You pack many things for your family’s summer vacation; shorts, tank tops, flip flops, hats, beach balls and Frisbees. Along with all that summer gear it’s also important to pack items that will care for your family’s health as you travel. Here are five things that should be in your suitcase as you leave for summer vacation.

  1. Neti pot for sinus pain. The neti pot has been used for thousands of years to alleviate nasal and sinus pain. It works especially well to relieve the sinus pain and pressure that some people experience when flying. A saline solution is dissolved in warm water in the neti pot and then poured through the nasal passages to clear them. Directions on how to use the neti pot are included in the packaging. You can purchase a Neti pot and the saline wash at any pharmacy or big box store. They are easy to pack and will take up little space in your carry on or checked bag.

  3. Nasal spray for blocked noses. Congestion and blocked noses can ruin a great vacation. Nasal spray can quickly clear congestion in the nasal passages and sinuses. What you may not know is that decongestant nasal sprays can also be used to prevent ear pressure, fullness or sinus pain when flying. The spray equalizes the pressure of the ears with the pressure of the airplane cabin. It’s interesting to know that a tiny bottle carrying approximately one ounce of nasal spray can hold such powerful solutions for congestion and sinus problems.

  5. Cough medicine. An irritating or wracking cough can easily prevent you or a loved one from fully participating in vacation activities. Cough medicine can help to suppress a cough caused by allergies or a cold. Cough suppressants help to block the cough reflex and expectorants loosen up mucus in the airways. It is not recommended that you use cough medicine with a child younger than the age of 6. If a cough lasts longer than a week, you should consult a physician.

  7. Antihistamines or allergy medication. These medications address runny, itchy noses and eyes, and itchy mouth and swelling in the nose and eyes. Antihistamines can treat the symptoms of allergies whether they are caused by pollen, dust, food or other allergens. Antihistamines come in tablet, capsule, and liquid form and are also available as nasal sprays and eye drops.

    If you have a history of allergies, check with your ear, nose and throat doctor to see if you should take an over-the-counter antihistamine with you, or if you need prescription medication. Be aware that antihistamines make some people drowsy or may cause dry mouth or dizziness. If you have experienced these side effects with antihistamines do not take them if you will be driving.


  9. Sun block. Perhaps the most important thing that you can take with you on vacation is sun block. Preventing sunburn is essential to enjoying vacation and preventing skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) makes the following recommendations regarding sun block:
    • Use a water resistant sun block (sunscreen) with an SPF 30 or higher. Look for one that states that it offers protection from UVA and UVB rays.
    • Apply sunscreen before you go outdoors. Applying sunscreen once you are at the beach will not offer you maximum protection. The skin needs 15 minutes to absorb the sunscreen.
    • Don’t be shy using sunscreen. Pour sunscreen into the palm of your hand until it reaches the size of a half dollar. You need to use at least one ounce of sunscreen for adequate protection.
    • Cover all bare skin. As you apply sunscreen don’t forget the tops of your feet and legs, your ears, your back, the back of your neck, and your scalp. If you are bald or have thin hair it is best to wear a hat to protect your scalp. Protect your lips as well with lip balm that is a minimum of SPF 15.
    • Continue to apply sunscreen throughout the day. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if you are jumping in and out of the water or sweating. According to the AAD, most people who get sunburned don’t use enough sunscreen or didn’t reapply it throughout the day.

Packing these five items can help you to address the small annoyances that can easily hamper vacation fun. You will be prepared to protect the health of your family and the vacation that you have waited so long to enjoy.