I have recently come across a list that I thought would be a great idea to post and share with you here on Evolving Wellness.

The Harvard Medical School came out with a “10-Minute Consult: Healthy Travel“, which includes a list entitled “10 Health Items to Take With You on Vacation”. This list provides the information you need for a safe and healthy trip.

At first glance I thought – wow, what a great idea and probably very helpful as our summer and vacation season is upon us.

But after thoroughly reading the list, I shook my head as it became blatantly obvious that the pharmaceutical industry has a foothold in pretty much every aspect of our lives, including our vacation time.

So in this article, I will share with you the list, with some explanations of each so called “health item”. But beyond that, I want to share with you a new way of seeing this list and the world around you which is still so intent on treatment, instead of prevention.

10 Health Items to Take With You on Vacation

1. Your prescription medications. Take at least a week’s supply in your carry-on (in case your luggage is lost). Anything beyond a week’s supply can be packed in your checked luggage.

At first glance this item sounds like very sound advice, no? Well I do not disagree for the most part. If you are currently on medication, getting off of them on your vacation would not be the brightest idea. However, I kind of find it comical that the first item listed is prescription meds. This drives the point home that our society really lives off of treatment instead of prevention.

So perhaps you have no choice, and must take your meds on your 2008 summer holidays. But how about making this summer a turn around time where your health is concerned and perhaps making a goal to minimize if not avoid all together many of the drugs you are on, by sleeping right, exercising and eating natural, wholesome foods, while avoiding toxins like fast food and alcohol. This way, by the 2009 summer holidays you can pack lighter where your prescription medication is concerned.

2. Other prescription medications. Depending on your destination and personal medical history, consider asking your doctor about taking along antimalarial medications and an antibiotic for self-treatment of moderate to severe diarrhea.

More drugs…what a coincidence. While it is wise to prepare for new areas where you may be exposed to new micro-organisms and thus new diseases, you really have to do your research first.

Drugs like the antimalarial tablets, come with many very unpleasant side effects and risks. So before you agree to take anything, find out if the benefits outweigh the risks for you.

3. Gastrointestinal medications, such as antidiarrheal medication (for example, bismuth subsalicylate or loperamide), a mild laxative, and an antacid.

Point number 3 and still more drugs.

Unfortunately due to mass conditioning, many people associate tropical vacations with all sorts of food poisonings and diarrhea problems. Granted some people have more sensitive digestive systems than others, but this can easily be fixed by watching and limiting what you eat, not settling for the quick fix of medications.

Bismuth Subsalicylate is branded as the famous “Pepto-Bismol”, Loperamide is the famous “Imodium” and antacids come in various forms and from various companies like “Tums”.

The reason most people need these is for one main reason and that is: overeating and overdrinking. Many people feel that vacation time is time to let loose and enjoy all the food and drinks one can take. Nowhere is this more amplified than on all-inclusive vacations. So naturally, your digestive system is going to give you problems.

But isn’t vacation time supposed to be to relax and unwind – so why the heck are we unwinding our minds, while stressing our bodies????

One of the biggest, society-conditioned ideas that we have to overcome where our health is concerned is what we consider “treats”. As many of us in our society have it really backwards when we think a new alcoholic drink, extra pastries or greasy food is a treat. This couldn’t be further from the truth where your body is concerned.

Avoid the products that harm your body and you will not have to deal with worrying about packing items from point #3.

4. Allergy medications, such as antihistamine and 1% hydrocortisone cream for mild allergic reactions. If you or a traveling companion has a history of severe allergic reaction, bring an epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen).

Okay, okay so no surprise point # 4 is also drug related. But has anyone ever stopped and thought of “why we have so many allergies out there today”?

What most people cannot correlate is that with all the pollution as well as toxins in our food and personal products, some of our bodies are rebelling. Our bodies are just on overload where chemicals are concerned. Never before in the history of time have there been so many different and deadly allergies than we have today.

So although it may seem impossible to do without your allergy medication at this time, when reflecting on this point, I also urge you to consider a lifestyle and habit change. A lifestyle change, which hopefully cuts out many of the harmful cleaners, personal products and unnecessary chemicals in your life.

One critical aspect of this point however is the EpiPen which is a must to have with you anytime not just on vacations. If you have a life-threatening allergy, be sure to have an EpiPen on you at all times and replace it as soon as one is used. This unfortunately is a matter of life and death.

5. Cold-symptom medications, including a decongestant and throat lozenges.

The only question that I have for this point, is “why”?

If you are eating, sleeping and acting healthy then you should not be getting a cold in the first place. But in the unfortunate case scenario that you should get one, why would anyone in their right mind be putting more stress on their body at a time of already present stress.

We know today for 100% that cold medicines do not cure colds. You cannot cure a virus – your body has to fight it on its own. So save your money and save your liver and instead of running for the artificially colored syrups and lozenges, try proper eating, hydrating and sleeping and watch how good your body is at taking care of itself.

And for heaven’s sake don’t be afraid to suffer a little while your body is healing itself. All the symptoms your body produces are ways, in which it heals itself and deals with the invader. Hence, messing with that can actually prolong the time of your cold.

6. Motion sickness medication.

Okay so more drugs…but this is a tough one. Some people swear that alternative therapies (drug free) have relieved them of their motion sickness while some believe that they cannot survive without the drugs.

If you do have problems with motion sickness, implore common sense methods like not looking down or reading in moving vehicles and avoiding boat rides. By adulthood most people know what sets off their motion sickness. Hence, it would be wise to just avoid those actions instead of relying on drugs to make it through.

As for nausea associated with the typical morning after hangover, the wise thing to do would be to avoid both drugs – the alcohol and the anti-nausea.

7. Pain relievers like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not enjoy pain myself, but in our society I do know that we have become way too soft. Many of us pop pain pills at the slightest onset of pain. What we again forget or do not realize is that our body does not produce pain for no reason. For every pain, your body is trying to tell you something. So would it not make more sense to get to the root of the problem instead of masking the problem?

Aspirin can irritate the stomach, ibuprofen can cause allergies and all including the acetaminophen, have to be detoxified by the liver and in the case of the acetaminophen can cause serious liver disease and damage.

Over drinking, stressing, staying in one position for too long – are all things that are very quick and common for bringing about head and body pain. So before you reach for the pain pills, think about avoiding these actions and getting to the root of the problem, in a safe and healthy way.

8. Antifungal and antibacterial ointments.

In a healthy person, the body’s normal flora (microorganisms) protect the body from outside and inside foreign invaders. When we disrupt this delicate balance, for example by using many cosmetic and other chemical personal products, we leave ourselves open to various infections.

Good, natural tips to avoid fungal or bacterial skin infections is never to walk around public places in bare feet, wash your hands with soap frequently, follow proper body hygiene with non-abrasive products, and potentially bring your own pillow case or bedding if you have really sensitive skin.

In cases of scratches and open wounds, disinfect the wound properly with an alcohol or hydrogen peroxide based solution and in severe cases apply an antibacterial cream or ointment.

9. Lubricating eye drops.

For starters do most of us realize that lubricating eye drops are addictive?

The 3 most common reasons for dry eyes are: 1) fatigue, 2) as a side effect from other medications and 3) dehydration.

Reasons 1 and 3 can easily be taken care of in a natural way by keeping well hydrated, preferably with water and closing eyes, resting and/or sleeping regularly.

In terms of reason 2, that is something to address with the medication that is causing this and trying to get rid of that medication, instead of adding more meds to your body.

And finally, if you have never had problems with dry eyes; do not be tricked into thinking you need to bring these on your vacation or use them period. Remember proper rest, hydration and diet is almost always sufficient for a properly working body.

10. First-aid items like adhesive bandages, gauze, an elastic bandage, antiseptic, tweezers, scissors, cotton-tipped applicators, and a first-aid book.

Whew! One non-drug item…what a list!

Despite the fact that the above items are completely safe for your body and handy to have, most people will not need the whole slew of them on their vacation. Unless you are travelling with kids or going camping, some basic antiseptic wipes and band aids will be more than enough.

Conclusion

Well at this rate, you might as well bring a whole pharmacy with you! So I guess for anyone going on a vacation based on this list, you better dedicate a whole bag just for the stuff listed above. Oh and possibly plan for some liver detox therapy if not a transplant after you come back.

Even though some of these items are critical to people who have become dependent on them, I do not agree that as society we should be calling these “Health Items”. And so I think it would have been much better to call this list “10 Drugs to take with you on your vacation“.

As well, do not fall for the scare tactics, as lists like these tend to seriously play with our emotions. Plan for and expect problems and that is what you will get. Plan for a safe and healthy trip, use your common sense and limit risks and you will have a fun and relaxing vacation!

So as I said, perhaps you cannot do without many of these items for the 2008 summer season, but understanding that there is an alternate and better way that does not include many of these drugs will hopefully motivate you to have a 2009 summer holiday as drug free as possible.