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Traveler’s Medical Emergency Kit

Going on an adventure? Then don’t leave home without a well-stocked emergency medical kit. If you have food allergies and don’t speak the local language, take along food translation cards that indicate what you cannot eat.

Medical Kit: When I fell into scenic but polluted Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, I was really glad I had packed Ciprofloxacin, one of the few antibiotics to which I am not allergic. My doctor told me to take the pills for the next few days to kill any nasty bacteria thus preventing fever, nausea, diarrhea and all those you-don’t-even-want-to-know-about complications.

Without the medicine in my emergency bag, I would have suffered a major delay in treatment plus wasted precious trip time driving to a big city, finding a doctor, making an appointment and then filling the prescription.

What else should you stash in your medicine kit? Tylenol or aspirin, any allergy medicine, anti-bacterial ointment, bandages and Band-aids, decongestant, medicine to relive diarrhea, rehydration salts, motion-sickness remedy, insect repellant, sun block, something to soothe insect stings and any medications taken on a regular basis.

Women who are prone to urinary infections should pack tablets that can remedy the symptoms. After all, you don’t want to squirm your way through your adventure tour or waste time searching out a capable gynecologist in a foreign land.

If at all possible, take your medicine kit onboard with you. That means being careful to adhere to TSA security regulations. And if your doctor gives you a hard time about having medications on hand for those just-in-case traveling emergencies, get another doctor.

Food Allergy Cards: Select Wisely produces plastic laminated cards that state your food preferences and problems in a variety of languages as well as picture cards that feature images of shellfish, milk or other culinary nemeses with the international “do not” symbol—a red circle with a diagonal line-- drawn through the forbidden items.

Traveling through the countryside in China my daughter and I used Select Wisely cards. We’re both lactose intolerant, so we ordered a card that stated “no milk, cheese or cream,” which is not really a problem in China since few Chinese dishes include these ingredients. The bigger issue was indicating "no meat" for my vegan daughter and we ordered a card for that.

After showing your waiter your food allergy card, you can more easily sample that tucked away restaurant in Bangkok your friend raved about since you can inform the non-English speaking waiter that you’ll become ill from eating shellfish. You no longer have to assume that you can tell that the tasty tagine on the buffet table in Aswan, Egypt, contains no cheese. Just whip out your handy lactose intolerant card printed in Arabic.

And if on a hike through villages in Cambodia’s countryside, you suddenly feel faint, just whip out the Select Wisely card for “take me to the hospital” in Khmer.

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