10 travel essentials for a healthy, happy holiday
Packing travel essentials

Did someone say holiday? It’s been a long time since we’ve heard that, but finally, we can blow the dust off our suitcases and fill it with essentials to keep us happy and healthy on our travels. 

You’d be forgiven for forgetting what you need to pack for summer travels - it’s been that long! Fear not, we’ve got the ultimate travel essentials guide to ensure you’re well prepared.

So put the flip-flops and bucket hats aside and make some room for the medicinal essentials that you can’t live without on a summer holiday.

Your travel checklist

Whether it’s a city break or a beach holiday, home or abroad, the following guide applies to all sorts of travels.

Get prepared to avoid any medical mishaps.

1. Get your jabs

This is one for before you travel. If you’re travelling overseas you may need to be vaccinated against serious diseases that are not found here in the UK. You won’t be protected against these diseases unless you’re vaccinated before you travel.

In order to build up immunity against diseases, the NHS recommends getting vaccinated at least 8 weeks before you travel. Your GP or a private travel vaccination clinic can administer the relevant jabs.

It’s important to get any necessary vaccinations especially if you’re vulnerable, but also because you may not be allowed to enter the country you’re visiting if you haven’t had the compulsory jabs.

Avoid leaving this too late and put your mind at ease by getting your jabs well in advance of your travels. 

2. Get insured

We hope that we don’t get injured or ill whilst on holiday, but accidents do happen and you could find yourself with a huge bill for medical treatment if you don’t have travel insurance.

Make sure you have travel insurance that covers you for emergency medical expenses. If your holiday involves dangerous activities that could lead to accidents such as climbing or paragliding, you’ll need your insurance to cover this too.

3. Pack a first aid kit

For minor injuries such as grazes, a first aid kit should be all you need to help you continue with your holiday safely.

You can buy fully prepared first aid kits or make up your own with the essentials you need for things like cuts, bites and stings, and minor pain.

Woman packing a first aid kit into suitcase

Here’s what you need for a basic first aid kit:

  • Plasters, bandages, and sterile gauze dressings of all shapes and sizes (include blister plasters)
  • Hydrocortisone cream for skin rashes and insect bites and stings
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Antihistamine tablets or cream
  • Painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol for adults and children
  • Aspirin
  • Eyewash and eye bath
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive tape
  • Safety pins
  • Tweezers
  • Disposable gloves
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Thermometer
  • Hand sanitiser

Pharmacy pick - Daktacort

Hot weather can cause serious irritation to the skin, and sometimes a cold compress isn’t enough to relieve this. Daktacort contains hydrocortisone and is an effective treatment for inflamed sweat rash. Hydrocortisone can relieve swelling, redness, and itching associated with sweat rash.

4. Don’t forget your personal medication

Although you’re on holiday, you still need to take your daily/weekly medication and it’s so easy to forget to pack this. 

You may keep your medication in a specific place to help you remember to take it and it might not occur to you to put it in your travel bag, but it is

the

most important thing to pack. Put it at the top of your checklist! 

When you get your medication from the pharmacy, keep some aside for those dates that you’re on holiday and pack them in your suitcase/travel bag ready to go. 

5. If you have severe allergies, take an adrenaline auto-injector

Severe allergies can be life-threatening and an adrenaline auto-injector could potentially save your life in an emergency. Food allergies in particular can be dangerous when abroad because of the language barrier and not being able to read and understand menus at restaurants. 

If you happen to be exposed to a dangerous allergen, you can administer an auto-injector such as EpiPen which delivers adrenaline to your body to assist its response to anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction), and help stop the fatal effects.

It’s really important that you or those around you understand how to use an auto-injector. You should also carry two with you at all times in case the first one doesn’t work. How many you pack depends on how long you will be travelling. 

Pharmacy pick - Benadryl Allergy Relief Plus

While an adrenaline auto-injector is vital for those with severe allergies, those of us with less serious allergies should remember to pack their antihistamines. Summertime is rife for allergies, particularly

hay fever. With the pollen count rising, keep antihistamines handy to relieve the irritating symptoms. Benadryl Allergy Relief Plus not only relieves hay fever, but it’s also a decongestant and can alleviate the symptoms of other allergies such as pets and dust mites.

This medicine contains acrivastine (an antihistamine) and pseudoephedrine (a decongestant) which combined help to clear the airways, reduce pressure in your head, and relieve itchy, watery eyes, nose and throat as well as sneezing.

6. Prevent and soothe sunburn

Prevention is always better than cure, and if you don’t want wrinkly sun-damaged skin to remind you of your travels in years to come - pack that sun protection!

If you’re holidaying in the UK you still need to wear sun protection as you can still burn in the UK sun. The same goes for winter holidays, particularly when skiing as sunburn on the face is particularly prevalent.

Although we like to enjoy catching some rays, staying in the shade when the sun is at its highest and strongest (between 11 am and 3 pm) is sensible. That way you can enjoy the sun without feeling the painful side effects. 

Use an SPF of at least 30 that has both UVA and UVB protection and reapply it every two hours - more so if you’ve been in the water and washed off the sunscreen.

That old bottle of sunscreen in the back of your cupboard may not be suitable to pack this year as expired sunscreen is actually ineffective and won’t protect you against sun damage. Be sure to stock up before you travel!

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7. Treat and prevent travel sickness

Wherever you go on holiday it’s likely you’ll be travelling by car, boat, plane or train at some point, and if you suffer from motion sickness you’ll need to plan ahead to avoid the dizzy and nauseous symptoms. 

If you know you’re likely to feel or be sick when travelling, take travel sickness medication before you go to prevent the symptoms. You should also pack some medication in case you need to treat the effects when they happen. 

There are many products aimed to remedy travel sickness including tablets, patches and acupressure bands. Medicines containing the ingredient promethazine can treat nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness. They’re usually taken the night before to prevent symptoms.

Pharmacy pick - Stugeron

Whether you travel by car, boat, plane or train there is a risk you could experience some unpleasant symptoms caused by motion. Nausea, vomiting, dizziness and headache are just some of the symptoms of travel sickness. 

Stugeron contains the active ingredient cinnarizine which is an antihistamine used to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting. You can take two tablets two hours before travelling and then one tablet every eight hours. This will help to keep those travel sickness symptoms at bay. 

8. Repel pesky insects!

Mosquito

Most insect bites are minor, and the itchy swollen symptoms will improve within hours or days. Nevertheless, they’re not nice and they can put a dampener on your holiday!

There are many ways to ward off nuisance insects and prevent a bite or sting. Try specialist insect repellent sprays that are designed to interfere with the insect’s sense of smell and taste and therefore confuse and divert them away from human skin.

Some insects carry diseases, for example, Lyme disease is transmitted from ticks and malaria from mosquitoes. Always remove stings or ticks from your skin to avoid spreading infection, using the tweezers you’ve packed in your first aid kit.

When it comes to mosquitoes, speak to your GP before travelling to a country that has a high risk of malaria. You may need to take antimalarial medication before, during and after your travels. An insect repellent that contains at least 50% DEET is needed to protect against mosquitoes. 

9. Avoid dehydration and stomach bugs

Diarrhoea and an upset stomach seem to be part of the parcel of travelling abroad, but it can be avoided. 

To prevent succumbing to the unfortunate ‘travellers’ diarrhoea’, do not drink tap water overseas. In many countries, water is contaminated with parasites and bacteria, and once ingested you can expect to spend most of your time on the toilet! 

Bottled water is fine, so pack as much as you can. Keeping hydrated is important, particularly in hot countries as dehydration can become very serious and something you don’t want to experience on holiday.

If you do fall victim to stomach bugs and travellers’ diarrhoea, you can count on Immodium and other

anti-diarrhoea medications that you will have surely packed.

Pharmacy pick - Imodium

An essential in anyone’s suitcase when travelling abroad. Diarrhoea is a real risk not only in hot weather (due to heat exhaustion and dehydration) but also when travelling to foreign countries. Food poisoning is all too common in some parts of the world. Food can be contaminated with all sorts of bacteria, viruses and parasites, and unfortunately, diarrhoea can be a symptom of this poisoning.

Apart from avoiding drinking water from a tap when abroad (read more ways to avoid food poisoning), it can be pretty difficult to dodge food poisoning, so it’s important to have medicines on hand to treat the symptoms fast.

Imodium is the first choice for many travellers. It contains loperamide hydrochloride which slows down an overactive bowel and replenishes the salts and water lost through diarrhoea. Imodium Instant Melts get to work within one hour and it can be taken on the go without water for fast relief. Simply place a tablet on your tongue, let it dissolve, and swallow.

10. Footcare

Last but not least, give your feet some TLC after all that walking and adventure. Blister plasters are a must in your travel bag!

Pack suitable shoes to wear around the pool at all times to avoid catching verrucas or warts, and keep your feet thoroughly dry to prevent fungal nail infections and athlete’s foot as warmth and moisture is the perfect recipe for infections!

To keep your feet looking fresh in sandals carry some foot/cracked heel cream to soothe dry skin.

Summer feet by a pool

And there you have it, with our travel essentials checklist you’ll be well prepared for a safe, healthy, and happy holiday!

Check out our holiday and travel category to shop for all your essentials, and don’t worry, we have next day delivery available for those last-minute trips!

Laura Shillcock - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 28 March 2023
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