Travel First-Aid Kit

The most important thing in a travel health kit should be that it is travel friendly. 

Having a good first aid kit can save you time, money, and hassle by avoiding the need to search for a pharmacy or doctor in a foreign place. 

You can find a pre-made kit but it can also be very easy to build your own of travel friendly medical supplies.

Collection of Basic Items For Common Medical Emergencies

The contents of your travel medical kit may vary depending on your personal needs, preferences, medical history, and the designated place you are traveling to. The number of items to pack will depend on duration of your trip and what your travel plans will be. Remember a compact travel kit is designed to only be used in a case of an emergency. You are not supposed to bring your whole medicine cabinet. The bottom line is to have the easy access to a first aid kit in the event of a medical emergency. Serious injuries should be managed by medical professionals.

The following items are some basic first aid supplies and medications that are useful for most travelers to any destination:

  • First aid items: Help treat minor wounds, cuts, sprained ankle, insect bites. 
    • Sterile gloves
    • Antiseptic wipes
    • Bandaids or adhesive bandages
    • Antibiotic ointment
    • Gauze/medical tape
    • ACE wrap  
    • Instant cold pack
    • Cortisone cream (anti itch for insect bites)
  • Pain relieversThese can help you relieve headaches, fever, muscle pain, menstrual cramps, or any pain from minor injuries.
    • ​Acetominophen (Tylenol)
    • Ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Anti-diarrheal medicationTravelers’ diarrhea or upset stomach can be caused by ingesting food and water that have been contaminated by viral or bacterial sources. Most countries with poor sanititation will put tourists’ at risk for getting travelers’ diarrhea.  Anti-motility agents help stop or reduce diarrhea caused by food poisoning or other causes. 
    • loperamide (Imodium) 
    • Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)
    • Antibiotic (discuss with your health provider if this would be appropriate for your trip.
  • Allergy Medications: Traveling to a foreign country or to remote areas should be prepared for any allergic reactions from the environment or from accidental ingestion. 
    • Cetirzine (Zyrtec)
    • Fexofenidine (Allegra)
    • EpiPen (if appropriate — must need prescription from health provider)

Other Useful Additions

  • Oral rehydration solution: If you are traveling to an area will you will be at risk for dehydration or have lost major electrolytes from travelers’ diarrhea or vomiting, finding packets of electrolyte powder or tablets can help prevent dehydration and restore energy.
  • Motion sickness medication:This can help you prevent or treat nausea and vomiting caused by motion sickness from planes, boats, cars, etc.
    • Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) 
    • Meclizine (Bonine)
    • Scopalamine patches (if appropriate — must need prescription from health provider)
  • Antacid: This can help you relieve heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux caused by spicy or unfamiliar foods.
    • Calcium carbonate (Tums)
    • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Copies of Travel Insurance policies: If you are traveling with travel medical insurance, be sure to have hard copies of your policy or policy card with appropriate phone numbers for contact. 
  • Copy of emergency contact information: It is a good idea to have a physical card of an emergency contact who is aware of your travel in the event of an emergency situation.

Travel First-Aid Kit For Children

It is important to include a basic first aid kit of emergency supplies for your children if you are traveling with them. You want to make sure children you are traveling with are safe too. Their medical needs may require you to pack their own kit separately.  

You are allowed to bring liquid medications that are greater than 3.4oz that is medically necessary. Make sure you include your medicine dropper or cup to adhere to proper dosages for your child.

Always discuss with your pediatrician regarding what will be safe for your child and understanding dosages can be different because most will be weight based. 

If you are traveling with more than one child, it can be helpful to pack a medicine chart with name of medication and exact dosages you would need to measure out for each child. This way, you will be able to quickly reference your dosages when you need medication. Always confirm with your pediatrician regarding your dosages.

In addition to the recommended basic items to include, consider the following recommended items for children:

  • Pain or fever-reducing medications:
    • ​Acetominophen (Tylenol)
    • Ibuprofen (Children’s Motrin) 
  • Anti-diarrheal medications for kids: Do not give dysmotility agents to children less than 6 months old. If fevers or diarrhea persists, please seek medical attention.
    • Liquid Imodium (Children’s Imodium)
    • Antibiotic — Discuss with your pediatrician if it would be appropriate to travel with an antibiotic for your trip
  • Thermometer: When kids are sick, they sometimes do not have the words to tell us that they feel unwell. Keeping a thermometer in their kit is one of the best ways to make sure they are not having fevers while traveling.
  • Pedialyte packets: If your child is vomiting or having diarrhea, make sure you have electrolyte packets that are appropriate for replenishing their fluid losses.

How to Store and Carry Your Travel First-Aid Kit

Once you have packed your travel medicine kit with the items and medications that you need, you should store and carry it safely and conveniently.

Here are some tips:

– Store your items and medications in their original containers with clear labels and instructions to avoid confusion or misuse.

– You should keep medications in a cool and dry place to prevent damage or deterioration

– Carry your items and medications in a small and sturdy bag or case that is easy to access and identify

– Keep them in your carry-on bags and in a safe place, separate from your toiletries or cosmetics to avoid contamination or spillage

Know Your Destination’s Health Risks and Requirements

While having an emergency preparedness kit while you travel is an essential item for any traveler, it is important that you have up-to-date information on what additional items you may need to bring. 

The right first aid kit will have enough supplies you would need in an emergency situation. 

Having an emergency plan in the event of an accident will save you and your family time while abroad. Always travel with health insurance and carry copies of important family documents and policies in the event you have to go to the hospital.  

If you do happen to get medical care while abroad, make sure you ask for copies of medical records so you may file your claim to your insurance appropriately.

Please consult your doctor or find a Travel Medicine Specialist for thorough medical advice and medical information that may be required for your trip.

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