How to Assemble a Travel Medical Kit
Traveling is a big stress for your body, even if you are a seasoned traveler. Sure, you never leave home without a good insurance (right?), but seeking medical help in a foreign country is time-consuming and stressful. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to bring along a medical kit that will help you with most of the trivial illnesses. This guide will help you not to overpack it and not to forget anything essential.
It’s good to have all your medical stuff neatly in one bag. Try to choose a container that will make using your meds convenient – a transparent package helps to find the necessary stuff faster. Cosmetics bags work perfectly, but transparent bags from bath kits are even better! An airport liquid bag is another good choice. If you’re backpacking, a metal or plastic box will protect your medical kit from being damaged. You can even buy a ready medical kit and then customise it to reflect your needs.
The size of your kit depends on the type of your trip: a small one will be enough for traveling in populated areas where help is never far away, but you’ll need a bigger one for serious hiking. Go for small packages of medication and pack blisters of pills without their carton packages to save space. If you think you’ll forget which medicine does what, write a small instruction and put in the kit. Or tape each pill’s dosage recommendations to each blister.
First Aid Items
That’s everything that deals with wounds and accidents. You’ll need disinfection, bandages, blood stopping, and fixation. Here’s an example list:
- Wound disinfectant solution (iodine, hydrogen peroxide, or chlorhexidine; alcohol is painful!). Pour it into a small bottle before the trip if it’s sold in big volumes.
- A roll of 10 cm wide sterile cotton bandage
- Medical sponge or just a menstruation pad for soaking up blood
- Band-aids of various sizes
- A roll of medical adhesive tape
- A roll of elastic crepe bandage with special clips or safety pins
The choice is very wide here, and different painkillers have different active ingredients. Take ones that you know work for you, and if you’re assembling a med kit for a group, take several with different active ingredients. Here are the basics of what you’ll need:
- A very strong one for when you have a major injury (ask your doctor for a prescription if necessary). It can even be in ampules, in this case, pack syringes and make sure you know how to make injections.
- A light one for minor head/toothaches
- Spasmolytic pills for abdominal pain
Cold/Respiratory Infection Treatment
You probably won’t die of it, but we all know that a cold can seriously spoil anything. Pack these to be prepared:
- Paracetamol or ibuprofen for when you have a temperature (and head to the hospital as fast as you can!)
- Decongestant nose spray
- Throat lozenge
- Cough suppressant
Stomach and Intestinal Meds
These are especially relevant if you’re going to southern countries that are not famous for food hygiene.
- Gastrointestinal adsorbent, for example, activated charcoal. Note that together with bacteria and toxins it also absorbs other medication so don’t combine it with anything
- Antidiarrheal medication. Note that a lot of these, such as the famous Imodium, just stop diarrhea and don’t cure the bacteria, so ask your doctor to prescribe you something like Ercefuryl if you’re heading to areas with suspicious hygiene standards.
- Probiotics – taking them regularly before and during the trip will boost your immunity against stomach and intestinal illnesses.
All the Rest
- Eye drops – especially in dry and sandy areas
- Panthenol for burns. And sunscreen to avoid them
- Blister stripes – for hiking
- Antihistamine for those prone to allergy
- Complex vitamins – really good for active vacations
- Condoms – duh!
- Any medication you normally use in sufficient amounts
- Prescriptions and checks for all prescription medication to show at customs
- Destination-specific medication, for example, malarone for areas with the danger of malaria
- Water purification tablets if heading to unsafe-water areas
- A card with emergency numbers (ambulance, insurance company, your mom)
- Hand sanitizer
In the end, remember that medicine won’t help you if you don’t know how to use it. We’ve already written that first-aid courses can be a good investment of your time, but if you can’t bother, at least read the instructions to all your pills and browse the Internet for how to perform first aid.Written by Kate