Ok, I get it. I’m rather (extremely) talky. I started this out intended to make a “pocket” piece for Kristen to post over at Walt Disney World for Grownups, with a 300-500 word target. I was supposed to give a few hints on making coming down with something while on vacation suck less.

She took great liberties (with my blessing, of course!) with my full text to tailor it to her readers. My full text, with reasoning, is behind the jump.

Note: I may be a trained medical professional, but I am not YOUR medical professional, nor do I have any training in medication prescribing. All recommendations listed here are what I do for me and my family. You should check with your pharmacist or family doctor for medical advice and recommendations.

If you want a simple one-hit little kit bag, the one at Chinook Medical as a handful of doses of several of the OTC meds I talk about. It runs about $13.00 and comes in a waterproof pouch by aLOKSAK. In fact, I put my personal meds in one of these pouches before I ever saw the one by Chinook Medical.You never know when you’re going to come down with a cold, even on vacation. If you’re at Disney and you come down with something, it can really mess with the quality of your vacation, but there are some things that you can plan for ahead of time in order to make the most of it.

First, I always recommend getting the annual flu shot. They are covered my many health plans, and even if they aren’t covered, the shot only coasts about $25 per person. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you are unsure if the vaccine is useful, have a look at this video at Khan Academy. And no, there is nothing normally toxic in the vaccine, though some people may not be able to take it for various health reasons. If you have other objections to getting the flu shot, read this, this or this.

If you should come down with something while on vacation, there are some supplies that you might want to have on hand. I like to have a handful of disposable thermometers on hand to monitor fevers, should they crop up. With a cold, the only thing that you can really do is to treat the symptoms and try to stay comfortable. This is where a combo pack of NyQuil/DayQuil can make things bearable. Keep some extra acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) on hand to keep the fever, aches, and pains away. Just keep in mind that overdosing on Tylenol or Advil can be very dangerous, so you might want to keep a notebook or notepad to track of when you dose up. Alternating between the two kinds of drugs can help spread the effects out better as well as minimizing the risk of OD.

For sore throats that come with colds and “flu” there’s always cough drops in a bunch of flavors. The ones with menthol will help numb the soreness, while ones with pectin will help keep things moisturized. Personally, I like to have both kinds available.

In the case of minor stomach upset or indigestion, there are two stand-by products in my personal arsenal: TUMS and Pepto Bismol chewables. TUMS (calcium carbonate) antacid is mostly used to counteract acid indigestion and heartburn, and can cause you to burp shortly after taking it, and I’ve found that drinking a glass of water after chewing a couple of TUMS makes me more comfortable. Pepto Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) also works well against heartburn, upset stomach, and related nausea, but it is also a treatment for diarrhea. Pepto can interact with antibiotics and other drugs, and should not be taken by people who have bleeding disorders or sensitivity to aspirin.

Sometimes, though, something happens a little “further South” and you need something so that you can spend the day somewhere other than the bathroom. In those cases, I highly recommend having some Imodium (loperamide) on hand. The name brand is on the slightly more expensive side, so you can save a few bucks by picking up “loperamide” pills or capsules. The ingredient is the same. Of course, if the mail isn’t delivering, though, you want to have a few doses of Colace (docusate , either with or without senna/sennosides) available to make you more comfortable.

Of course, there’s always the possibility of stomach upset and nausea, too. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a681004.html (as opposed to peppermint “flavor”) candies are a mild and natural way to stave off a case of upset tummy. If you want something stronger (and possibly faster), Emetrol is effective for nausea and vomiting, but is inconvenient since it only comes in liquid form. In a pinch, Dramamine II/Dramamine Less Drowsy (meclizine) and Benadryl (diphenhydramine) are extremely useful against motion sickness and nausea. However, both of these pills can cause drowsiness, so be aware of that. Also, Benadryl can serve double- or triple-duty by being a sleeping aid, an allergy pill, and a nausea pill. Benadryl is available in both 25 mg and 50 mg strengths, and is available in pills, liquid capsules, liquid, single-dose, and melt-away tablets.

As with any medication, make sure to read the directions before taking anything I recommend here. Overdosing on some of the stuff I mentioned above can be life threatening (e.g. Tylenol overdose destroys your liver, while Advil can damage the kidneys, stomach, and intestines, and can cause internal bleeding), but everything is safe as long as you stay with the recommended dosage. If you are unsure about anything, don’t hesitate to call on your doctor or pharmacist… They are specially trained and want to help people get and stay well, as well as prevent someone causing themselves harm by accident.

Nobody wants to be sick while on vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth, but sometimes things happen. In this day and age, with the medications that we have available, you can even travel with a small pharmacy and not be bothered by TSA by choosing pills and capsules over liquids. Liquids are also messier to deal with and harder to keep an accurate dose.

Some medications are available at resort gift shops, but they are at more expensive for fewer doses, so it can pay to bring your own.

With a little planning ahead, you can still enjoy your vacation, even if it’s not as great as you would want.