TRAVEL TIPS- Download your printable "First Aid Travel Kit."
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN ESSENTIAL BASIC FIRST AID TRAVEL KIT!
Wherever you’re traveling, you need to have a basic first aid kit tucked away in your luggage for
dealing with medical problems. We asked the local pharmacists and medical experts for their advice and here is the list of “Must-Have” essential items for every traveler's first aid kit.
WHY DO I NEED TO TAKE A FIRST AID KIT?
“I have a limited baggage allowance and I don’t want unnecessary things taking up the weight allocation.”
Traveling is tough on the immune system.
Preparing for a trip can be exhausting. You have to deal with allocating tasks that need to be covered while you are away from your job, arranging carers for the house, kids, and pets, and all the decisions that have to go into packing and remembering your passport, visa, and a million other important items. And once you set off on your trip, there’s coping with jet lag, and dealing with different time zones, different sleep patterns, and different food. Added to this are the long unhealthy hours sitting in one place in a plane, train, bus, or car in a confined space with many other people sharing the same air!
Apparently half of all travelers suffer from some kind of injury or illness while traveling.
“But I can always buy some Tylenol or paracetamol when I’m in Europe. I don’t need to take them with me!”
- Think again!
You’ll really regret it when you’re on that train or bus or plane with a splitting headache, or in the middle of the night in your Airbnb with a sore throat, and have no instant access to a pharmacy for pain relief. Or you’ve had a tumble and grazed your knee and have nothing to clean it with and stop the bleeding and chance of infection.
Some of your medications may not be available in other countries.
For example, in New Zealand, we have a product called “Ural ” which is an effervescent powder in small sachets that helps relieve the symptoms of urine infections and works brilliantly well. We discovered to our dismay that it is not available in the USA and the pharmacists we spoke to there couldn’t recommend a similar product as a replacement.
Keep in mind too, that you may have problems communicating what you need in a foreign language, and medications in different countries have different names e.g. Tylenol, a pain reliever, which is a very common brand in the USA, is not commonly known in many places in Europe or Oceania where its equivalent is paracetamol.
WHY MAKE YOUR OWN KIT?
You can, of course, buy a premade, pre-assembled, first aid kit at your local pharmacy. That's quick and convenient, but ensure that you buy a good quality kit. Beware of cheap products like plasters and tape that become unstuck two minutes after you put them on, and kits that have products and extra bandages and bits and pieces that really aren’t necessary and you'll never use.
If you put together your own kit, you will know exactly what’s in it, the quality of the items, and how to use them and you won’t be taking unnecessary items when every ounce of baggage weight is
precious these days. You can customize the kit to suit your own needs depending on where you're traveling and the length of your stay.
There’s no need to go over the top. You just want the essentials to cope with minor problems, or items to get you to the nearest medical center to deal with something more serious. The list is endless and people have different priorities, but here are the essential elements everyone should carry in minimal amounts.
Keep in mind that this travel kit list is for essential “Must-Have” items for travelers for general trips. Adapt the list to suit your own personal needs and circumstances. If you are traveling to a remote location or traveling to do extreme adventure sports, add any extra items you may require. We have included a printable checklist for the Essential Travel First Aid Kit that can be changed and rearranged to suit your trip.
Download your printable
"FIRST AID TRAVEL KIT" here!
Let’s start with the container. We have found that children’s school lunch boxes can be ideal containers for travel first aid kits. They are usually robust, about the right size, and have a few compartments in them to separate items so they can be easily located. A toiletries bag can also do the same job. The lighter the container the better and it needs to be waterproof, or make sure that you pack creams and liquids in their own little plastic bags.
WHAT TO PACK IN THE KIT?
Customize your kit to suit where you will be traveling and how long you will be away. The items listed below should deal with minor incidents and be able to support you until you get to the nearest medical center.
Take the products that you know and trust but in small quantities e.g. you will not need an entire packet of sticking plasters. Small ziplock bags are ideal for packing the items and easy to label if required e.g pills.
Small scissors: Just remember that you may not be able to take them in carry-on luggage.
Tweezers: Those little splinters can cause big infection problems if not removed straight away.
Thermometer: To check if urgent medical attention might be required
Safety pins: These come in handy for many purposes.
The most common travel ailment that 20 to 50% of international travelers suffer from is gastrointestinal infections. Diarrhea and vomiting.
Imodium, Loperamide, Lomotil - pills to help stop diarrhea.
It's a nightmare being on a three-hour bus ride or similar with diarrhea and no easy access to a toilet.
Anti-nausea medication- to help stop vomiting.
Antacid tablets- to help ease heartburn and stomach upsets
Rehydration powder- in case of dehydration from nausea and diarrhea or heat.
Another very common travel problem involves cuts, grazes, and blisters
Alcohol wipes- or a small amount of saline solution- to clean the wound.
Antiseptic cream- Small tube.
Antibiotic cream- You may need to ask your doctor for a prescription for this.
For any event where there is a risk of infection. A friend of ours who is a nurse
was traveling in Asia and slipped on dirty, greasy stone steps that someone had
just ‘hoiked’ on. She grazed her knee but quickly managed to clean it and swab it
with antibiotic cream, which she swears saved her from a nasty infection.
Gauze pads- individually wrapped squares.
One crepe bandage- to hold a dressing in place or support for sprains or strains.
Surgical tape- (good quality) to hold the pads or bandage in place.
Strip bandages- good quality plasters/ Bandaids. for blisters, cuts, grazes. You won't need a whole packet. Put some in a small Ziploc bag.
COLDS, FLU, SORE THROATS are a very common travel complaint!
Cold relief capsules- Take the ones that you know work best for you.
Nasal decongestants- help clear blocked noses and breath easier.
Throat lozenges- These not only help relieve a sore throat but will help relieve coughing too.
SUNBURN is entirely preventable, but unfortunately, still a very common problem.
Sunblock or sunscreen The quantity depends on how much time you predict you will spend in the
sun.This is one item not to scrimp on. Take the brand you are familiar with and know and trust. If you should get sunburnt use your antiseptic cream to help ease the burn.
Insect repellant- with DEET. Do your research before you travel to see if there are any nasty insects in the area you will be visiting and bring a good quality insect repellent. If you get bitten use the antiseptic cream to help.
Antihistamine cream- to relieve allergy symptoms such as hay fever, hives, and itching.
PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES & PILLS (keep these in your hand luggage)
For security, these should be packed separately and kept in your hand luggage. For ease of getting through customs, they should be in the original packaging, with your name on the label and, if possible, either a copy of the prescription or your doctor's note.
Be especially careful if you are traveling to Dubai or other places in the UAE, as codeine-based medications are prohibited and limit your paracetamol to 10 tablets or less as, although we haven’t personally heard of anyone being affected, there are some horror stories about travelers with codeine-based medications being jailed. Check carefully before you go.
If you are on any special medications or have special requirements, have a chat with your doctor before you go, and maybe carry some extra in case of emergencies. Pack some in your hand luggage and a few taped on the inside of your suitcase just in case your hand luggage goes missing!
The items listed above are the basic essentials. Please adapt the list to your own personal needs, depending on where you will be traveling and how long for.There are plenty of other things you can add but try to keep it to the minimum to save space and weight and travel safely.