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.
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.
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