What’s worse than getting bitten by a sheepdog? Realizing that you’re out of antiseptic.
Tour guide Ann Lombardi made this unfortunate discovery during a recent bike trip in Bulgaria, when one of the cyclists had a sheep dog run-in. Fortunately, Lombardi recalls, “our local support vehicle driver pulled out a huge bottle of Rakia - a potent Bulgarian hard liquor - and poured it over the leg of the traveler.”
“I don't know how practical it would be to pack spirits in a first-aid kit,” Lombardi adds, “but it sure helped in the dog bite case.”
Indeed, for cuts, scrapes, or bites, Lombardi likes good old iodine – “who cares about the orange blotch it leaves because it really works,” she notes – as well as hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol. Or, if you’re headed someplace outdoorsy, you might prefer packing an extra tube of antibiotic ointment.
And that’s the thing about travel med kits - no one kit suits every trip or traveler. “The specific contents [of your kit] should be tailored based on destination, duration of travel, type of travel, and the traveler’s pre-existing medical conditions,” notes the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), which nonetheless has a recommended list of general travel health kit supplies.
As for those pre-existing conditions, bring slightly more than you need of any prescription medications and keep them all in the original labeled bottles you got from the pharmacy as “officials at ports of entry may require proper identification of medications,” according to the CDC.
Along those lines, carry copies of all your prescriptions as well as “proof of medical insurance and contact information for your doctor back home,” advises AAA public relations director Geoff Sundstrom.
Also bring a list of the generic names for your prescriptions as well as common over-the-counter (OTC) meds. For instance, if you’re scanning the shelves of an overseas pharmacy for anti-diarrhea medicine and choosing between a box of pills called loperamide and another called bismuth subsalicylate, it helps to know that those are active ingredients in Imodium and Pepto Bismal, respectively.
If you’re unfamiliar with the effects of any medicine, remedy, or supplement - including the items that follow - consult your doctor or pharmacist before your trip.