A recent “Pluggers” cartoon hit close to home. In fact I wondered if someone had been spying on me. The caption read, “You’re a plugger when it takes you longer to pack your medications than it does to pack your clothes.” It’s not that I take that many medications. In fact, other than vitamins, joint supplements, and calcium, I only take one prescription medication. My problem is that when I’m traveling—like a good Boy Scout—I always want to be prepared.

To that end, I keep a huge gallon-sized bag of every conceivable medication that I or someone I’m traveling with might possibly need for any feasible contingency. If anyone develops a urinary tract infection or bronchitis, I am readily armed with at least two, if not three different antibiotics. I can also cough up cough suppressants by simply digging through my plastic bag. Allergic reaction? Not only do I have two types of antihistamines, I also pack steroids, just in case. Diarrhea or constipation? I can handle either with no sweat. What if someone needs something for pain? I have everything on hand from aspirin, Tylenol, and ibuprofen to muscle relaxants and even a few tablets of controlled substances for dire, kidney-stone passing pain. Speaking of kidney stones, I also carry Flomax, a prostate drug that makes it easier to urinate.

Nobody likes a nasty yeast infection while they’re trying to enjoy a holiday, so I have the nice little pills that clear up those annoying infections in one day. Pinkeye cannot slip through my radar. I also carry eyedrops, nose drops, and possibly ear drops (I need to check on that last one). If a pesky cold rears its ugly head, I have zinc and echinacea, as well as over-the-counter sinus medication. For minor injuries, I pack bandages, and I also have antibiotic and cortisone ointments. The above list does not include the pill boxes with my our daily medications, vitamins, and supplements. The pill boxes I carry in my purse.

Did I miss anything? Before any trip, including just overnight, I run through my pharmacy inventory. Now you may think I’m just a little over the top when it comes to my drug smuggling. But we have been caught too many times in strange places with unexpected ailments. My husband decided to pass kidney stones while visiting his oldest daughter in Ohio several years ago, and I found myself trying to drive him to an unfamiliar hospital in an unfamiliar city in the middle of the night. I came down with a bad case of bronchitis aboard a cruise ship once and had to spend a small fortune to see the ship’s doctor when a simple Z-pack in the luggage would have made that expenditure unnecessary. And over twenty-five years ago my husband and I spent our limited time in Venice searching for a pharmacy where I could get some over-the-counter nose drops for my nasty cold. It turns out they don’t keep routine over-the-counter medications out on the shelves in Italian pharmacies and we had to try to communicate what we wanted to a pharmacist who didn’t speak English. Not that our Italian was any better. We also ended up on our last day in Hawaii many years ago having to take our five-year-old son to a doctor for an ear infection. So call me crazy, but this is not how I want to spend my vacations. I am a very popular traveling companion because people know I most likely will have something in my arsenal for every conceivable emergency.

But this brings me back to the “Pluggers” cartoon. The medications for every possible condition take up so much room in my suitcase, I barely have room for my clothes. But that’s okay. There’s still my husband’s suitcase, and when we got married he vowed to share all he had with me. He just didn’t realize how literally I would hold him to those vows.