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Packing for your summer holiday

Packing for your summer holiday

Yay, it’s summer holiday time! I don’t know about you but probably the only thing I really hate about preparing for a holiday is the packing! I always leave it until the last minute and then inevitably end up forgetting something! One thing that I always take plenty of though is over the counter medicines. I might even take too many away with me but I never get caught out and need something I don’t have. So I wanted to give you some tips of things that are certainly worth packing in your suitcase. Obviously the further afield you are going, the more items you might want to take and if you’re not leaving the country you don’t need to worry so much as it shouldn’t be too tricky to get to a local pharmacy.

Packing and Travel Nerves

Sometimes the run up to the holiday with all the organisation and packing, then travelling to the airport, coping with delays etc, can be very stressful. I’m sure with young children in tow the stress levels can soar! I’m a huge fan of Rescue Remedy to ease the angst and the aromatherapy roll ons for travel are excellent at soothing any travel nerves. 

Travel Sickness

Some people find car, plane and especially boat journeys very challenging for travel sickness. There are things you can do to try to prevent this. Ginger biscuits are always a good option to munch on and taking some cinnarizine (Stugeron) tablets just prior to travelling can help to reduce the symptoms. Some people find the accupressure wrist bands helpful and these may be worth a try. 

Dodgy Tummies

Probably the most dreaded holiday illness is diarrhoea and vomiting. They really can ruin a holiday. Obviously there are measures you can take to try to prevent it, such as not drinking tap water and avoiding having ice in your drinks; choosing food carefully and avoiding eating food from street sellers and not eating undercooked meat. But if you are unlucky enough to get diarrhoea there are some things you can do to help your symptoms. It’s worth taking a packet of loperamide (brand name Imodium) with you as this works to stop diarrhoea - although I am a big believer that sometimes it is better out than in! Oral rehydration salts such as Dioralyte, help to replace the sugars and salts lost during diarrhoea and vomiting and I would say these are an essential item to pack if you are travelling far afield.

If you’re prone to going the other way and getting a bit bunged up, pack some senna tablets as a gentle over the counter reliever for constipation. 

Overindulging on all that wonderful food and drink can also play havoc with your tummy, causing indigestion and acid reflux. I always take a good supply of ranitidine tablets which are an excellent treatment for indigestion and heartburn, as well as some antacid tablets such as Remegel or Gaviscon.

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, it’s worth taking some hyoscine butylbromide (Buscopan), mebeverine (Colofac) or peppermint oil capsules (Colpermin) as these can work really well for tummy cramps.

Pain and Fever

Hopefully no accidents will happen when you’re away, but you never know when that sprained ankle could happen or when you are going to go down with a virus or pesky headache. Make sure you take some simple painkillers away with you, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. If you know you have regular muscle or joint pain, or you’re on an active holiday where injuries might be likely to occur, it could be sensible to pack a tube of anti-inflammatory ibuprofen or diclofenac (Voltarol) gel which can be rubbed into the affected area and works really well for muscle and joint pain. 

First Aid

Definitely don’t go away without a packet of plasters and if you’re going somewhere off grid consider packing some simple dressings, bandages and even perhaps a sling - all of which can be purchased from the first aid section of your local chemist. Blister plasters are an absolute must if you are going to be doing lots of walking, especially if you haven’t worn your new shoes in yet!

Insect Bites and Hayfever

Mosquitoes really do seem to love my skin and a bad attack of bites has really ruined at least one of my holidays. Hayfever and allergies can also be a problem so make sure you take some over the counter tablet antihistamines (such as cetirizine or chlorphenamine) away with you and take at the first sign of itching. It’s also worth packing a tube of insect bite relieving cream or even better some hydrocortisone cream which is easily available at pharmacies. 


There are a couple of things which are worth packing especially for us ladies. Thrush whilst on holiday would be truly awful, so if this is something you are prone to it might be worth taking an over the counter thrush treatment with you, such as a Canesten pessary, tablet and/or cream in case you develop symptoms. Another thing which would be pretty uncomfortable on holiday is cystitis. Over the counter alkalinising sachets such as Cystopurin can be very helpful to relieve symptoms, make sure you drink plenty of fluids and you will need to see a doctor whilst you are away if you are very unwell or the sachets don’t help within a day or two.

Last but not least

Ensure you pack a good supply of any regular medicines you take, it’s always worth packing a few more tablets than you will need in case there was an unavoidable extension of your holiday like a flight cancellation. Make sure any important medicines are taken in your carry on cabin bag in case you need them during the flight.

Remember that some medicines are banned or restricted in certain countries which may mean you either need a letter from your doctor confirming you need the medication, or you may not be able to bring the medication into the country at all. Make sure you check the Travel Health Pro and Foreign and Commonwealth Office websites well before you travel to check there are no restrictions on bringing your medicines into the country. If you do need a letter from your doctor to confirm what medication you take, make sure you do this ideally 4 weeks before you travel so it is done in time, and remember this is not an NHS service so you will likely be charged by your GP for writing the letter.

Oh and of course don’t forget the sun cream! I hope you have a wonderful time away wherever you are going!

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