Including a travel first aid kit is an essential part of packing. Getting sick on vacation is miserable and searching for a pharmacy is the last thing you’ll want to do. This do-it-yourself first aid kit is quick and cheap to make plus has all the essentials. When you’re not traveling, throw it in your day bag for local adventures or keep it in your car so it’s always handy.
What to Include in Your First Aid Kit
Generally speaking, there are three different sets of items that should be in your travel first aid kit:
- Medications You Definitely Need (prescriptions you use at home on a regular basis + special medications for your destination, such as something to help with altitude sickness)
- First Aid Items You Commonly Use (in my case, that’s band-aids for a myriad of adventure activities + ibuprofen as the “all-purpose drug” for fevers, muscle soreness, and headaches)
- Items You Can’t Get Easily at Your Destination (I include items I’ll want immediately in this category; i.e. anti-diarrheals, so you can solve the problem at 3am instead of running to a store)
That means your first aid packing list will change a little for every trip. You can take just the necessities for a weekend in New York City and will need a more comprehensive first aid kit for remote destinations. After a little trial and error, I’ve come up with a packing list that suits my needs on almost all trips, and I simply add a few items when needed for special circumstances.
Why Do it Yourself?
Although you can buy pre-packaged first aid kits, I recommend tailoring it to your specific needs. That way you’re 100% familiar with what’s in it ahead of time and have products you trust.
Pick the Perfect Bag
My first aid kit is about the size of a paperback book, giving me enough space to work with without weighing me down. I keep it stocked with essentials so I can “grab and go” for most trips without having to worry about a last-minute trip to the store.
First Aid Kit Essentials
Inside my first aid kit are:
- Ibuprofen for fevers, muscle soreness, inflammation, and more
- Excedrin for migraines
- Bandages (I prefer ones with built-in antibiotic cream for convenience)
- Alcohol swabs
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Decongestant for the common cold I always seem to catch on flights
- Throat lozenges
- Motion sickness medications
- Insect repellant and anti-itch salve (hint: Green Goo works great for bites and stings, is all-natural, and the TSA considers it a solid for packing purposes)
- Moleskins for blisters
- Oral rehydration salts – for cases of food poisoning, over-exhertion, or one too many late nights
Bring the Kitchen Sink
I don’t bother packing items that I don’t use at home, but if these are more common in your household medicine cabinet, you might want to bring them with you while traveling:
- Medical equipment you may need (i.e. syringes, inhalers, epi-pens)
- Aloe wipes or other sun relief items (I may not bring aloe, but I do pack sunscreen!)
- Multi-vitamins and other nutritional supplements
- Sleep aids
- Antifungal gels or creams
- Separate antibacterial ointment
- Disposable gloves
- Elastic bandage wrap
- Eye drops
- Gauze Pads
- Medical Tape
Don’t Overpack Your First Aid Kit
Remember you don’t need a lifetime supply of everything, so count out what you’ll most likely need and leave the rest at home. I find small GoTubbs to be a good size for pills I don’t otherwise have a container for, but any pill container you have on hand should work. (Just label them if you’re bringing a few!).
The Bottom Line with First Aid Kits
My last piece of advice when it comes to a travel first aid kit is to make sure it’s accessible! It does you no good to bring medicine from halfway around the world if it’s in your checked suitcase while you’re onboard a flight. Make sure what you need is easy to get to when you need it. That’s a mistake I’ll only make once!
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What’s in your first aid kit?
Do you think I bring too much? Too little? Is there something different in your first aid kit?
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Read More on sightDOING:
- EVERYTHING You Need to Plan, Prepare For, and Take a Trip
- Do You Need Travel Insurance?
- How Much Do Travel Vaccines Cost?
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