48 In Guides + How-Tos/ Travel/ Travel Talk

What I Pack in My Travel First Aid Kit

When I went to Southeast Asia for 3.5 months a couple of years ago, I didn’t put together much of a travel first aid kit. Let me tell you, this was a mistake. I actually ended up being sick for a big chunk of this trip. I found myself in all kinds of strange situations trying to self-diagnose and find medications. In Don Det, I dug through a literal pile of medications on the floor of a store. In Vietnam, while on the hunt for antibiotics for a respiratory infection, I was mistakenly sent home with antibiotics for a vaginal infection. I will never make the mistake of leaving without a travel first aid kit again.

Things to Think About Before Preparing Your Own Travel First Aid Kit:

 Remember everyone’s travel first aid kit will look a bit different. Don’t forget to stock up on the things you know you might need.

 I have consulted with my doctor, and I would recommend anyone else do the same. My doctor knows my medical history + gave me lots of good advice.

Keep in mind your upcoming destinations. What you take may be different depending on where you’re going.

In My Travel First Aid Kit, I Never Leave Home Without…

⋙ Pain Medicine ⋘

You don’t have to go overboard here. Just whatever you would normally take for muscle pain, headaches, etc. I personally have ibuprofen and Aleve in my travel first aid kit. These typically take care of any of the pains I get along the way.

⋙ Diarrhea Essentials ⋘

I have been a victim of traveler’s diarrhea more times than I would like to discuss. Luckily an anti-diarrheal medicine was one of the things that I brought with me last time, and it was a life-saver. I also highly recommend bringing along Emergen-C packets. Although they aren’t the best-tasting things I’ve consumed, when you’ve had a horrible case of TD you need to get those electrolytes back into your system and this is an easy way to do that. Plus, they give you different vitamin and mineral boosts depending on the type you purchase.

⋙ Anti-Nausea Medicine ⋘

After a rough case of food poisoning in Bali, I swore I would never go without anti-nausea medicine again. It also is helpful for flu-like illnesses, bugs or even hangovers.

⋙ Heartburn + Gas Relief ⋘

I don’t know if this is because I’m quickly approaching 30, but I can’t leave home without Tums to soothe my heartburn. The gas relief is great of those days you feel gross and bloated. Let’s be real, we’ve all had them.

⋙ Cold + Sinus / Allergy Relief ⋘

I caught a cold the last time I was in Asia. This turned to bronchitis, which I had for almost three months and ever since then, I’ve had asthma. Now this is an extreme circumstance, but definitely take something to nip those nagging colds in the bud. Allergies are just miserable. So be sure to bring some non-drowsy allergy relief.

⋙Bandages / Antibacterial Cream ⋘

These are perfect for the cuts and scrapes that happen along the way. It’s great to have an antibacterial cream, like Neosporin, just to make sure that they don’t turn into something bigger.

⋙ Feminine Products  ⋘

Ladies, we have a unique set of issues that befall us. Let me tell you, you wanna be prepared for those. I’m talking something for cramping (although, I typically just use my aforementioned ibuprofen), feminine products (tampons can be hard to find in certain places of the world), and yeast infection medicine. Many women travelers use the Diva Cup. I’ve recently switched to an IUD so I don’t have to pack at least a year’s worth of birth control.

⋙Anti-Itch Cream

Bug bites. Enough said. Ha!

Other Things to Remember:

Are you going to be in high altitudes? Bring medicine for that!

Are you a single traveler? Planning on being sexually active? Keep condoms in your “first aid kit”. An STD would be a crappy souvenir to take home with you. Always be in control of your own health.

How long are you traveling? Do you have prescriptions that you may need extra of? I know I’ve gotten extra inhalers to take with me on our 12-month journey.

Can you easily find these materials abroad? If I know I’m going to go on somewhere in the middle of nowhere for an extended period of time, I’ll pick up a couple of extra materials. Like medical wrap and gauze. Just in case.

Don’t forget your vaccinations! Call around to price these. We managed to get some expensive vaccines completely covered by price-checking.

Keep all of your medications with their original labeling, otherwise they may not make it through customs.

You always hope that you’ll never have to use any of these things, but the reality is, you will. Nothing is worse than getting ready to embark on a long bus ride and have a headache, diarrhea or nausea. Being prepared is always the best policy!
Is there something I’m missing from my travel first aid kit? Have you ever had an experience where you wish you had had something with you?

The Travel First Aid Kit information I have provided here is for general travel health advice and information only. It’s based off of my experience travel, but it is not a replacement for a personal consultation with a travel nurse specialist, your GP, or a doctor specializing in travel medicine who can tailor advice to your individual medical history and needs. Always check with them before taking off for personalizing your own travel first aid kit. 

Did You Find This Post Helpful? PIN IT So Others Can Too!

You Might Also Like

48 Comments

  • Reply
    Laura
    July 10, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Great tips in here! I have a similar First Aid kit, although I definitely always carry Tiger Balm with me everywhere. I should start packing TUMS with me come to think of it. Noted! I’ve actually never had motion sickness until the past year or so (it was a JOY in New Zealand with all the mountains and twisty roads…) so I always pack motion sickness pills. Bonus points is they knocked me out last year on long road trips in Southeast Asia, so it was a win-win situation 😛

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 13, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks, Laura. I have heard all about the wonders of Tiger Balm while backpacking in SE Asia, but somehow made it around all around there without trying it. I’ll give it a go and buy some in September when we return. I caught motion sickness while on an island cruise in Greece – I’ve had it ever since. The drowsiness is the part I don’t like because I missed out on beauty out the window – unless it’s a night bus, then bring it on! Ha!

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    July 10, 2017 at 11:30 am

    I have been really lazy lately about making sure my first aid kit is stocked when we travel! I end up getting a cut or something and having to search like a mad woman for a bandage. In Japan it worked out because I ended up getting some really cool Hello Kitty bandages out of it! When we were backpacking SE Asia we found a great antibiotic to carry around if we thought we got a really bad bug causing bad travelers diarrhea. You have things on here I would have never thought of like nausea medicine, which is a no brainer for me since I get motion sickness! Thanks for the tips! I need to go stock up my first aid kit now!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 13, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      Ha! I love the Hello Kitty Bandaids. Sounds cute. Do you remember the antibiotic? I tried getting some for a respiratory infection that had turned to bronchitis and kept getting a vaginal infection antibiotic given to me. Haha. Clearly there was a miscommunication. My doctor is awesome and gave me an antibiotic for bronchitis just in case because colds turn to that quickly for me because of my asthma.. Joys of life… Ha!

  • Reply
    Girlswanderlust
    July 10, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    This is very useful! I always bring some aspirines and tampons with me when I go travelling, but it’s also good to know what’s best to bring when you go a little further where the culture is too different. In that case, you need to prepare and take some more with you. I will definitely keep this list with me!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 13, 2017 at 5:51 pm

      It’s true. I didn’t even think about it when I went for 3.5 months last time. Now, I’m probably overly prepared, but better safe than sorry, right?

  • Reply
    Heide
    July 10, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    What wunderful advice, Paige! 😉 In addition to the things you list, I always toss a few BandAid blister cushions in my kit. They stay on for days in you want — or you can put them on the inside of a shoe to cover a bothersome seam or stitch. And although disposable ponchos aren’t exactly a “first aid” item, I’ve used them for everything from keeping by bags dry to covering a bench that was otherwise unusable because it was coated in bird poop. Anyway. Thanks again for the great travel advice!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 14, 2017 at 11:38 pm

      Thank you so much Heide – love the pun 😉 That’s a GREAT tip! I hadn’t even thought about those. I’ll have to get some before my hiking trip this weekend, just in case! Thanks for commenting and adding your great tips!

  • Reply
    Natasha
    July 10, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    THis is seriously so smart. It looks like you have a nice variety and I also love the cute bag you store everything in, too. Doesn’t make it seem as hospital-like as those kits you buy that are already put together. I finally started to remember packing Tylenol and bandaids the last year or so — I know, I know…. lol

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 14, 2017 at 11:41 pm

      Thanks, Natasha! I just got this little bag for myself this summer because I was tired of the ugly ones too! Who says backpacking can’t be girly? Haha. At least you’re making some additions to your packing.. You’ll be carrying a medicine cabinet like me in no time! haha!

  • Reply
    Reshma Narasing
    July 11, 2017 at 10:34 am

    This is a good list! You have covered most of the essentials! After years of traveling I have finally figured out my list. Earlier I used to forget or miss any of them! In addition, I also carry the medicine for motion sickness!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 14, 2017 at 11:42 pm

      Thanks, Reshma. That’s a good one! I used to bring motion-sickness medicine as well, but the last few times I’ve taken it it makes me so drowsy that I don’t feel well for over a day afterward. :/ Have you ever had that reaction?

  • Reply
    Claire Sturzaker
    July 11, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Great list! I always have diarrhoea medication but hadn’t thought about anti-nausea tablets – although I do have travel sickness medication as I suffer from that, which sucks when travelling!!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 17, 2017 at 11:13 pm

      I suffer from that too. Although the last two times I preemptively took dramamine I was miserably tired from the pills and even the non-drowsy knocked me out for almost a full day. Which is just as bad as the motion sickness to me. I was so groggy and gross-feeling still. :/

  • Reply
    Candy
    July 12, 2017 at 11:50 pm

    This is such a great list! I never considered bringing antibacterial cream, but now that I think about it it’s probably a really good idea to do so next time. I also need to start carrying Emergen-C packets. That was by far my favorite tip from this post 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 17, 2017 at 11:15 pm

      Thanks, Candy! They’re really great and I even take them after a flight just as an immune system boost after being around so many people in a confined space. My husband swears by them!

  • Reply
    ambujsaxena05
    July 13, 2017 at 4:10 am

    Such a great list of reminder of what to pack! I think many trips involve sitting for long hours so gas relief and diarrhea medications are an essential for a travel kit.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 18, 2017 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks! It’s so true. Those long hours are the less glamorous side of travel, but it’s important!

  • Reply
    52 Quick Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia - For the Love of Wanderlust
    July 13, 2017 at 7:08 am

    […] Bring a first aid kit. I made this mistake one too many times. Now, I always carry my travel first aid kit with me. Also, don’t forget to get enough of the prescriptions to take with you. […]

  • Reply
    abcdefghizzy
    July 13, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Fantastic post! One of my biggest pieces of advice is for people to pack their own first aid kit instead of relying on the medicines found abroad, just because you seriously don’t know sometimes! I learned to pack my own first aid kid from my mother and she honestly saved my life ten years ago when I contracted e.coli that nearly killed me. Had she not pack prescribed anti-diarrhea medicine, I don’t think I’d be alive today!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 18, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Thanks, Izzy! It’s so true, you don’t always know what’s going to be there. That’s such a crazy story! Another reason to be thankful for your mom, right?!

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    July 14, 2017 at 12:24 am

    A first aid kit is something whose importance you do not realize till some mishap happens. That is the time one wishes that one were more organized. Nowadays we ensure to have at least the bare minimum of medicine etc. when we step out on our travels.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 18, 2017 at 4:37 pm

      It’s so true. I take the bare minimum for short trips, but the long ones I definitely load up!

  • Reply
    Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad
    July 15, 2017 at 3:13 am

    Brilliant post! Lots of people write off first aid kits as something they won’t need. Which is why other people used more of my ibuprofen and plasters than *I* did!! So I wholeheartedly recommend at the VERY LEAST, take painkillers! (and feminine products!) You’ve got some great advice though, like keeping it in original packaging, I’d never thought of that before.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 17, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Haha! I’ve had that experience before too. I’ve had to give away loads of tampons in my travels. And bandaids. Last trip I took I gave someone my last bandaid (clearly, I needed to take my own advice and make sure it was ready for use) and then cut may foot later that day. Story of my life. haha!

  • Reply
    Tamara Elliott
    July 15, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    This is such an important thing that many people overlook. Trust me, the last thing you want to do while in a foreign country is mime to a pharmacist what your ailment is and hope that they give you the right medication!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 18, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      It’s so true! I tried to get a respiratory antibiotic and got a vaginal antibiotic instead! Haha! Not quite the same thing, huh?

  • Reply
    Janet Sharpe
    July 15, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    I second Heidi’s suggestion for the heavy duty blister pads. They saved my weekend one time when I
    got a blister on my entire heel from my usually reliable boots!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 18, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      I just got a blister on my hiking trip this weekend! You two have convinced me – it’s now going in the first aid kit! Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Reply
    Brianna
    July 15, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Fabulous list! These are the things that we often don’t think of until we need them.

  • Reply
    Mindi Hirsch
    July 15, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    You are so right about the first aid kit, which is something I have learned after years of traveling. I spent a good amount of time in SE Asia last year, but luckily all I needed to use from my kit was Ibuprophen and plasters. However, I got terrible food poisoning in Sweden (of all countries) and was so happy to have the right pills with me.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 19, 2017 at 9:59 am

      That is lucky! That’s the thing, isn’t it? Everyone stressed about the street food in SE Asia or some place like that, but you can truly get food poisoning anywhere!

  • Reply
    sherianne
    July 16, 2017 at 10:18 am

    The last couple times I traveled I got the flu. Amazing every country in the World doesn’t have NyQuil! I now travel with the largest bottle I can purchase…

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 19, 2017 at 10:03 am

      Haha! I didn’t even think about liquid NyQuil! That’s one of the cold medicines I take, but the gels. That would be the worst to not be able to get better with something as crappy as the flu!

  • Reply
    Claudia
    July 16, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    You have named and listed sooo many great essentials! Though i travel with most of them I always forget to pack anti ich cream

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 19, 2017 at 10:04 am

      That’s one of my biggies – especially in SE Asia because I get eaten alive by mosquitos there!

  • Reply
    Thewanderingdarlings
    July 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Such good tips here. I never really think to pack a first aid kit which is a bit silly really! Will bookmark this as a reminder for me.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 19, 2017 at 10:07 am

      I’m glad I could help! It’s one of those things you don’t miss until you need it!

  • Reply
    Carolina Colborn
    July 18, 2017 at 5:11 am

    I just have gas relief and sleep aids. Great ideas…all the others. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 19, 2017 at 10:08 am

      I don’t ever think about sleep aids. Then again, I can fall asleep just about anywhere.

  • Reply
    Holly
    July 18, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    I always pack a bag with medicine in it. Just never know what you may need. I also take my vitamins and melatonin with me.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 19, 2017 at 10:09 am

      It’s so true! I need to pack some vitamins as well! Great tip!

  • Reply
    Peter Korchnak
    July 18, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    I hauled a first-aid kit with similar contents all over the world and was lucky enough to need it only once or twice. But when you do end up needing something, you’re so glad you have it (looking at you, dear Imodium).

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 19, 2017 at 10:10 am

      Haha! Imodium is the one I always need the most. It’s the worst if you don’t have it!

  • Reply
    Buddy The Traveling Monkey
    July 18, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    I’ve got a similar kit that I take with me since I tend to get headaches sometimes and I’ve gotten sick on previous trips. I’m glad you mentioned bandages. I always keep those too, but not for the obvious cuts and scrapes. One time I was traveling in new boots and was starting to get blisters. Luckily I had bandages so I was able to put them over the sore areas of my feet and keep on going!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 19, 2017 at 10:12 am

      That is a good other use for bandages. I wrap my toes in them if I’m doing a mostly downhill hike just so I don’t lose my toenails. Haha

  • Reply
    Elaine Masters
    July 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Great guidance here. I have one and adjust it for every trip. Even though I may never need some of the the items, it’s a relief to have them when I do. I also hate spending trip time searching for something I could’ve easily brought from home.

  • Join the Conversation!

    %d bloggers like this: