From a tiny cold to the dreaded diarrhea (don’t laugh, it’s happened to me every time I’ve been on safari in Africa!), or whether traveling across a state or to a different continent it is important that your travel medicine bag be prepared for when the unexpected might occur. Your first aid kit and supplies are just as important as your boarding pass!
But, what are the best items to pack? Here’s the list of what I bring no matter if I am heading out for just a weekend getaway or a month-long adventure. These items have made sure that I was equipped for many emergency situations, especially while in an unfamiliar place
NOTE: Always consult with your doctor before taking any medication as they may interact with other medications or aggravate existing conditions.
38 Items to Pack in Your Travel Medicine Bag (DIY the Best First Aid Kit!)
1. Aloe Vera Gel
When it comes to travel, packing a first aid kit is a must – and aloe vera gel should be at the top of your list. Aloe Vera Gel is a natural plant extract that has been used since ancient times for its medicinal purposes. Not only does this gel provide relief from sunburns, but it can also help soothe bug bites, rashes, and minor skin irritations.
Heartburn or indigestion can hit at any time, but especially when your stomach might be confused by jet lag or all the different types of food in a new destination. Don’t miss out on eating the spicy Mexican food in Oaxaca or Nigerian cuisine in Africa, just pack some antacids. They help to neutralize acid in your stomach and restore the balance of digestive juices.
3. Anti-diarrhea Medication
Trying new foods is one of the best things about traveling! Unfortunately, different food around the world can also come with its fair share of unexpected upsets. One of these could be an unfortunate bout of diarrhea, which can ruin a trip quickly if you are not prepared.
You can get a prescription from your doctor, or an over-the-counter Imodium AD does the trick for me.
4. Antibiotic Ointment
We sometimes forget that even minor scrapes and cuts can become severely infected if left untreated, so packing an antibiotic ointment in your travel-sized first aid kit is essential. This common topical medication works by providing an antibiotic barrier on the skin that helps prevent infection while also helping to restore the natural balance of bacteria in the affected area.
Buy the Top Brand:
Neosporin Antibiotic Ointment
Allergies can be unpredictable, and even the hardiest traveler could find themselves in a jam if they don’t have medication on hand. Antihistamines are medications great as an aid for fast, effective relief to allergic reactions. This will also be a front of the line treatment for insect bites and hives.
Have you ever gotten one of those dang paper cuts that won’t stop bleeding? Me too! That’s why an assortment of bandages are one of the most important items to pack in your travel first aid kit. They come in all shapes and sizes, so pack just a couple of each type.
7. Calamine Lotion
Calamine lotion is a type of topical skin relief fused with zinc oxide, typically used for alleviating irritation from minor bug bites, sunburns, or mild rashes or sores. It’s an easy and affordable way to quickly treat minor skin issues while away from home. Plus its anti-itch properties mean it certainly loves to make itchy mosquito bites go away in a jiffy!
Buy the Top Brand:
HUMCO Calamine Lotion
8. Cotton Swabs
Cotton swabs are a staple of most households, and another essential item for your first aid kit. They offer a convenient and hygienic way to clean wounds, apply ointments, help with splinters or foreign particle removal, and even stop bleeding.
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9. Cough Suppressant/Syrup
It really puts a damper on a day of exploring when you have a nagging cough that just won’t stop. Over-the-counter cough suppressants or syrup can be used to reduce the intensity of a cough, making it easier for sufferers to get some rest.
A decongestant can be a lifesaver during your travels. Not only can it help to relieve irritating and uncomfortable symptoms of a cold or seasonal allergies they help to clear the passages and reduce inflammation in the body to allow for better breathing and relief from sinus headaches.
11. Disposable Gloves
Packing a pair of disposable gloves can protect yourself and others when attending to an injury. These gloves help provide a barrier, ensuring you don’t come into contact with any germs or bacteria lingering on a wound, therefore preventing any further infection.
12. Eye Drops
Traveling can often leave your eyes feeling strained, dry and uncomfortable. Whether you’re out sightseeing, spending a long day on a plane, or working long hours staring at a computer screen, you need to have some eye drops handy to alleviate the irritation. Eye drops provide immediate relief by washing away dirt and bacteria, moisturizing your eyes and replenishing their natural lubricants so that they don’t feel dry and scratchy.
13. Face Mask
Face masks are a part of our “new normal” lives, offering protection from air pollution, dust, and other environmental elements, but also helping prevent the spread of airborne pathogens. In these unpredictable times, it is even more important for travelers to take extra precautions—having an easily accessible face mask in your first aid kit can go a long way towards keeping yourself safe as well as others around you.
Gauze is a loosely-woven medical bandage used for lightly compressing wounds and providing protection from outside elements such as dirt and debris. It comes in varying sizes and lengths to fit any injury or wound, ranging from superficial scratches to deep abrasions. Gauze can also be layered on top of one another until the desired cushioning and pressure has been achieved while still allowing the skin to breathe beneath it.
15. Ginger Pill
If you’re looking for a more natural way to ease some of the travel aches and pains, ginger is a natural digestive aid that helps reduce nausea, motion sickness, stomach aches, mild cramping and dizziness. There are many studies that have identified important compounds in the root that provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
16. Hydrocortisone Cream
Hydrocortisone cream is a topical steroid that can help soothe and reduce swelling and redness caused by skin irritation, such as bug bites, sunburns, itching and other minor skin ailments. Not only is it great for a travel emergency use but also provides ongoing relief from conditions like dermatitis or eczema.
17. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural antiseptic that helps to both clean and protect wounds from infection, making sure the skin can heal quickly and properly. Not only does it prevent bacteria from entering any open wounds, its oxygen bubbles create a tingling sensation which helps ease pain. Additionally, since hydrogen peroxide decomposes easily into oxygen and water, there isn’t any residue to irritate or harm healthy skin around the wound area.
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18. Insect Bite Anti-Itch Gel or Cream
Mosquito and other bug bites are ANNOYING, and there’s many destinations that are prone to these pesky critters (I’m talking to you Guyana!). Having an anti-itch gel or cream is the best solution for anyone who is dealing with an annoying and itchy bug bite. It can provide immediate relief and limit the side effects, such as inflammation and discomfort.
19. Insect Repellent
Traveling to exotic places can also mean insects and bugs! Do not let these little creatures stop you from exploring the world! Bring along a variety of repellants to help you best enjoy your stay.
20. Instant Cold Pack
When packing your travel medicine bag, an Instant Cold Pack might be overlooked, but it’s an incredibly versatile tool that can help in a variety of situations. Whether you just hit your finger with a hammer outdoors or are dealing with more serious injuries on a camping trip, an Instant Cold Pack can provide some relief and comfort in the moment.
Buy the Top Brands:
Clever Health Disposable Instant Cold Pack
The fact is that many travelers out there suffer from constipation, and if you’re one of them a laxative can be a Godsend. They work by either increasing fluid in the small intestine to help move things along or help make stools softer, so they are easier to pass.
22. Medical Tape
Medical tape, also known as surgical tape, is an invaluable tool for any first aid kit, particularly when you’re traveling. It can be used to hold gauze and bandages in place, especially on hard-to-bandage areas like wrists and fingers. I am currently traveling with a broken toe and am using it to tape my toes together, so one toe is acting as a splint for the other!
Buy the Top Brand:
Nexcare Gentle Paper First Aid Tape with Dispenser
23. Micro Led Flashlight
A tiny flashlight may not sound like an important addition to your emergency kit, but it can be invaluable in an unexpected situation. For example, if you are camping in the middle of nowhere, and it’s in the middle of the night and you need to inspect the wound of a family member or friend that was injured. tHaving a micro LED flashlight can also help if you need to read dosage instructions or expiration dates on medication. Of course if you have a phone with a flashlight, you can skip this.
24. Motion Sickness Medication
Motion sickness medication can be a saving grace when it comes to getting through car trips, boat rides and flights! These medications work by blocking the signals between the inner ear and the brain, which can help reduce dizziness, nausea and vomiting. They come in both pill form and as patches that are applied to the skin behind your ear.
25. Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS)
You can become dehydrated really quick if you are suffering from diarrhea, vomiting or excessive heat. Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) have the ability to provide the essential salts and minerals our body needs for proper hydration during a bout of illness. The electrolytes or hydro lights will restore your body back up with all the goodness it needs while keeping your sugar and salt levels in check.
26. Pain Reliever
A key item in any travel first aid kit should be a pain reliever. Remedying common maladies such as headaches and cramps while traveling can make all the difference in having an enjoyable holiday versus an excruciatingly painful one. Pain relievers can relieve discomfort almost instantly, meaning faster recovery time and less worry about worsening symptoms.
27. Emergency Contact List
If you ever find yourself needing medical attention or assistance while on the road, being able to easily access the contact details of doctors, police or family is essential.
28. Saline Nasal Spray
Most people think of bandages and aspirin when assembling their medicine bag, but don’t forget to add a bottle of saline nasal spray. This spray can help alleviate the symptoms of allergies, colds, and sinus infection while traveling— relieving congestion, stuffiness, or dryness in the nose. It can also be used to flush out mucus and dirt particles that are stuck in the nasal passages.
Trains, planes, buses…the germs are everywhere! These days, it’s rare that people leave the house without some sanitizer in hand, so adding it to your travel medicine bag is essential. Whether it’s a gel or a wipe, sanitizer is extremely handy for many different things, from cleaning minor scrapes to helping keep your hands germ-free.
Packing scissors in your travel first aid kit is an absolute must— even if it’s just a tiny pair of emergency ones! Not only can a good pair of scissors come in handy for emergency clothing repairs, but they are also invaluable when dealing with medical emergencies. For example, if you must construct makeshift bandages or splints, having a pair of scissors on-hand means that you can snip any loose ends and customize them to the shape of the affected area. Additionally, they can be used to cut off clothes or dressings that have become stuck to a wound or dressing.
31. Sleep Aid
One of the best ways to stay healthy while traveling is by getting plenty of rest. However, if you’re staying in unfamiliar places or have an irregular sleep schedule it can become difficult to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. That’s why packing a sleep aid in your travel first aid kit is so important—it ensures that you get essential rest during your travels, no matter where you are.
Don’t let the sun take a toll on your health while you travel the world! Sunscreen is important whether traveling in the mountains or beaches. It helps prevent sunburns especially in places where the terrains and conditions are different than what you are used to.
Having a thermometer on hand not only allows for convenient fever tracking, but taking a temperature also gives insight into what type of illness you or someone you’re with might have.
Tweezers are an incredibly versatile and useful item that can come in handy when dealing with minor injuries. Since they have pointed ends, they’re able to remove debris such as splinters and thorns from our skin. Additionally, tweezers can be used for delicate tasks such as cleaning dirt out of a wound as well as adjusting dressings without causing further harm to the injured area.
35. Water Purification Tablets
Having water purification tablets can help protect you from bacteria-borne illnesses and keep you healthy while discovering new places. Even if the tap water in a foreign country is potable, waterborne illnesses are incredibly common and can easily ruin your trip. With just a single tablet, you can make any water safe to drink—instantly!
Buy the Top Brand:
Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets
Whistles are essential for alerting people that you need help in an emergency, especially in wilderness areas when being visible or audible is more difficult. They can call attention to yourself so that other individuals and authorities can quickly respond to urgent situations such as weather warnings, medical concerns, getting lost, and traveling companions in danger.
Buy the Top Brand:
Storm Alert Whistle
No toilet paper in the restroom? Need to blow your nose? Want to pick up something nasty from the floor? Tissues will come in handy in a variety of different ways while you’re on the road.
Buy the Top Brands:
Kimberly-Clark Kleenex 3-Ply Pocket Packs Facial Tissues
38. Medications and Vitamins
Of course don’t forget your normal everyday vitamins and prescribed medications!
A travel medicine bag is your first line of defense when it comes to being prepared for unexpected emergencies while traveling. With a well-stocked first aid kit, you can help protect yourself and your family against health risks during trips and vacations.
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