While the majority of my posts discuss real food, I believe that nutritional supplements do have their time and place — especially when we are not able to consume healthy foods that we would usually eat while at home in environments in which we can have more control.

I travel a lot for pleasure and sometimes for work, and when I do, these are my top 5 travel supplements that can help to support my health when my eating habits may deviate from the norm.


Depending on which part of the world you are traveling to, probiotic supplements should be essential carry-on items. For trips to places where you’d probably not drink the tap water, I’d encourage a good higher-potency shelf-stable probiotic. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are critical to gut health and can be found in fermented foods, while also playing a role in immune health. 

Even if you’re drinking clean water, on occasion we all experience gas, bloating, or just an unexplainable upset tummy. For me, when one of these situations occurs, probiotics can help me feel like myself much more quickly than not taking anything.

Activated Charcoal

One of the actives in water filters which helps to filter out potentially dangerous substances you don’t want to drink is activated charcoal. It also can be found in a capsule supplement form taken to help absorb and bind unwanted toxins in the GI tract. In the event I’ve suspected I may have eaten some bad food while traveling that could potentially make me sick, I take a few pills after eating.

I travel globally and like to enjoy local cuisines, including street food. Activated charcoal is an insurance policy for me in addition to probiotics; I will not leave home without this on international trips.

Milk Thistle

This natural plant has been used for years as an herbal remedy to protect the liver and improve liver function. I do my best to pack milk thistle supplements when traveling to countries or cities with known pollution issues. The main constituent of the plant is silymarin which has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Protect your liver and help to support natural detoxification processes in the body when it may be overburdened.

Umcka ColdCare

I’ve recommended this supplement before in previous posts (ingredient is pelargonium sidoides), so I’ll keep it brief. Basically, I pack this more as a preventative measure, meaning I only use it if I begin to come down with a cold. It is effective if the presenting symptoms are common cold related and this South African root will help you to recover more quickly — no one wants to suffer from a cold while traveling.

Digestive Enzymes

While on vacation, I do like to partake in foods and taste local dishes that may contain ingredients I would probably not eat on a regular basis, such as gluten and dairy. I’m all about the 80-20 rule, so I never claim to be 100% gluten or dairy-free, however in my everyday life when in control and cooking at home it’s not common for me to eat these foods. While traveling however, I do like to be a little lax and try new foods, so taking digestive enzymes before a gluten and/or dairy-containing meal helps to take the burden off my digestive organs and allows me to enjoy the meal without any discomfort or symptoms afterwards.

Do you also travel with supplements and if so, which ones?

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Please note:

I am a nutrition educator/consultant and not a physician.  As such, I do not diagnose or treat disease, rather I support lifestyle balance and health with my work.

Please understand that any information provided on the relationship between nutrition and health is not meant to replace competent medical treatment for any health problem or condition.


Mike is a holistic nutritionist that helps people feel more optimistic about their health and wellness through changes in diet and lifestyle shifts.

He has authored posts and articles featured on MarthaStewart.com, today.com, and iVillage.com.