Level up your holiday & travel care with pharmacy-strength medicines

Level up your holiday & travel care with pharmacy-strength medicines

Family walking through an airport
If you’re travelling to a hot destination this summer, it’s important to pack smart. Millions of us every year look forward to taking a well-deserved holiday, but many of us are also faced with ailments to contend with such as travel sickness, digestive problems, skin irritation, and allergies.
Avoid this by packing essential medical care that can prevent or treat these illnesses effectively. You want to rest assured that should these problems strike, you can rely on effective medicines that will help you recover quickly so that you can get on with your summer fun!
We’ve rounded up the top four pharmacy-strength medicines to pack. 

What are pharmacy-strength medicines? 

All medicines have a classification which is determined by things like their chemical structure, what they’re used to treat, and how much input is needed by a medical professional. Medicines are classified into 3 categories, these being; GSL (General Sales List), P (Pharmacy), and POM (Prescription-only medicine). Here’s what these categories mean:

  • General Sales List (GSL) - these medicines can be bought from almost any retail store, supermarket, local newsagent, etc. A medical professional does not need to be present when purchasing these medicines and you don’t need to answer any questions.
  • Pharmacy (P) - these can only be bought from a pharmacy and under a pharmacist’s supervision. You may be asked a few questions such as your age and what you intend to use the medicine for. 
  • Prescription-only medicine (POM) - you need a prescription authorised by a medical professional such as a doctor or nurse to obtain these medicines and they must be dispensed in a pharmacy. You will need to have a consultation to get a prescription. 

Person handing a prescription to a pharmacist

Are P medicines more effective than GSLs? 

Pharmacy-strength medicines, or Ps as they’re commonly known, may have a higher strength or larger pack size compared to those that you can buy off the shelf (GSLs). Whilst they’re not usually intended for long-term use, they can provide effective relief from short-term illnesses like those that you may experience in hot weather such as upset stomach, hay fever, travel sickness, and skin irritation. 
They’re not always more effective, as some people find that medicines bought from the supermarket work fine to relieve their symptoms, but if you want a bigger pack size to take with you for a longer trip, or you respond better to a higher dose or strength, then pharmacy-strength medicines may be more suitable.
Take Imodium for example, you can buy some Imodium off the shelf without any medical supervision, and some can only be bought from a pharmacy whether that be in-store or online. For example, Imodium Instants 12 pack is classed as a GSL, but Imodium Instant Melts 18 pack is a P medicine - this is because of the bigger pack size which is exclusive to pharmacy. 
Imodium Instants are sometimes the preferred choice because of their convenience, especially when travelling. Instants are orodispersible tablets which means they dissolve on the tongue and there is no need to take them with water, unlike the Imodium Classics which come in capsule form. Some people find swallowing tablets unpleasant or difficult, so Imodium Instant Melts are a good option in this case.

P medicines to pack this summer

We’ve got you covered with the all-important P medicines to pack that will treat the most common travel ailments. 



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. 



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Daktacort Hydrocortisone Cream - 15g

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. 



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. 

Benadryl Allergy Relief Plus


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.   

Can you take pharmacy-strength medicines abroad? 


The classification of medicines in the UK can be different to other countries. A medicine that is a P in the UK may be a POM in another country and vice versa, so it’s important to check the rules of the country you’re visiting before you pack. Check if your medicine is allowed to be taken into the country you’re travelling to, and if they accept the pack size you want to take. 
Any medicines you do take with you should be in their original packaging so it is clear what the medicine is and what it is used for. You should also check with your airline whether you can pack medicines in your hand luggage. Ideally, you should pack some in your hand luggage and hold luggage in case one gets lost. 
Other things to consider when taking medicines abroad:

  • Check the expiry date of your medicine - will it cover you for the duration of your travels? If not, it’s time to re-purchase
  • Check the storage information (located in the description of all Chemist4U product pages) - some medicines need to be stored at a certain temperature 
  • To avoid any problems at customs, it’s a good idea to take with you any information about your health condition that you need the medicine for, and the generic name of the medicine. For example, loperamide, which is the generic name of the brand Imodium

Now you’re all set for summer! You can shop all our P medicine travel picks here


Laura Shillcock -
James O'Loan - CEO & Prescribing Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Prescribing Pharmacist on 15 July 2022
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