It’s spring. There is pollen everywhere and if you are lucky, some sun. You are suffering miserably. You are also looking forward to traveling on your spring or summer vacation. The dilemma of packing for travel. To bring toiletries or not bring toiletries, that is the question? And what it really means to deal with customs and travel with a portable medicine cabinet, because if you have allergies you are probably carrying creams and any other magical thing to ward off the sneeze or itch. But really, you should have they very basics that you need purchased when you get there, and a small first aid kit. Think of it as warding off all evil. It’s not worth being held up in customs over the littlest thing.
The fashion statement of small cosmetics bags should just be for cosmetics, and that’s it. Even these should travel in a clear bag. Even if you are a seasoned traveler, the ports of call can be a challenge with the toiletry and meds dilema. You will be stopped and asked questions, just accept that you will. So make it easier to deal with. If you are on medications, you need these to be clearly labelled and kept with you at all times. You may wish to keep a copy of the full description your pharmacist prints for you. For the most part, prescription meds make it through okay, but packs of allergy meds that can be used to make recreational drugs are very regulated. Don’t bring large blister packs of allergy meds through customs. Packing liquids and lotions still requires that you store them in small, less than 3 oz. bottle and it’s best to just use a clear zip bag. Have these out and ready for declaration. All airports require a clear bag of some kind and people have been forced to repack and use airport provided bags in some cases.
Which comes to the next part. Plan to get to the pharmacy or apothecary upon arrival, and stock up on travel sizes there. The £/€ 20 is worth not being hassled at the airports. I discovered over the years that stuffing little bottle full of products that you will have to have tested by customs officials, and told you cannot take it, and toss is more expensive in the long run. Now this may be difficult if you are going to Asia or a country where you may not speak or read the language printed on containers. Let’s face it, personal grooming products are recognizable for the most part, but it may not be made or have the ingredients you approve of or can tolerate if you have sensitivity issues. If you are the average Joe or Jane, you can get by with the minimal and maybe share with travel companions on shampoos and such. Washing powder for laundry is another issue for sensitive skin and nose people.
Health and Wholefoods Markets are Your Friends
They can be your saviour if they are open when you arrive. One of the first things I did when I hit Glasgow or Dublin again was find the whole food mart. Unscented soaps and laundry detergents and toiletries can be found here, not to mention organic foods and veg you can get up to your room. Many Gluten Free options as well. You will benefit from keeping fresh fruit around if you are in a place for a few days, it helps your immune system and is cheaper than always eating out. Grab a tube of Aloe Gel to help with sunburn and other scrapes. Natural sunscreen can be grabbed. Yes, I got sunburned in both Dublin and Glasgow last year, go figure.
If you know you have severe allergies, skin and pollen related, you will need to plan to bring what you can. However, in many English speaking countries, the U.K. and Ireland, you can find the allergy over the counter meds you are used to in the US and Canada. Keep in mind that there are different flora and fauna in these countries than you are used to. I found that because I was also going between islands, I had to plan to have to dump things for all airports if I had over 3 oz in any container.In the U.K. and Ireland, brands like Zyrtec and Benadryl and other allergy medications are known or have equivalents, so if these work for you you can get them there.
You will always find a Boots, or other apothecary. But if you are into whole foods and the whole body approach, you may want to research this a bit for each large city you may visit. I found this really helpful when I was choosing a place to stay as often I would have to rely on the whole market for meals because kitchens had closed at restaurants early or I needed things with ingredients I could decipher.
And Now for the Creepy Crawlies
March of the caterpillars may make your spring really unpleasant. A particularly pesky crawling teen, the larva of the Processionary Moth, can be seen in lines, end to end roaming London. Eradication crews are on the loose throughout the city, and it is thought that this creature came from Southern Europe to invade the shores. Why the fuss? Because the tiny hairs that are shed by this inching creature can cause severe rashes and bronchial problems in unsuspecting humans.
Midges are the scourge of the Highlands, and yes, right in Glasgow off the Kelvin. If you are near any waterway in the spring and summer months, these flying fiends bite and some people are very allergic to them. You can get repellents, but the clouds of them are so big, you can just find another way around them. Long sleeves are good for the river hiking and running you may do.
Ticks are a danger in the isles and Europe as they are in the US and Canada and some carry Lyme disease. As you would in any wooded area, check your clothing for the tiny, expanding arachnids. Clean wounds well and monitor. Again, when you are at the chemist, you may want to pick up anti itch and antiseptic creme to be on the safe side.
Health Food Stores