12. Special things to bring: sunscreen, Imodium, painkillers
In Thailand, Vietnam and most of Southeast Asia, sunscreen is expensive. Everything else is cheap but sunscreen, man, it’s more expensive than it is in the U.S., especially for the type that you’re willing to put on your skin.
That means you should bring more than enough sunscreen (you’ll be sharing with other travelers, of course) than you think you will need, and it will likely have to go into your checked luggage.
In 2016, in Vietnam, I managed to lose my sunscreen down the side of a cliff while hiking with my bag. I then had to buy whitening sunscreen because I couldn’t find any of the normal brands.
While sunscreen is expensive, there are a few other things from the pharmacy that you should make sure to bring so you have them when you need them.
The first is the anti-diarrheal medication Imodium (generic name: loperamide). If you’re lucky like me, and have an iron stomach, you’ll get “sick” just once. I did incredible amounts of street food eating and ocean and reservoir swimming in Thailand and I ate even more questionable food in Vietnam. (I ate lots, I mean lots, of pâté and mayonnaise-based spreads that, in the US, would have been thrown away hours before.)
During my 2015 trip, I only got sick once, in Cambodia. I had to look up the generic name for Imodium and I paid way more than I should have when I did finally find the pharmacist.
In Vietnam, and more importantly, on my plane rides to and from Vietnam, my problem was larger-than-life headaches. Finding ibuprofen, or your painkiller of choice, is not the easiest thing in the world when you’re bouncing between flights.
Headaches were the bigger issue for me because, in Vietnam, I always had Imodium handy and made sure to take some if I even had the inkling that I was getting sick.
You should have both Imodium and your painkiller in your carry-on baggage so you only have to go to the pharmacist when you want to buy drugs that would otherwise require a prescription in the U.S. (such as Valium, generic name diazepam, and Xanax, generic name alprazolam).
Trust me. Imodium is a magical drug and having it in your bag will save you.