Summer Vacation Travel TIps

I start looking forward the summer months in mid-January, but once here, the summer seems to fly by.  The long days are still not quite long enough, “relaxed atmosphere” means I have responsibility for more after-camp games, swim sessions, and far more running either with (literally) or after my kids. 

Of course there is also the summer family vacation, which we all look forward to. Every year we try to do something a bit different and cater to our family’s diverse age groups and interests. A very rigorous hike for one of my daughters, kayaking for another, a beautiful beach for another, Shakespeare outdoors for the adults, some classical music for me and one of the boys, anything involving ships, planes, rockets for the other…The trick is to find somewhere where you can have at least 80% of the above, and go there at a time when camp/work and internships all ended, but of course, before the new school year starts. If this does not sound challenging enough add the demands of my practice, and the fact that “time off” for me is still being on call 24/7 as long as I am in the USA. 

They say that “necessity is the mother of invention” and this is how I got to be a good and flexible traveler. If you are contemplating a vacation this summer I have a couple of items of medical advice.

I am frequently asked what to bring along for travel (especially international), even if it at a resort destination. Medical care, and medication differ widely in both name and composition from country to country, and access to a doctor and pharmacy is many times difficult even from a luxury resort. Therefore, being prepared is well worth it. First pack a sufficient supply of your regular medications (such as for blood pressure, thyroid or migraines), as it is more difficult than you think to find an equivalent in Europe, South America or the islands. Second, I will share with you the contents of my traveling medicine bag.

  1. NSIDS such as Advil/Motrin or Tylenol which work for both fever and minor aches and pains. I have these in both pill and liquid forms.
  2. Benadryl tabs (25mg), as well as Claritin (10mg) because they work in different ways to counteract allergic reactions and can be taken together for a better response.  These too I stock in both pill and liquid forms.
  3. Imodium AD, and Pedialyte powder packets. These items are invaluable for the routine diarrhea that accompanies summer travel and the need for re-hydration and electrolyte replenishment that follows. I also take some over-the-counter(OTC) mild laxatives as the first, little known consequence of dehydration is constipation.
  4. Prescription pink eye drops as well as drops for ear infections. Pool and ocean swimming increases the frequency of eye and ear infections, and they are very annoying!! I also recommend over-the-counter swimmers’ ears drops that actually dry the water in the ears after a day at the beach and in so doing prevent the infections to a large extent. 
  5. Hydrocortizone and antibiotic (Bacitracin) OTC ointments, and many different sizes and shapes of band aids, non-adherent dressing pads, and surgical tape. You have no idea how useful, for many purposes these can be…and how much of a time saver it is to have them with you.
  6.  A sharp pair of nail scissors, a needle nosed tweezers and a medium size ACE bandage. Together with my traveling wine opener (for me, not the “patient”)  these tools have performed miracles in many of my travels.

If I travel abroad I may also take along a Z-pack (and am happy to provide one for you) as it works well for a nasty cold, as well as for a stomach bug which Imodium alone can not control. It is relatively safe as there are few allergic reactions, and the once per day for five days regimen makes it easy to take, even on vacation.

Happy travels!