Health & Wellness Packing

9 Over-the-Counter Medicines You Should Pack for Every Trip

Whether due to bad luck or unhealthy habits, I’ve gotten sick on the past few trips I’ve been on, which inspired me to find some travel medications to take with me in the future.

In preparing for a longer international trip, I visited a travel clinic and did some research on the CDC’s website. I was happy to find this checklist for a healthy trip and have included some over-the-counter medicine recommendations below.

It’s worth noting that you may also need some prescription medications (and/or vaccines) for things like malaria and altitude sickness, so if you’re traveling for an extended period of time, participating in a physically active trip, or headed to a remote country, make sure to visit a travel clinic.

Note that I didn’t include any first-aid items on this list because there’s an entirely different packing list for that: Download here. 

Over-the-Counter Diarrhea Medicine: Imodium or Pepto-Bismol


Ah, the most common and arguably most uncomfortable sickness to get when you travel. Though it’s most often caused by contaminated food or water, traveler’s diarrhea can happen anywhere—so it’s a good idea to bring an anti-diarrheal medication no matter the destination or type of trip.

Buy: Imodium or Pepto-Bismol

[st_related]Traveler’s Diarrhea: How to Protect Yourself[/st_related] 

Over–the-Counter Antacid: TUMS or Pepcid


The last thing anyone wants to do on vacation is walk around with a stomachache or heartburn, especially with all the new food and drink you might want to try. Carry antacids on your trip and you can overindulge all you want.

Buy: TUMS or Pepcid 

Over-the-Counter Antihistamine: Claritin or Zyrtec


You can never be sure when allergies are going to creep up on you while traveling, especially if you’re headed to another climate. Combat its symptoms, including a stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing, by packing this travel medication.

Buy: Claritin or Zyrtec

Over-the-Counter Motion Sickness Medicine: Bonine or Dramamine

Motion sickness

Nothing can ruin your travels quite like motion sickness on a plane, train, bus, or cruise ship. Instead of confining yourself to a trip of nausea and dizziness, bring medicine to travel like a champ. Benadryl, an antihistamine, can also work for motion sickness, but watch out for drowsiness.

Buy: Bonine or Dramamine

[st_related]Dramamine-N Review: A Must-Have for Nausea-Free Travel[/st_related] 

Over-the-Counter Cough Drops or Suppressant: Ricola or Halls

Cough drops

You’re at an increased risk for getting sick while traveling as your germ exposure skyrockets. Cough drops can bring temporary relief to a sore or ticklish throat and silence your coughs so you don’t annoy fellow travelers.

Buy: Ricola or Halls 

Over–the-Counter Decongestant: Sinex or Sudafed


Nobody likes traveling while congested. Whether it’s a cold or allergies, these over-the-counter medicines can relieve congestion and clear your head. Just make sure you pick a non-drowsy kind if you’re taking this during the day.

Buy: Sinex or Sudafed

[st_related]How Not to Get Sick on a Cruise[/st_related] 

Over–the-Counter Pain and Fever Medicine: Tylenol or Advil

Pain and fever

Instead of lying in bed all day, take pain and fever medicine so you can focus on being a tourist. These over-the-counter medicines can help with common travel ailments such as achy feet or jet lag-induced headaches.

Buy: Tylenol or Advil

[st_related]11 Ways to Get Salvage a Trip If You Get Sick[/st_related] 

Over-the-Counter Mild Laxative: MiraLAX or Dulcolax


All I’ll say is that you won’t regret packing these.

Buy: MiraLAX or Dulcolax 

Over-the-Counter Mild Sedative or Sleep Aid: ZzzQuil or Tylenol PM

Sleep aid

Maybe you’re staying in a noisy place or you’re so jet-lagged you can’t sleep. Either way, these sleep aids will make sure you’re refreshed and ready for a day of travel.

Buy: ZzzQuil or Tylenol PM

[st_related]Sleeping on Planes: Top Tips for Travelers[/st_related]

Pin the Over-the-Counter Medical Travel List:

What to Pack on Your Next Trip

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

More from SmarterTravel:

[amazon_native_ad tracking_id=”smartrav-20″ search=”over the counter medicine”]

Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

Alyssa Lukpat also contributed to this article.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

By Ashley Rossi

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

After interning at SmarterTravel, Ashley joined the team full time in 2015. She's lived on three continents, but still never knows where her next adventure will take her. She's always searching for upcoming destination hotspots, secluded retreats, and hidden gems to share with the world.

Ashley's stories have been featured online on USA Today, Business Insider, TripAdvisor, Huffington Post, Jetsetter, and Yahoo! Travel, as well as other publications.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A reusable filtered water bottle—it saves you money, keeps you hydrated, and eliminates waste—win-win."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "A week in a bamboo beach hut on India's Andaman Islands."

Travel Motto: "Travel light, often, and in good company."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window—best view in the house."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *