Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Study Abroad in a Carry-On: Health & Medicine

Humanity is not perfect, and every once in a while we experience some sort of malady. Because your health is crucial to your success during your semester abroad, you should pack whatever is necessary to maintain your well-being.

Although this post is extremely important, it’s difficult to write. Each person has their own unique ways for managing their health, so I can’t give a one-size-fits-all type of list. Some people prefer to take medicines for every ailment, while others take a holistic approach. Because of this variation, I will start by offering approaches to begin packing items for your health. After that, I will detail the items on my packing list, giving descriptions as necessary.


The first step to determine what health items to pack is to think about what remedies you use during a calendar year. Do you take any prescription medication? What do you do if you have a headache? Are you allergic to anything? Begin by asking yourself questions like these. When I first started traveling, I rushed out to buy medicine “just in case” I ever got a bad cold. However, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t necessary, because I never take cold medicine at home.

When packing medicines, only take what you need (unless it is vital medication, in which case, you should bring extra). If you have a prescription, talk to your doctor about your options. Medications are available without a prescription in Peru, but you might want to bring enough to last you for your entire trip. However, for non-essential medication, limit what you bring. You don’t need to pack an entire box’s worth of allergy medicine if you only take a few pills per year. It’s easy to be overcome by fear of the unknown, but remember that the locals at your destination are human, too. While the local pharmacy might not stock a specific brand of nasal decongestant, they will most likely sell something similar.

If you need to bring liquid medicine for any reason, rejoice! TSA allows you to bring liquid medicine apart from your liquids bag. All you need to do is tell the TSA agent prior to screening that you have liquid medication in your bag. Read here for more information!

Also, the one medication that I will recommend that you bring is stomach relief. Traveling to a developing country means that you will likely have an upset stomach at some point. Imodium, chewable Pepto, and Tums are good choices.

Don’t forget to include items like contact lenses, an empty water bottle, and a few band-aids.





Medicine Bag:

  • prescription medication
  • travel tube of Advil
  • sleep aid
  • roll of Tums
  • Imodium
  • Pepto
  • nasal decongestant
  • Tiger Balm (great multi-use product. I use it for muscle cramping, as a Vapo-Rub, and to soothe bug bites)
  • Burt’s Bees Res-Q Ointment (for burns)
  • Badger Night-Night Balm (smells like lavender and chamomile)
  • Prid Drawing Salve (for deep pimples, bug bites, and splinters)


  • Platypus 1.0 Liter water bottle (rolls up flat to take up less space)
  • LifeStraw Go water bottle (filters out bacteria from the water supply. I don’t like buying packaged water when I’m out, so this will make the tap water safe to drink)
  • Assorted tea and coffee (a taste of home)


  • NRR 33 earplugs (highest noise-reduction)
  • eyemask
  • Trtl pillow (alternative to the U-Shaped pillow for air travel)
  • camomile tea (above)
  • Badger Night-Night Balm (above)
  • sleep aid (above)

Eye Correction:

  • Glasses
  • Daily contact lenses

That’s pretty much it! I like to keep my medicines in a small, flat bag (I use the smallest bag from this set) that can easily be tucked into my suitcase. Also, as I mentioned a few posts ago, don’t forget to bring paper copies of your prescription medication. You might need it for TSA, customs, or medical purposes.

Only two posts left in this series! Now that I’ve covered WHAT to pack, I will show you HOW to pack both your carry-on and your personal item, and any remaining items. Stay tuned!


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