Use this checklist as a guide to things you may need in your medical kit when travelling – you may need less or more, depending on the activities you may undertake, and the remoteness of the area you visit.
Think about the area you are visiting and what may or may not be available there. Some careful planning and packing before your trip can avoid any wasted time, inconvenience or worse while you’re away. Check with your doctor or travel clinic for advice if you aren’t sure what you may need to keep your travels safe and healthy.
- Analgesic (pain relief) medicine such as paracetamol or aspirin.
- Antihistamine tablets for bites, stings or allergies.
- Cold and flu tablets.
- Cough medicine.
- Motion sickness tablets.
- Throat lozenges or drops.
- Antiseptic solution for cleaning wounds or bites.
- Antiseptic ointment to apply to a wound.
- Blister and wound patches, such as sticking plasters.
- Medical adhesive tape, e.g. Micropore.
- Wound dressings, e.g. a crepe bandage, gauze swabs and OpSite, and Steristrips, which can often take the place of stitches.
- Safety pins, scissors and tweezers (you may not be allowed to carry these in your cabin luggage).
- Insect repellent containing DEET (diethyl toluamide).
- Sting relief solution, e.g. Stingose (aluminium sulfate).
- Diarrhoea medicine, e.g. Imodium (loperamide).
- Mild laxative, for constipation.
- Antacid for indigestion.
- Antifungal or antibacterial cream.
- Low potency hydrocortisone cream.
- Fluid and electrolyte replacement powder or tablets, e.g. Gastrolyte or HYDRAlyte.
- Eye lubricant drops.
- Ear plugs.
- Sunscreen (at least SPF 30+).
- Thermometer (a forehead thermometer is best for travel as it doesn’t break or run out of batteries).
- Health insurance card.
Other items you should think about taking, depending on your individual needs and your destination, include:
- Regular prescription medicines, which should be kept in their original containers with clear labels and carried in your hand luggage when travelling. You should also take a letter from your doctor stating the names of the medicines, the dose and that they are for your personal use, plus a copy of your prescriptions, written using the generic name of the drug to avoid confusion with trade names in foreign countries. Some countries may not let visitors bring in certain medicines, so you may wish to check first with the embassy or consulate in Australia, before you go. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia has information on travelling with medicines.
- Medical equipment you use regularly, such as sterile syringes and needles.
- Spare pair of glasses or your eye prescription.
- Condoms, birth control pills, or other contraceptives.
- Water purifying tablets.
- A mosquito-proof bed net.
- Hand sanitiser or wipes.
- Digital thermometer.
- Sterile syringes.
- First aid reference.
Prescription medicines for travel-related conditions
Travel to developing countries, remote areas, tropical climates and high altitudes increases your risk of certain conditions that you would not encounter at home or during travel to developed temperate-climate countries. Many of these conditions are treated or avoided by taking prescription medicines. So, apart from taking your regular prescription medicines with you, as described above, your doctor or travel clinic may suggest some of the following:
- Altitude sickness medicines.
- Antibiotics for certain intestinal infections or for serious respiratory infection.
- Malaria prevention tablets.