Updated: Jun 2
Delta airlines recently announced that air travel is back up to pre-pandemic levels. As travel continues to heat up over the summer, it's important that you remember to stay healthy (and sane) while traveling. This is by no means an extensive list but I wanted to share some of the items that are almost always on my "pack list" while traveling.
I know what you're thinking. You don't have to be 80 years old or have specific health issues to wear compression socks. I honestly like to use them more as of a preventive measure than anything. I admit I like to take my shoes off during a long flight (Odor Eater powder really works by the way). There's nothing worse than having to try to cram your foot back into your shoe at the end of the flight. Compression socks can help prevent this issue altogether. If you have any form of vascular insufficiency, heart disease, or get swelling in your ankles or feet when you travel, compression socks are a must. They reduce your risk of developing a blood clot during extended periods of sitting so be sure to wear them on long road trips as well.
Hand Sanitizer or Sanitizing Wipes
COVID or No COVID - hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes are always a good idea. There are plenty of other germs lurking on airplane seats, rental car steering wheels, bathrooms, and my least favorite, gas pumps (gross). Yet, another reason to go electric...
Pepto Bismol and Imodium
When nature calls - especially when she calls on speed dial and calls over and over until you answer, Imodium can be good to have on-hand. When traveling out of the country, I like to take a daily dose of Pepto as more of a preventive than anything. It helps with gas, nausea, diarrhea, indigestion & heartburn. These are five issues that individually can put a damper on your vacation or crush your hope of meeting that special someone. GI upset is common while traveling, especially when you're trying new foods or being an adventurous eater. Speaking from experience on a recent trip to Mexico City, Montezuma's revenge is no fun. Do yourself a favor and pack both of these products the next time you travel. (Pro Travel tip: Loperamida is Spanish for Imodium).
Don't get burned! It hurts, it increases your risk of skin cancer, and let's be honest - peeling skin is not a cute look. Grab SPF 15 or higher, and if you're going on a beach vacation, please be sure to use sunscreens that do not damage coral reefs. Limiting your time in the sun is key. Remember that UV rays bounce off of other surfaces and still cause sun damage even if you are in the shade, so be sure to consider clothing than protects you from the sun as well.
Ibuprofen or Tylenol
Traveling can be exhausting and hard on your body. Walking a lot more than usual, a lousy hotel mattress or a flat pillow that doesn't support your neck, traveling is not for the faint of heart. Having these meds on-hand will help with those minor aches and pains. If you have kidney or liver disease, speak to your medical provider first to see if either of these meds are safe for you to take.
Airlines and many businesses are still requiring masks. To be honest, I may even continue to wear a mask on an airplane after mask restrictions are lifted. If anything, I can mouth profanities at the guy behind me kicking my seat without anyone knowing. Also, have you smelled your breath after drinking coffee, eating peanuts and Biscotti cookies? Not cute. In all seriousness, masks work and they can prevent other airborne illnesses like colds and the flu.
Mosquitos are annoying and their bites hurt. Mosquitos also carry diseases like malaria and zika. If you're going to be out in nature or in an area prone to mosquitos and other bugs (i.e. out on Lake Lanier), be sure to carry some travel-size insect repellent. They even make insect repellent wipes these days. And, if you're traveling to a country where malaria is a problem, speak to your medical provider to discuss malaria prophylaxis medications.
Benadryl is great to have stashed away in your travel bag for those instances where you may have an allergic reaction to something you've eaten or come into contact with. You don't want to have to rush out to the local Walgreens at midnight because your boyfriend has an allergy to that new warming lubricant you decided to try out for the first time on vacation. Mood killer!
I am notorious for not sleeping well when I travel. Whether it's the adrenaline rush of visiting a new place, the lackluster hotel pillows or the loud music from the club downstairs that wasn't mentioned in the Airbnb reviews (seriously??), melatonin is a more natural way to help your body get into "relax mode." Here's a little tip - buy the melatonin gummies so not only can you sleep well but you can have a sweet treat before passing out.
You just never know when you're going to get a cut. I always carry several Bandaids in different sizes. And, can we all agree that paper cuts are absolutely the worst?
Speaking of Bandaids, you may need some for those pesky blisters you'll get if you don't wear a comfortable pair of shoes while traveling. When I travel, I typically do 3, 4, or 10x the amount of walking I do during a normal day. My feet just aren't used to it. I feel so old when I say this but I recently picked up some Dr. Scholl's shoe inserts for my sneakers. They were a god-send during my recent trip where I practically walked all over Mexico City.
This is one of my newest obsessions. I love having a sleep mask to keep out the light. And, you don't need to be on vacation to wear one. I wear mine every night and even keep extras in my guest bedroom for when guests visit. Doing as much as you can to get a good night's rest will help ensure that you get the most out of your time away.
This should go without saying but I hear it so often from my patients: "I forgot my medicine at home." Sure, we can call in a prescription for your gout medication to a Publix pharmacy in Willacoochee, Georgia or to a CVS in Palm Springs, but don't be that guy (or girl) and remember to take any medication you may need while away from home. I'm talking to you guys on PrEP as well!
White Noise App for your phone
Ok, so while this isn't a must, it is certainly something to consider. During the start of COVID in 2020, I downloaded and subscribed to the Headspace app. I swear by it - it works very well to help my mind relax, to help me forget about the day and to help me fall into a deep sleep. There are options other than Headspace, like Calm, and there are other free options that are worth checking out. You just never know how loud that Airbnb or hotel room is going to be so this is one way to help tune out all the extra noise.
A good book
Catching up on reading is one of my favorite things about traveling. I don't typically have the time (or make the time?) to read on a daily basis. I realize Delta has some great in-flight entertainment, but skip the movies and opt to read a book instead. There's nothing like the look and feel of a real book; Kindles and iBooks just don't do it for me but do what makes you happy. Reading is good for the mind...and the soul. My summer reading list is equal parts non-fiction, fiction and self-help. It includes:
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari
More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) - Elaine Welteroth
A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara