Should You Pack Antihistamine as Travel Medicine? Considerations and Advice

Should You Pack Antihistamine as Travel Medicine? Considerations and Advice

A well-planned trip is the key to a memorable adventure. Beyond booking flights and packing your bags, being prepared with essential travel medications is paramount. One vital component of a travel medical kit is antihistamines. These medications are indispensable for managing allergic reactions, which can be triggered by various environmental factors encountered during travel. From pollen and dust mites to unexpected food allergens, antihistamines provide quick and effective relief, helping to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. With so many options to choose from, understanding the different types of antihistamines can help you decide which ones to bring on your trip.

Understanding Antihistamines

Antihistamines are medications that counteract the effects of histamine, a chemical released during allergic reactions. Histamine is normally released when the body perceives threats, such as infections, as part of the immune response. However, during an allergic reaction, the body identifies harmless substances, such as pollen and dust, as threats and releases histamine. This triggers allergy symptoms such as itchiness, watery eyes, a runny or blocked nose, sneezing, swelling, and rashes. Antihistamines block the histamine receptors, preventing allergy symptoms or reducing their severity.

There are two main types of antihistamines:

  • H-1 blockers: These are primarily used for treating allergy symptoms.
  • H-2 blockers: These are used to treat gastrointestinal conditions like acid reflux, ulcers, gastritis, and vomiting.

The naming system (H-1 and H-2) refers to the specific histamine receptors the antihistamine blocks.

Within H-1 blockers, there are two further classifications:

  • First-generation antihistamines: These medications cause drowsiness because they cross the blood-brain barrier and interact with areas of the brain.
  • Second-generation antihistamines: These medications are less likely to cause drowsiness because they do not cross the blood-brain barrier.

Antihistamines come in many different forms, including tablets, capsules, oral solutions, nasal sprays, and eye drops.

Common Allergies and Travel Concerns

Hitting the road can be exciting, but new environments can expose travelers to allergens they might not encounter at home. Travelers may react more strongly to allergy triggers because their immune systems are not accustomed to them. Some common allergies travelers might face include:

  • Environmental allergies: Allergens such as pollen, mold, dust mites, and animal dander can cause allergic reactions.
  • Food allergies: Traveling often means trying new and delicious foods. However, unfamiliar ingredients and cross-contamination during food preparation can trigger allergies.
  • Insect allergies: Travelers with insect allergies need to be cautious when traveling to areas with more insects, such as bees, wasps, and mosquitoes.
  • Chemical allergies: Exposure to different cleaning agents in accommodations or public places can also trigger allergies.

Preparation is the best defense to avoid unexpected allergy reactions. Before a trip, travelers should identify their allergy triggers and reaction severity, carry medical documentation, and pack enough medications. Being adequately prepared minimises allergy risks and ensures an enjoyable travel experience.

Popular Antihistamines for Travel

When travel allergies strike, antihistamines are a lifesaver. But with so many options on the shelf, choosing the right one can be confusing. Here's a quick breakdown of some popular antihistamines for travel:


Product Classification


Onset and Duration of Action

Cetirizine (Zyrtec, Zyrtec-R)

Pharmacy-Only: Zyrtec

General Sales List: Zyrtec-R

Oral syrup and tablets 

Works within 60 minutes for 24 hours



Oral tablets 

Works within 30 minutes for 12 hours



Oral syrup 

Works within 30-60 minutes for 4-8 hours



Oral tablets and syrup 

Works within 30 minutes for 4-6 hours

*Take Zyrtec-D only if you have a runny or blocked nose.

Choosing the Right Antihistamine

Travellers should consider these factors when choosing which antihistamine to bring on their travels:

Severity of allergies

Individuals with mild allergies may find relief with over-the-counter antihistamines, while those with severe allergies may require prescription-strength medications. The potency of the antihistamine should match the severity of the allergic reactions experienced.

Duration of trip

Long travel journey increases the risk of allergy due to recirculated air in confined air-conditioned spaces and dry air in the plane. For shorter travel journeys, fast-acting first-generation antihistamines provide immediate relief. For longer journeys, second-generation antihistamines with a longer duration of action offer sustained relief with less frequent dosing.

Potential side effects

Antihistamines can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and dizziness. Travellers should consider the potential side effects and their impact on their ability to function, especially if driving or operating machinery.

For those wondering if they should take first-generation or second-generation antihistamines, the following table compares the drowsy and non-drowsy formulations:

First-generation antihistamines


Second-generation antihistamines



Causes drowsiness and may impair cognitive function and reaction time.

Less likely to cause drowsiness, hence they are ideal for daytime use.

Side Effects

Might cause headaches, dry mouth, dizziness, blurred vision and low blood pressure.

Might cause headaches, cough, sore throat, abdominal pain and vomiting.

Interaction with other drugs

Interact with other medications more frequently.

Generally fewer interactions with other medications.

Travelling Safely with Medications

A smooth journey requires planning, and that includes medications. Here’s how to travel safely with medications:

Pack Enough Medication

Running out of medication on vacation can be stressful, hence it is important to pack enough medications and have some extras. Travellers should pack over-the-counter medications like non-drowsy antihistamines for unexpected allergies, pain relievers for headaches or minor aches, and charcoal for upset stomachs. For travellers with chronic illnesses or severe allergies, it is important to create a list of frequently taken medications, indicating the dosage and frequency, in case of emergencies.

Alternatives and Complementary Measures

While medications are essential, sometimes natural or complementary approaches can offer additional support:

  • Herbal supplements: Herbal supplements such as turmeric and ginger help alleviate allergy symptoms as they possess anti-inflammatory effects and support the overall immune system function and gut health.
  • Nasal sprays: Nasal sprays can help alleviate symptoms of allergic rhinitis, sinus congestion, or nasal dryness during travel, especially for those sensitive to environmental allergens or prone to sinus issues while flying.
  • Eye drops: Eye drops can relieve dry, itchy, or irritated eyes caused by allergies. For example, Naphcon A Eye Drops can help soothe allergy-related eye symptoms such as itching and redness.

Expert Advice on Antihistamine Usage

When using antihistamines during travel, it’s essential to follow expert recommendations to ensure safety and effectiveness. 

Dosage for different age groups 

It is important to follow the specific dosage instructions provided on the medication packaging or by a healthcare provider. Here are the dosages for some of the common antihistamines

Dexchlorpheniramine (first-generation antihistamine):

Age Group

Recommended Dosage

Adults and children above 12 years old

2mg 4-6 hourly

Children 6-12 years old

1 mg 4-6 hourly

Children 2-5 years old

0.5 mg 4-6 hourly

Zyrtec (second-generation antihistamine):

Age Group

Recommended Dosage

Adults and children above 12 years old

10mg once daily

Children 6-12 years old

5mg twice daily

Children 2-5 years old

2.5mg twice daily

Precautions for certain individuals 

  • Individuals taking other medications: Antihistamines can interact with other medications, such as sedatives and muscle relaxants. It is crucial to consult a healthcare provider to avoid adverse interactions.
  • Individuals with medical conditions: People with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and glaucoma should be cautious with antihistamines as they might exacerbate these conditions. Second-generation antihistamines are preferred as they have fewer side effects.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women: Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their doctors before using any antihistamines.

Trusted Online Pharmacy for Medication Purchase

Planning a trip is exciting, but allergies can wreck your itinerary.  Here's where Glovida-Rx steps in as your trusted online pharmacy partner, offering a convenient and reliable way to manage allergies and stay healthy on your adventures.

Glovida-Rx boasts a comprehensive range of antihistamines and related products to combat allergy symptoms and ensure a smooth journey. Whether you experience mild sniffles or more intense seasonal allergies, we have options to keep you comfortable and focused on exploring new destinations.

Zyrtec Cetirizine 1mg/ml Solution 75ml and Zyrtec Cetirizine 10mg Tablets 10's

Zyrtec Cetirizine is a pharmacy-only second-generation antihistamine that provides 24-hour relief from allergy symptoms with minimal drowsiness. Zyrtec Cetirizine is available in both mini-size tablets and oral solutions. 

Zyrtec-R Tablets 10mg 10's and Zyrtec-R Oral Solution Banana Flavour Drops 75ml

Zyrtec-R is sold over the counter and provides quick and 24-hour relief from cold and allergy symptoms. Zyrtec-R is available in both mini-size tablets and oral solutions. 

Zyrtec-D 120mg/5mg Tablets 10's

Zyrtec-D is a pharmacy-only second-generation antihistamine that combines cetirizine with a decongestant to provide added relief from nasal congestion. 

Dexchlorpheniramine 2mg/5ml Syrup 100ml

Dexchlorpheniramine is a pharmacy-only first-generation antihistamine that provides relief for allergy symptoms but may cause drowsiness. 

Chlorpheniramine 4mg Tablets 30's

Chlorpheniramine is a pharmacy-only first-generation antihistamine that provides relief for allergy symptoms but may cause drowsiness. 

Cough-en Linctus 90ml

Cough-en Linctus is an antihistamine that helps relieve dry cough, stuffy nose and itchy and watery eyes.

Naphcon A Eye Drop 15ml

Naphcon-A Eye Drop combines antihistamines with vasoconstrictors to relieve itchy and red eyes. 

Beyond Antihistamines

In addition to antihistamines, Glovida-Rx offers a variety of travel-friendly products to address common concerns:

  • Leftose tablets, syrup and lozenges: Formulated with lysozyme, Leftose relieves sore throat and dissolves phlegm without causing drowsiness. 
  • Charcoal tablets: Charcoal tablets are natural remedies for diarrhoea and food poisoning as they detoxify and alleviate bloating.
  • Nurofen Tablets: Nurofen tablets help relieve headaches, minor pains and symptoms of inflammation. 


In conclusion, antihistamines are an essential part of the travel medical kit, ensuring that travellers are equipped to handle allergic reactions that can arise from exposure to new environments, unfamiliar foods, and various allergens. These medications provide quick and effective relief from symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and nasal congestion, contributing to a more comfortable and worry-free travel experience.

Glovida-Rx is a trusted online pharmacy that provides a comprehensive selection of high-quality travel medications to meet your needs. For more personalised advice on medication usage during travels, consult healthcare professionals. Don’t hesitate to contact our friendly Pharmacists at Glovida-Rx for recommendations on suitable antihistamines to bring on your trip. You can reach us via WhatsApp at +65 8101 5555 for a free Pharmacist consultation!


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