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First Aid

Traveler’s First Aid – What Should You Bring?

What kind of First-Aid kit do you need while traveling?

Let’s face it – emergencies happen.  But also sometimes, non-emergency sicknesses happen.  You could take your chances and hope that a pharmacy is open when you need it, but that seems like a very big gamble.  You should be carrying some kind of first aid no matter what kind of trip you’re taking. How much stuff is too much?  Let’s discuss.

Please note: This article and list does not replace medical advice from a qualified doctor. We are not doctors, simply travelers sharing our knowledge and experience with you all.

Now that THAT is out of the way…

First and foremost, if you are on prescription medication you MUST make sure you have enough for your trip.  If you’re traveling overseas you need to find out if you need any specific immunizations or medications to prevent diseases in that area. Talk to your doctor before taking any trip out of the country to make sure you are up to date on immunizations and that you have all pertinent medications! It’s important to go at least 6 months in advance, as some vaccines require many treatments.

Diarrhea is NOT something anyone wants to deal with ever, but especially on a trip. It’s very dangerous as it leads to dehydration.  Be sure to carry something like Imodium or Diamode (Ioperamide is the generic name) or Pepto Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) with you. Other travelers have recommended carrying Ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic) with them as well for this issue. Ciprofloxacin has many uses but you need to get a prescription from your doctor for this one.

Speaking of dehydration, you want to make sure that you get some rehydration tablets to put in your first aid kit.  These are quite handy as they help speed up the hydration process without the need to drink as much water.  Don’t get me wrong, you NEED water, these will just help things to move a little faster.

Sometimes you’re not quite sure if you should trust the water.  Water Purification Tablets are a lifesaver! There are also products like the LifeStraw (which is a nifty invention!) and SteriPen. The SteriPen is really cool because it purifies water within seconds.

Nausea and motion sickness are also a problem for some travelers. Pepto Bismol or Emetrol may help with this issue as well. Dramamine is used to prevent nausea and motion sickness, and I’ve used it many times in my life! Personally it does make me a bit sleepy though, as it is an antihistamine, so use with caution.

If you get a cut or scrape in a tropical climate, an infection could show up before you know it. Cuts and open wounds need an antibiotic cream like Polysporin (Bacitracin) or Neosporin. First clean the wound with peroxide, alcohol, or antiseptic wipes. Then apply the antibiotic cream and cover the wound with bandages.  Be sure to keep this area clean and covered! Also be sure to clean any small cuts quickly to keep it disinfected. Infections (especially in a third-world country) are no joke.

If you plan to be hiking or spending a lot of time outdoors, it’s also important to have some insect repellent with you. There are lots of products on the market, with and without Deet. You should also take extra measures to cover up with long sleeves and long pants. If it’s during the warm months remember to wear light colors and year-round you should wear moisture wicking clothing to pull sweat away from your skin.

WEAR SUNSCREEN! Yes, even in winter. You can get sunburned any time of the year. You want to protect your skin with sunscreen as much as possible. Sunburns are no fun at all, and can even ruin a trip if they’re bad enough.

Some other smart items to carry with you (that are somewhat self-explanatory) include ibuprofen, cold medicines, band-aids, moleskin, Benadryl, Gold Bond powder, antacid tablets like Tums, eye drops, surgical gloves (hey, you never know when you may need them), and aloe vera.

Please keep in mind, you’re not expected to carry an entire pharmacy on your trip. Make a small first aid kit with all your essentials, and only carry what you think you will need.  This is supposed to be enough to get you through until you can get actual medical attention or get to a pharmacy. Of course if you’re traveling to a busy city, you may not need many of these items since hospitals and pharmacies should be nearby.  But if you’re traveling to remote areas, it’s better to be safe… 

Lastly, I’m certain that if you travel you’ve heard of travel insurance. There are many different travel insurance companies and many types of travel insurance. It’s worth at least getting travel medical insurance just in case.  Again, better to be safe than to be sorry.

What are some of your Travel Tips for first aid?

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