Take with you adequate supplies of your ongoing prescription drugs, plus medicines for minor illnesses, aches and pains. Ask your doctor to prescribe a couple of antibiotics in case you develop a gastrointestinal or upper respiratory tract illness on the road.

In addition to prescription medicines, your medical kit could include:- Band-Aids and other bandages in several sizes.

- Oral thermometer.

- Painkillers such as aspirin, Tylenol, Advil or Motrin.

- Cough suppressants (pills or syrup).

- Decongestants and antihistamines.

- Insect repellent.

- Sunscreen (15 or higher).

- Antibiotic ointment (Neosporin, etc.) for treatment of minor cuts.

- Anti-motility medicines for diarrhea (Pepto-Bismol, Imodium, etc.)

- Hydrocortisone ointment for insect bites.

- Tweezers.

- Lip balm.

- Motion-sickness medication (if you are subject to this).

- Eye drops.

- Antacid medication.

- Soap and toilet paper, in case you are in accommodations that don't provide these.

Help on the road

Health insurance: Often combined with trip cancellation and interruption insurance, this usually includes medical evacuation, which can be extremely expensive. Obtain it before you depart. Major companies are Access America, 1-800-284-8300; Travel Guard, 1-800-826-1300; International S.O.S. Assistance (repatriation), 1-215- 244-1500; and Mutual of Omaha Tele-Trip, 1-800-228-9792.

Health conditions, advice: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1-404-332-4559 (International Travelers Hot Line), or Web site (www.cdc.gov/

travel); U.S. State Department information sheets (issued for every country), 1-202- 647-5225 or Web site (travel.state.gov). International Society of Travel Medicine, (www.istm.org).

Medical assistance abroad: The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) provides a list of English-speaking doctors abroad, 1-716-754-4883. U.S. embassies or consulates in foreign cities provide travelers the names of English-speaking doctors on request.

Medicines abroad: Many medicines that require prescriptions in the United States, like antibiotics, can be purchased over the counter abroad. If you know which ones to buy, you can purchase them at very reasonable cost. But self-medication can be dangerous; antibiotics useful for respiratory problems may not work well for intestinal disorders, for instance. Get competent medical advice before buying or using sophisticated medicines.