pharmacies in the republic of Ireland, but different countries have different availability of medicines over the counter, just to be aware of that . :)

1. Pain relief medicine

Who knows when you might feel pain on holidays? A headache after a long, noisy flight? A sprained ankle from hiking? Talk to your pharmacist about taking a painkiller such as paracetamol or ibuprofen with you (both available OTC), to see if they are suitable for you!

2. Antihistamines

For allergies! Also great for if you get an angry, itchy bug bite, should take the itch away, and help with swelling. There are also antihistamine creams available, which are less than 100mL so can be brought on to your carry on.

3. Insect repellent

Speaking of those little critters…. Best to try to repel them. Some insect repellants which are available in Irish Pharmacies include the following:

4. Insect bite treatment

As I said, just in case! You can get some nice cooling ones which help with relief, as well as the aforementioned antihistamine creams.

5. Travel sickness medicine

Fun story - when I was younger, we travelled from Ireland to France via car and boat. I get travel sick. Let’s just say that the roof box we had on top of the car was opened on a regular basis throughout the days for changes of clothes for me! Be prepared for this with travel sickness bands and/or tablets.

6. Antidiarrhoeal medicine

e.g. Imodium – getting hit with traveller’s diarrhoea while abroad is not ideal but unfortunately, it can happen, and it is definitely better to be prepared for it than not! However, if you do have a travel bug or food poisoning, it is better to let it out of your system if you can, and to stay hydrated, than to stop it with antidiarrhoeal medication. However, if you are on the move, and can’t take a day or two to rest and let it be, then this will be your friend (watch the dosage of course and do not take more than the recommended dose and for short term only! You do not want to go to the other extreme and become constipated!

7. Rehydration Salts

This follows on from travel sickness medicine and antidiarrhoeal medication – if you vomit, have diarrhoea, are sweating a lot, or just know by how you feel/how your urine looks that you are dehydrated, then rehydration salts, in the form of sachets or effervescent tablets, are amazing to have in your bag. If you’re dehydrated, water alone will not relieve how lethargic you feel, so these are a must-have!

8. Decongestant nasal spray

This could be handy to have if you suffer from a cold after being on the plane etc – you don’t want a blocked nose to ruin your trip! However a decongestant can interact with different medications and conditions such as high blood pressure, and others, so speak to your doctor or pharmacist before using one. There are also saline nasal sprays which are great for clearing a blocked nose and great for if you suffer from hay fever too as they rinse your nose out!

9. Laxative

e.g. Senna (Senokot in Ireland). These are to be used only sparingly and only for a short term (a few days at most). If you are self-prescribing, be sure to only use it when necessary, and when a high fibre diet accompanied with high fluid intake fails to relieve your constipation. One dose maybe enough to get your system moving, after that see how you go with a good diet full of fruit and wholemeal cereals etc and lots of fluid.

10. Antacids

Sometimes eating different foods that we are not used to abroad, or portions that are larger than normal, or eating closer to bedtime, can give us some mild. Heartburn – obviouslyan ongoing problem with acid reflux should not be addressed so lightly but if. there is. Some mild heartburn after a nice big spicy meal or something – these can be handy to have.


Not medicine but oh my goodness these are lifesavers and most pharmacies will stock them – there is nothing worse than trying to go on a camino, or do some sightseeing, and not be able to enjoy it because your feet are killing you! Normal plasters are great to have too of course

12. Antiseptic wipes and/or cream

This is super handy for if someone gets a cut or a sting! Also if you get wipes – they can be super handy to have to keep your hands clean incase you are eating on the go etc, or find a restroom of questionable cleanliness!


If you’re not sure which SPF to go for etc – check out my post on the importance of sunscreen and SPF! I have recommended a great sunscreen below also - great for people with sensitive skin e.g. atopic skin, psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, sensitive skin in general.

4. Earplugs and Eye-mask

Again, not medicine, but a travel essential you can find in a pharmacy – especially important if you’re going camping or staying in hostels – could be noisy and/or bright in the mornings, and you’ll need your beauty sleep to enjoy those beautiful days

Discussing which medicines to bring on holidays is great, but the pharmacist in me wants to make sure that everybody understands that medicines, supplements, conditions, and even certain foods, can interact and cause problems – so before taking medicines/supplements together, I am highlighting again that you make sure to discuss it with your pharmacist, and make sure to read the patient information leaflet that comes with the pack too, to make sure you know how to take it and if it is appropriate for you.

This is just a guideline, but some of these medicines will not be appropriate for certain groups of patients, the important thing is to always check with your pharmacists. Trust me, your pharmacist will not mind. At all – they are the drug EXPERTS and will be glad to put their vast knowledge of drugs, conditions and the right reference sources to good use. Also watch out for alcohol as something that can. Interact with certain medications, such as certain antihistamines and motion sickness tablets. If you are ever unsure – ask!

Let me know YOUR holiday pharmacy essentials, tips and tricks. If you like this kind of content, then please subscribe! Thanks for reading x


Lauren xx

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