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International Travel Tips

Over-the-Counter Medications and Supplies:

  • Antacid
  • Antibacterial handwash
  • Anti-constipation (Dulcolax)
  • Anti-diarrheal (Imodium AD or Pepto-Bismol)
  • Anti-fungal (Monostat)-female travelers
  • Antihistamine (Benadryl)
  • Anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen)
  • Aspirin or other analgesic (pain-killer)
  • Bandages and antibiotic ointment
  • Cold tablets
  • Decongestant (Sudafed)
  • Hydrocortisone cream 0.5% t0 1%
  • Thermometer

Prescription Medications:

  • Sufficient supply of all your usual medications for a week beyond the duration of your trip, including antibiotics, oral contraceptives, etc. (leave a list of medications taken on your trip at home, preferably on an Internet-accessible computer)

Medical Alert Bracelet or Wallet Card:

  • For allergies, or a serious health condition

Other Considerations:

  • Waterproof Sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher
  • Insect repellant with 20% DEET
  • Extra pair of glasses or contact lenses

Special Medical Supplies:

  • Syringes for diabetics
  • Epinephrine (EpiPen) for serious allergy problems
  • Syrup of Ipecac if traveling with children (induce vomiting, if poisoned)


Unsafe Beverages:

  • Water or ice from hotel sinks, restaurants, and public restrooms
  • Unprocessed or chemically untreated water
  • Beverages from glasses with moisture on them
  • Carbonated drinks that are served with ice
  • Bottled water without a manufacturer’s seal
  • Raw milk

Do not use tap water to brush your teeth!

Safe Beverages:

  • Boiled or otherwise purified water
  • Internationally known brands of bottled water or carbonated drinks (without ice)


Unsafe Foods:

  • Foods that are not fully cooked
  • Foods prepared far in advance of eating
  • Foods made with eggs, mayonnaise, chicken, creams, or custards
  • Raw or partially cooked meats, fish, or shellfish
  • Foods served on dinnerware that is wet from washing
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables with broken skins or that you cannot peel yourself
  • Foods purchased from street vendors

Safe Foods:

  • Thoroughly cooked foods that are served hot
  • Fresh fruits or vegetables with intact skins
  • Foods that are packaged or canned
  • Rice, beans, or grains that are freshly cooked
  • Bread and other baked goods 

Getting Around Safely

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of travelers to developing countries. Travelers involved in these accidents are also at risk for contracting serious illnesses through foreign medical system blood transfusions and injections (AIDS, hepatitis B/C).

  • Avoid overcrowded public vehicles.
  • Do not drive after dark (especially in rural areas).
  • Do not drive motorcycles (14 times more risky per mile traveled).
  • Wear a seatbelt.

Fresh Water

Slow-moving fresh water rivers, lakes, and streams in many developing countries should be enjoyed from a safe distance. It is common for these waters to be infested with parasites that are capable of penetrating the unbroken skin and causing serious illness.

If contact is unavoidable, towel dry vigorously  to reduce the risk of a parasite entering the skin, especially the feet.

High Altitude

Altitude sickness can have serious consequences and can even be fatal.

  • Make your ascent gradually, allowing time for adaptation on the way up.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid overexertion (out of proportion to your physical condition and fitness level).
  • Avoid sedatives, aspirin, codeine, and alcohol.
  • Consider using acetazolamide (Diamox) preventively.