The Road Warrior's Secret Defense: A Portable Pharmacy

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The Road Warrior's Secret Defense: A Portable Pharmacy
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The Road Warrior's Secret Defense: A Portable Pharmacy

Frequent fliers know there will come a time when a bug takes hold and grounds them.

Ideally they will be home with access to a bed and chicken soup. But what happens when someone is already on the road?

Despite what the airlines say about the air quality on planes, when people are in close quarters, germs fly around and odds are they will get sick, especially those who travel a lot.

Here is my list of lifesavers that I bring when I do business travel -- just in case:

Related: How Business Travel Can Be a Danger to Your Health

Item No. 1: DayQuil and NyQuil pills (generic brands are fine, too)

Quantity: Two sheets with both types of pills 

Why: If I have to travel 10,000 miles for a meeting, I want to be able to attend even if I feel sick. Of course, that's only if it’s a simple cold.

This was a lesson I learned the hard way. I recall a specific instance where I traveled a great distance for a meeting. The day of the meeting I woke up sick as a dog and after taking a megadose of DayQuil, I decided to make the effort and attend the gathering (even though my thinking was impaired). I arrived only to find 11 people present, instead of just one, who all were anticipating a two-hour presentation. Needless to say, I did not do well. The lesson: Know and accept my personal limits.

Item No. 2: Airborne

Quantity: A small container

Why: I don’t know if Airborne is a placebo nor do I care. Whenever I travel more than 5,000 miles, I make sure to take it before going to bed and again in the morning. It's also nice to have something to drink, especially when I'm waking up before room service has begun delivering.

Item No. 3: Pepto-Bismol

Quantity: Four pills

Why: I never know if that airport seafood is going to make me a little green around the gills. So these are terrific if I'm boarding and already feeling a bit fishy.

Fun Fact: I used to carry Tums or Rolaids, but they are slightly heavier. Remember, every fraction of an ounce matters with a carry-on!

Item No. 4: Band-Aids

Quantity: Four strips

Why: Your favorite shoes, the ones you’ve been wearing for the last five years, might decide to all of a sudden give you a blister and you'll still have to walk the length of two more airports. Band-Aids are a requirement for all travelers and they weigh next to nothing! If I know I'm going to have to walk great distances, such as through Dallas airport or Ottawa's, or heaven forbid Heathrow, I keep a little patch of moleskin on hand.

Item No. 5: Sleeping aids

Quantity: Half the number of days you will be away

Why: If I have been on the road for four or five days and REM sleep deprivation has taken its toll, I might pop an over-the-counter sleeping pill. Taking one half of an Excedrin PM will bring me to the current time zone. Don't have one on hand and traveling in a group? Ask! Everyone has a stash.

Item No. 6: Imodium

Quantity: Three to four pills

Why: Like it or not, if I'm traveling to a country with water of questionable quality, these will be worth their weight in gold. I just never know.

Item No. 7: Cough drops

Quantity: A full roll

Why: Despite the weight, these are always handy for a scratchy throat. I normally carry them for the passenger behind or next to me who is hacking their way across the country. I hand them out liberally and always regret not quickly replenishing them.

Related: Travel Hacks: Quiet the In-flight Talker

Item  No. 8: Dramamine

Quantity: One to two pills

Why: If someone, somehow, somewhere convinces me to get on a ferry, puddle jumper or seaplane, I'm always relieve to know that I have a Dramamine in my bag. If you're like me and prone to seasickness, try carrying acupressure-point cuffs for extra relief.

Item No. 9: Surgical face mask

Quantity: One

Why: If I end up being sick on the plane, I don’t want to spread germs to those around me.

If I'm that sick I will normally reschedule my return trip. Most airlines will allow this without penalty because they don’t want an ill passenger on their plane either. And at the end of the day, staying in a hotel room and having room service answering to my needs is not a bad way to go.

Item No. 10: Antibiotics

Quantity: A full cycle

Why: Once while I was trapped in Paris, the smog began irritating my lungs and I was not able to procure any antibiotics. I ended up with walking pneumonia. Frequent-fliers tend to get the same respiratory and sinus infections over and over so having those antibiotics can help prevent a lasting infection.

Item No. 11: Excedrin

Quantity: A dozen pills

Why: This is a miracle drug, making headaches disappear in five minutes flat. Headaches are a standard part of flying due to impact of the changing air pressure. If I carry nothing else, I always have Excedrin.

Item No. 12: Anti-Inflammatory

Quantity: Enough for the flight there and back

Why: I've noticed the the swelling in my joints due to frequent travel has become more obvious. Much of my time in the air is spent immobile, especially if my seatmate is hogging the armrest or the guy in front has reclined all the way back. Though I am able to rise and walk up the aisles during flights, that's not always enough. Now I take one ibuprofen or naproxen prior to takeoff and before landing (if my flight is more than 10 hours). This helps reduce my achy tired feeling when the plane lands.  

Note: Any of these suggestions should be tested prior to a flight. Always make sure that these medications don’t conflict with any current ones and always check with a doctor. 

Related: Capturing a Sliver of Your Business Trip for Yourself

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