Preparing your first-aid travel kit

March 28, 2010

By Judy McEuen
Travel Writer
Troy Media

Judy McEuen
Judy McEuen

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Mar. 28, 2010/ Troy Media/ — A travel first-aid kit doesn’t have to prepare you for every medical emergency; You want to travel light, after all. But it should have a few products that can guard against most travel related ailments.

Many products used to treat illness and injury when you travel can be found at your local drugstore, supermarket or online. Look for compact packages and bottles to keep your travel kit small and light weight. If you are carrying these items onto the plane, which you should do, you must remember the restrictions for liquids, creams and gels.

Good for making friends

When trekking or traveling in remote areas, packing a travel first aid kit can even make you friends, as well as helping people. One time, in Ladakh, we bandaged cuts and scrapes for several local people we camped near, including one little guy who had burned his foot stepping into the family’s cooking fire. The whole village was grateful and made us most welcome.

The basics you should carry might include things like:

Diarrhea, upset stomach or heartburn: I recommend Pepto-Bismol. You can still carry the bottle at airport security because it is considered medicine, but I have gone over to the tablets.

Constipation: We carry packets of Metamucil.

Antibiotics: Carry a broad spectrum antibiotic prescribed by your doctor, with directions on how to use it. While you will almost always end up throwing them out, it’s good to have along. Bring along the prescription as well. Most pharmacies around the world can fill generic prescriptions.

Decongestants or antihistamines: for colds or allergies.

Something for motion sickness

Disinfecting wipes: to clean cuts and scrapes.

A small tube of antibiotic skin cream or ointment: to sooth those cuts and scratches before you bandage them.

A variety of bandages: throw in a small roll of gauze and a small roll of adhesive tape.

Insect repellent: especially if you are traveling where bugs (think mosquitoes) will be a problem. It should contain an ample amount of DEET.

Malaria pills: if you are going to a malaria infected area, of course. Take them as directed.

Sunscreen: almost anywhere, but especially if you will be in the tropical sun. Nothing can ruin travel like bad sunburn!

Aspirin: or one of the other pain relievers that you can tolerate. Jet lag alone can give you a headache, and you want to enjoy your trip.

Finally, don’t forget to take along an ample supply of any prescription medications you require.

Use your judgment

Some people will tell you to take sterile syringes especially if you are traveling to less developed countries. Friends of ours took some when we all went to Madagascar. It was probably a good idea, but we never needed them and our friends got extra security searches while we didn’t. Use your own judgment on that.

There are several suppliers of pre-packaged first aid kits. You can find them on the internet or in stores with travel supplies. If you want a really comprehensive list for your travel first aid kit, go to a site like the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

You don’t want to be carrying around a full blown medical kit, but a travel first aid kit will come in handy to keep you feeling good for your whole trip.

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