how to stay healthy while traveling abroad

How to Stay Healthy While Traveling Abroad

Health essentials to pack for an international family trip.

As my family prepares for an epic adventure throughout Central America later this year, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about packing. Particularly, as we’ll be on the move quite a bit packing light is going to be super important.

However, the last thing I want is to be stuck without something essential, especially is one of us gets sick or injured. Because this is the first time my family will be traveling to Central America, I thought it best to consult the experts on exactly what to pack to ensure my family will stay healthy while traveling abroad – without going overboard.

The awesome staff at Global Travel Health in Denver was extremely patient with me as I arrived with my family and a list of questions a mile long. After getting all my questions answered, combining their suggested medical packing list with my standing family travel packing list, I determined there are really only a few absolutely necessary things for me to bring along.

Nine health essentials to be exact.

In Central America, as is true pretty much anywhere in the world, medicine and other emergency health supplies are readily available for purchase. In most cases, medicine can also be purchased extremely inexpensively in foreign countries, where pharmacies and doctors will be more likely to keep an inventory of location specific medicine on hand (for example to treat a specific, local strain of Malaria.)

So I decided to carry only the essentials in order to stay healthy while traveling abroad. Here are the only 9 things you need to pack for your next family adventure abroad!

stay healthy while traveling abroad


I can’t remember a trip where someone in the family hasn’t needed a Band-Aid here and there. I pack a range of shapes and sizes, and they always come in handy. Buy the kind with antibiotic ointment built right in so you don’t have to pack that separately.

Of course you can also easily buy these most places, but it’s a good idea to have Band-Aids on hand so you don’t have to go running. They don’t take up much space.


Over the years I’ve found that a small tube of Aquaphor comes in very handy while traveling. Use it on dry skin, cuts, scratches, rashes and as moisturizer for lips, hand and face.

Allergy Medicine

Sadly, like so many families these days, we have a peanut allergy to deal with in our family. I recently discovered super handy single serve pods of liquid Benadryl. Throw a few pods in each bag so you’ll never be caught without in case of an emergency. Bonus: The Benedryl will come in handy if you’re having a hard time getting kids to adjust to time change. Give them a dose at bedtime to help them fall asleep and get back on track as quickly as possible.

I also, of course, travel with a few Epi-pens and the doctor’s prescription in case a refill is needed.

Dramamine and Pain Reliever

My kids get sea and car sick, so Kids Dramamine is a travel must. I also travel with 200mg ibuprofen tablets. One pill is the same dose as one dose of children’s liquid pain reliever. Now that my kids can swallow pills traveling with pain reliever the whole family can take saves space and weight.

Tummy helpers: Cipro and Probiotics

I always fill a prescription of Cipro when leaving the country in case anyone in the family gets a tummy bug. This fast-working antibiotic is the best way to quickly get over upset stomach as a result of some sort of bacteria.

Also, it’s a good idea to start the entire family on probiotics before a big trip, if you’re not on them already, and plan to take them during the trip as well. I like the chewable gummy Probiotics, kids get 1-2 and adults get 2-3 each day! Simply put, probiotics are a great way to maintain a healthy gut and avoid painful discomfort that can occur when you’re drinking and eating in a foreign country.


If you’ve ever flown with a cold, you understand how excruciatingly painful nasal congestion can be. Particularly on large jet airplanes, this congestion can result in extreme pain, plugged up ears lasting several days and even ruptured ear drums. It’s best to pop a tiny red decongestant pill to avoid the pain if possible.

So that’s my super simple list! What’s on your list? How do you help your family stay healthy while traveling abroad?


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