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Pepto-Bismol? Check. Ace bandage? Check. This is me mentally going through the contents of my traveling medicine bag. Whenever I travel long distances, I grab my plastic travel bag that contains medications and first aid items. I’ve learned that when traveling you can’t always buy medications when you need them. For the most part, my medicine bag is ready to go at a moment’s notice; I do, however, review expiration dates before I leave and replace any items that have expired. Most of the time the contents of my medicine bag does not change, but it may vary depending on my destination.

Obviously I’m a detail-oriented person, but I’ve learned a lot about packing from my mother. Once when I was preparing for a trip to China, my mother told me, “Throw in some strapping tape and an Ace bandage.” I mumbled to myself, “Why do I need those things?” Being a dutiful daughter, I threw them into my bag. Traveling in China during the 1980s was restrictive. You could not deviate from the schedule and most certainly could not leave the tour group to run to the nearest drugstore to make a purchase. So sure enough when someone in my tour group fell down and sprained her ankle, I stuck my hand up in the air proudly and said, “I have an Ace bandage!” And later during the tour when someone’s suitcase tore, I volunteered, “I have strapping tape, if you need it.” Two out of two – never again have I doubted my mom’s packing advice!

While traveling with my children over the years, I’ve learned that unexpected issues can arise and it’s always better to be prepared. Because of this I’ve had to add items to my traveling medicine bag. I’ll never forget this experience: It was a lovely day in Hawaii and my husband, children, and I were enjoying a day out on the beach. My oldest son was building a sand castle when he stepped on a bee and got stung underneath his big toe. I grabbed my room key, which was a plastic credit card-type, and gently scraped across his skin to remove the stinger. As his foot began to swell, I reached for a chilled can of soda from our day pack and held it to the swelling. Once back in our hotel¬†room, I applied hydrocortisone cream to the area and gave him a Benadryl tablet. Since we were in Hawaii, we could have easily run out to a drugstore, but having these items on hand, I was able to attend to his swollen foot without delay and prevented his symptoms from getting worse.

Like prescribed medications, I keep this medicine bag in my carry on luggage. To make the traveling medicine bag lighter, more organized, and more compact, I remove all medicine from their boxes. Then I dismantle the boxes until they are flat and make photocopies of the important information on them. I cut out the photocopied information and put them into sandwich-sized Ziploc bags along with the medication. Blister packs of medication work well, but If you have bulky pill bottles or Costco-sized containers, pour some pills into labeled (medication name, # of mg/per pill, dose, expiration date) small, jewelry-sized plastic bags before placing them into the sandwich bags with the instruction sheets. All sandwich-sized Ziploc bags then get placed into the traveling medicine bag. I probably would have made a great Girl Scout, because I am always prepared!

Linnell’s Traveling Medicine Bag:
Ibuprofen (Advil)
Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Pepto-Bismol
Antidiarrheal (Imodium)
Decongestant
Antihistamine (Benadryl)
Hydrocortisone cream
Antibiotic ointment
Alcohol wipes
Assortment of bandages
Ace bandage
Blister pads or Moleskin
Digital thermometer
Dramamine or Sea Bands
Eye drops

If traveling overseas, I might add:
Antibiotics
Dental repair kit

Always read and follow the accompanying instructions on medications and always check with your doctor to see if there are any contraindications for any member in the family to take these drugs.

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