Top 10 Medical Must Haves
Top 10 Medical Must Haves

Top 10 Medical Must Haves

Top 10 Medical Must Haves


Before we talk about medical must haves, let me start with a few important thoughts.

First, let me say that we absolutely recognize that it’s a privilege to travel.  It truly is and we don’t take it for granted.

Second, we realize that we are among fortunate in that we have health insurance here at home.  For so many it’s an unrealized dream.

Finally, the ability to add travel insurance that includes medical coverage is something that we are grateful for. That’s why its top of mind on our list of medical must haves.

Travel Insurance – Should We or Shouldn’t We?

When we first started traveling, we never considered getting travel insurance, it just didn’t seem important.  I mean, we had never had an experience that led us to believe that it was relevant to us.  No canceled flights, no lost luggage, no medical emergencies, you get the idea.

As our trips became longer and more costly, we started getting insurance to cover the cost of the trip, but we didn’t pay much attention to the medical components.

Then Covid.   That changed everything that we though we knew about how to travel smart.

Travel During Covid

While we have always been cognizant of our physical limitations and the possibility that we might need to access medical care in the countries we visit, we never have.

When we went to Tanzania and the Seychelles for a month during the last gasp of Covid, we knew that we needed to consider all eventualities, including hospitalization and potential evacuation.  Especially since we would be in remote locations with absolutely no healthcare facilities.

As it turned out, we didn’t need medical care, but we did have a few issues that required first aid.  Thank goodness we had almost everything we needed with us.

Our Experience

While we were in the Serengeti, I was bitten by spiders and tsetse flies which caused an allergic reaction.  I was covered with bites and the itching was excruciating.  Dr. Google suggested toothpaste and it did provide minor relief.  Make a note of that, you might need that info in the future. 🙂

Despite dousing myself with sunscreen I got a miserable sunburn in both Zanzibar and the Seychelles.   Fortunately we were able to find some aloe vera at a local pharmacy, it was a life saver!

During our final week, I got sick from what I thought was extended use of an anti-malarial.  It turns out that I contracted a bacterial infection or a parasite, my medical professionals still aren’t sure.  Over a year later, I still have recurring issues.  It was a gift to have access to the medical care I needed when we came home.


Clearly, none of these things were medical emergencies but they were minor inconveniences.  That made me think about my “medical must haves.”

Our list includes the things we normally take with us but we also have country-specific items on each trip.

What do you think?  Are you always prepared?  Don’t worry about it?  Just let me go on vacation?

Share your medical must haves with us in the comments.  We are interested to hear what we missed.

Our Top 10 Medical Must Haves

  1. Prescription Medication and Supplements – This is the first, and most dreaded, thing that I do when I’m packing. I take a LOT of supplements and it takes some time, especially for a longer trip.
  2. Immunizations – We use Passport Health for our travel immunizations. They take good care of us and are able to prescribe location-specific medications if we need them.  They have our history on file which is a plus.
  3. Band-Aids for Blisters (and more) – I always carry an assortment of sizes and I use at least one on every single trip. Blisters, cuts, broken fingernail, you name it, I’m covered.   Bonus points for subbing as tape in a pinch.
  4. Chapstick and Eyedrops – I have allergies and dry eyes and I’m hopelessly reliant on lip hydration. I never leave my house without either.
  5. Tummy Trouble – Who wants to search out a pharmacy for tummy issues? Not me.  I travel with remedies for heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and an upset stomach.  Enough said!
  6. Hydration – I travel with single serve packets of electrolytes. This has been especially helpful when we are in hot and humid climates.
  7. Antibiotics – I take an antibiotic with me on every trip outside of the US. Most times I don’t need it, but it’s been a lifesaver on the occasions that I do.
  8. Sunburn Relief – While I use sunscreen religiously, the closer you are to the equator the more relentless the sun is. Packing it prevents sourcing it.
  9. First Aid – This is what saved my life with the insect bites. I had an antihistamine and single-use hydrocortisone and triple antibiotic cream.  I used every single packet of both.
  10. Respiratory Requirements – I use an inhaler so I always have that with me but I also add allergy medication, allergy eye drops and an antihistamine.

There they are, our Top 10 Medical Must Haves.  What are yours?  Tell us what you think!