As bulky as a travel first aid kit is to pack in your already bulging bag, it will hold the cure to your hangovers, medication for that time you end up with food poisoning and will help you fight jet lag and get you straight into your traveling routine.
A travel first aid kit should never be left at home, and if you plan on going on a trip anytime soon, then start stocking up of some of these basics, the must-have things to prepare your very own and personalized backpacking first aid kit.
But what should be in a first aid kit? I share everything that I carry in my own basic first aid kit below. I’ve added in a few items over the years, some I never use but always carry just in case, and some things I use on every trip. I do not consider this a professional first aid kit in any way, but carry these items out of personal preference. Use this first aid kit list as a start for creating your own and use it as a first aid kit contents list.
First Aid Travel Kit 101 – The Basics (and more!)
Here’s what to pack for each situation you may encounter during your travels abroad.
For open wounds and preventing infections
Bandages: Whether this be for the blister you get while hiking, or cutting yourself, I recommend bringing something simple like Band-Aids (or blister Band-Aids!). If you plan on doing more hiking and are the adventurous type pack a more heavy duty bandage, even perhaps surgical tape, scissors, and a tensor bandage.
Alcohol wipes: For keeping any open wounds clean. You can buy individually wrapped alcohol wipes instead of a bottle (which will only add to your liquids!) and use these to clean your wound before tending to it.
Antibacterial cream: Carry this so you can easily reapply and help wounds heal faster.
Types of medication to consider packing
Pain relief: For those headaches after a night of drinking, stomach cramps, and more. Having an option to relieve pain while traveling is always ideal.
Nausea: Plane rides, hangovers, bumpy buses. Something to help with unexpected nausea will be a life saver for those odd situations.
Diarrhea: Depending on where you are traveling in the world this may occur more often than you wish. But really no matter where you’re going you should have some for those emergencies. I don’t think you want to be stuck on a bus without something to help…
Upset stomach: When you’re traveling you’ll most likely be trying new foods or food that may not be the healthiest. Having something to combat those moments when you’re feeling uncomfortable will help you focus on the delicious meal you’re eating, or taking in the beautiful views wherever you are.
Fever, cold and sinus relief: In some areas it’s easy to pick up bugs that you may not have at home that will cause fevers, aches and pains, and colds. When I lived in Thailand for three months I got a fever 4 times (one was due to food poisoning) and I get sick maybe once a year back home in Canada. I was more than pleased with myself for packing medication that would help bring down my fever without me venturing out into the heat and trying to find medication to help that was labeled in Thai.
Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that helps with sleep. Because it’s natural it’s not heavy duty and can help you fall asleep more naturally when dealing with jet lag. Pop one of these a night before you go to sleep and you’ll be back into a regular sleeping schedule in no time.
Don’t forget whatever medication you might use on a daily basis! For me that’s for allergies and birth control. I’ve been told that buying some of these overseas can be cheaper, like in SE Asia, but having tried allergy medication that I found in Thailand I much prefer bringing something from home that I know will work and is strong enough for me.
For the Ladies
Periods: I always pack my Diva Cup and highly recommend it for frequent travelers and for those who don’t travel. It’s perfect to have in Asia where tampons are either very hard to find or don’t exist.
Yeast Infections: Especially for places where you are going to be wearing a bathing suit a lot, medication to treat a yeast infection can come in handy. At resorts prices for medicine are often jacked up, and some countries it may be difficult to find. Again, I just think it’s easier to be prepared before you leave.
Be safe. Be smart. No matter how drunk you are, please use protection. They’re typically easy to find in most places, but I always recommend to carry one on you too.
Medication Prescribed For Travel
Again, this will depend on where you are going in the world, but for many destinations travelers will pick up some prescribed medicine from travel clinics. This can range from pills for malaria, a stronger medication for dealing with diarrhea than what you can buy at the drug store and more. I highly suggest visiting a travel clinic before going on your trip, and do so in advance.
Thermometer: I always carry a thermometer in case of fevers. It’s good to monitor if your temperature is going down, and if it doesn’t then you know that more serious action may be required.
Bug spray: A necessity for certain places in the world where diseases are carried by mosquitoes. In SE Asia you can find lots of places selling small bottles that can fit in a pocket or bag. You want to have a minimum of 20% deet in your spray to help protect you.
Antihistamine: For those times that you do get bit, and don’t want to scratch yourself constantly. Regardless of how much spray you use, I promise you will get bit.
Tweezers: Often overlooked and forgot about, tweezers are great for removing splinters and any debris stuck in a wound before cleaning it.
Rember to keep all of your medication in its original packaging when traveling! It is okay to remove it from the box but make sure there is still some kind of label on the inner packaging or your travel medicine kit will not be so liked by airport security.
This is just advice from my personal experience and is to act a guide for recommendations of things to look into. Please talk to a doctor, nurse, or someone who is qualified and specializes in travel medicine before taking any medication or leaving for your trip.
What’s one thing you don’t leave without when traveling?
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