What to Carry in Your Travel First Aid Kit

Most people would agree that a comprehensive Travel First Aid Kit is a must for a hardcore backpacking trip, especially if the trip involves visiting remote areas where medical care is not easily accessible.

But even if you’re just going to relax on the beach, attend a conference, or gamble in casinos, you should still consider bringing a First Aid Kit. You never know when you might need to treat a wound from stepping on a dirty piece of broken glass on the beach. Or maybe those creamy desserts at the conference lunch table had been sitting out just a little too long and anti-diarrheal medication could save you from some potentially embarrassing moments during your big talk. And the Aspirin and oral rehydration salts in your trusty First Aid Kit could prove invaluable in curing your hangover from partying too hard at the casino the night before!

The Basics

Pre-made Travel First Aid Kits can be purchased online, or you can customize your own kit. Here’s a good list of items to include in your basic Travel First Aid Kit, as recommended by the Canadian Government, the Canadian Red Cross and other experts:

  • Adhesive bandages, roller bandages, and triangular bandages
  • Adhesive tape
  • Scissors, tweezers, and safety pins
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Tensor bandage
  • Disposable latex or vinyl gloves
  • Blister pads or moleskin
  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer
  • Antibacterial and antifungal spray or cream
  • Antiseptic wipes (like alcohol or iodine pads)
  • 0.5% hydrocortisone cream for itchy bites or rashes
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Thermometer
  • First aid quick reference card

Remember that sharp objects, such as scissors and tweezers, must be kept in checked baggage if travelling by air.

Medications

Here’s a list of some medications you may want to bring on your trip. Make sure you bring more than enough medication to last your entire trip!

  • If needed, any destination-specific medications, such as for malaria or high-altitude sickness
  • Any prescription or over-the-counter medication that you normally take
  • Allergy medication, including an epinephrine auto-injector if you have serious allergies
  • Cold and flu medications, like cough suppressants, decongestants, and throat lozenges
  • Pain and fever medication, like acetaminophen (Tylenol), acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin), or ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Antacids
  • Fibre supplements for constipation, laxatives and anti-diarrheal medication
  • Motion-sickness medication

Keep in mind that some countries have restrictions on prescription medications. It’s a good idea to make sure that the name on your medication label matches the name on your passport, and to bring a note from your health care provider explaining what the medication is for. Also, leave all medications in their original, labelled containers to avoid mix-ups, and keep medications in your carry-on in case your main luggage gets lost.

Extras

You may want to include some of these other items, depending on your destination and the nature of your trip:

  • Aloe gel or after-sun lotion
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)
  • Insect repellent containing DEET
  • Ear plugs
  • Emergency blanket
  • Instant ice packs
  • Mosquito net impregnated with permethrin
  • Water purification filter or tablets
  • Extra pair of glasses or contacts
  • Saline eye drops
  • Condoms

Documents

Finally, here are some important documents you should include in case of medical emergencies:

  • Local emergency telephone numbers (closest hospital, clinics, and police station)
  • Proof of your health insurance coverage
  • A copy of your immunization records, including a yellow fever vaccination certificate if required by the country you will visit
  • A contact card with information on how to contact the following: your accommodations at your destination, a family member or friend back home, your health care provider, your home country’s embassy in your destination country, and the emergency number for your travel health insurance provider

You never know when you might need some medical attention while you’re away from home! A little preparation can go a long way when it comes to illness and injury while travelling. Having a well-stocked Travel First Aid Kit on hand can help prevent major problems and improve your peace of mind so you can get on with enjoying your trip.