Your Ultimate DIY Travel First Aid & Medical Kit
Whenever you’re traveling, it’s good to have a little first aid kit with you. You never know when that cold will hit, or if you’ll take a tumble down some rocks. It’s not just for the boy scouts, travelers should always be prepared as well. So, below I’ll go over some items you should consider putting into your ultimate DIY travel first aid kit. Before I start I want to mention I don’t always take every one of these things with me every time I travel. They’re all on my master packing list, but each trip I’ll look it over and customize it for where I’m going and what I’m doing.
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Packing Your DIY Travel First Aid & Medical Kit
Before we go over the list, let’s talk about packing. I use a bag with a waterproof liner on the inside. For pills that are in blister packs, you can take one sleeve out instead of taking the entire box. Or, if the pills are in a bottle, you can either put them in tiny baggies or I’ve even found some of the smaller shampoo bottles from hotels have worked great! (The Tylenol in my purse is in one right now.) I also use those pillboxes that have a spot for each day of the week. Either I’ll actually split up my vitamins correctly, or I’ll use each spot for individual items. Say I’m gone for 5 days. I might do my vitamins and prescriptions for the five days, and in the extra 2 spots put my sleeping pills and extra Vitamin C in case I need them.
If you do take something out of its original packaging, make sure you note on it what it is, directions and expiration dates. You can use a sharpie or a handy dandy label maker. It’s pretty useless if you have a blister pack floating around in your case and you don’t know for sure what it is, how many to take, or if it’s even good anymore! This is also why it’s good to go through your kit often to check for things you need to replace. If you’re flying and only planning on taking a carry-on, keep that in mind when packing some of these items as well. TSA in general doesn’t require prescriptions to be in their packaging, but some states have different rules, along with other countries. If you’re traveling internationally I would check with the rules of where you are going/flying through.
If there are any regular prescriptions you take, obviously you’ll need to make sure you’ve got enough of them (always plan for more days than you’re actually traveling in case something comes up). Also, if there are things that you are prone to, or issues you have that can flare up occasionally, make sure you’ve got medications for that. If you explain to your doctor why you need the medication, even if you don’t currently have symptoms, they may be able to give you a prescription that you can fill to have on hand in case of emergencies.
Did you know…
Just a couple of technical notes about packing meds for a flight. Something I didn’t know until I was traveling home from Africa and very sick (not from Africa, just my own crazy disease I’ve had for a while) is that prescriptions in liquid form are allowed in carry-on bags in amounts over the 3.4 ounces and they don’t have to be in your bag with all of the other liquids. There are some rules around this of course though. You need to tell the officer you have them, and the amount should be a reasonable amount (let’s not get carried away). Check out the TSA website for their details. I do try to keep my meds in my carry-on when I’m traveling just in case I get stuck somewhere or my luggage gets lost.
What to Actually Pack in Your DIY Travel First Aid & Medical Kit:
We’ll start with the basics for your DIY travel first aid & medical kit. Whether you use acetaminophen or ibuprofen, make sure to bring it with you! Or bring both, I mean, they technically help in different ways. The good thing is that you can usually find some of either of these in many places around the world. But if you’re going to somewhere more remote (like a safari) then you’re going to want to double-check your supply.
Typically, I don’t sleep the greatest on the first night I’m not in my own bed with my dog. Even on the perfect days and nights, I can still have problems falling or staying asleep. Not having enough sleep is not a situation I like to find myself in, especially when I’m traveling! Plus, these can be helpful when trying to get your body used to a new time zone and melatonin is great for long flights.
Cold & Sinus
- Vitamins – First off, don’t forget to take your regular vitamins with you, and make sure that Vitamin C is in that mix! In addition to that, make sure you’re drinking your vitamin C whenever you can while you’re traveling.
- Emergen-C – Personally, I don’t think it’s rude at all to grab a cup of water from the flight attendant to mix this up after the person behind you starts hacking!
- Sudafed – When I’m traveling, I make sure I’ve got some of the good stuff with me to help fight whatever comes my way.
- Mucinex – This is something that helps me out so much when I’m sick. Sometimes more than Sudafed. I mean, who likes mucus?
- Nose Spray – This is very important for me. It’s great for when I’m sick, but it has other benefits. From the dry planes and pressure changes, the nose spray helps knock out that slight stuffed up feeling I get.
- Breathe Rights – Very helpful for breathing at night when you’re getting congested. Also, if you snore, it may be helpful on the plane or in the hotel if you’re sharing a room. 😉
- Cough Drops – Because sore throats and dry airplanes, need I say more? I’ll also usually have just a hard candy I can suck on while traveling.
Motion Sickness / Anti-Nausea
When I went to Mexico to swim with the whale sharks, I knew we would be on some bumpy waters and would need motion sickness meds! And in Africa, out on those bumpy roads trying to spot animals, it definitely wasn’t smooth rolling. Even if you don’t usually get motion sick, if you’re doing something a little more outside of the normal like the boat rides or game drives, I would make sure I had some with you if I were you. Just in case that doesn’t work for you, having some good anti-nausea meds, like Gravol, is not a bad idea.
If you have allergies normally, then this should be a no-brainer. However, even if you don’t typically, you may when you get to where you’re going. It’s always a good idea to have some on hand in your DIY travel first aid & medical kit, just in case.
- Hydrocortisone Cream – This is great for helping with numerous skin conditions from bug bites to poison ivy. You could also get a simple itch relief stick from Benadryl, but that is going to be more limited to the bug bites. Oh…and while we’re on the topic, make sure you’ve got bug spray (the kind with strong DEET).
- Neosporin to Go – Pain relief and infection protection
- Band-Aids – Make sure you’ve got a variety of different sizes, and that they’re the kinds that are actually waterproof and don’t slip off the moment they get wet.
- Gauze and bandage tape – You don’t need a lot of these, but from someone who tends to get injured easily, they’re good to have on hand!
- Ace Bandage – It would suck spraining your ankle and not having any way to support it so you can continue on your adventure.
- Alcohol Wipes – To help clean the area around wounds. They can also wipe off tools you might use to work on a wound, like tweezers.
- Tweezers & small scissors – These can prove to be very helpful. Tweezers are great for helping clean out a wound or getting a splinter or tick out, and there are many reasons you could need the small scissors. However, if you’re flying and only taking a carry on, you’ll have to skip the scissors. (If you skip the scissors you’ll want to make sure your gauze is already cut up then and not just one giant piece.)
Traveling and different types of food than we’re used to can play tricks on our stomachs.
- Tums – Because heartburn sucks!
- Pepto-Bismol – Helps again with the heartburn, but is also an antidiarrheal so can clog you up.
- Imodium – This is for sudden diarrhea or travelers’ diarrhea (it’s a thing).
- Dulcolax – This is a stimulant laxative, so if you are having trouble going, it helps!
- GasX – For that annoying pain you can get when you’ve got a little too much gas in ya.
- Activated Charcoal – Now, I have never tried this, but I know many people that swear it can be a lifesaver.
We shouldn’t have to explain these! Be smart, sunburns are no joke!
- Sunblock for lips
- Eye Drops – This is very helpful on those long, dry flights. It’s also great to have especially if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the water.
- Swim-EAR – This is also very helpful if you’re going to spend a good amount of time in the water. It will help dry your ear out if you use it right after swimming. However, if you have a history of ear infections or will be swimming for many days in a row and planning on using it often, you may want to touch base with your doctor first.
- Electrolytes – Personally I use Amazing Grass Green Superfood. It has the nutrients of one serving of veggies and electrolytes and in an easy to use dissolving tablet. There are many other kinds you can get though.
- Hand sanitizer/Wipes – I keep a liquid bottle, but then I also have some wipes. I’ll use those to wipe down things like my tray table, armrests, and headrest on the plane. Also, it’s a good idea to wipe down the remote in a hotel!
- Thermometer – I can never tell by touching my forehead if I have a fever! This is probably more necessary if you’re traveling with a child or with someone older though.
Other Notes About Your DIY First Aid & Medical Kit
Something else to remember when packing your DIY travel first aid medical kit is to always have your regular insurance information with you and know what your blood type is. If you’re traveling overseas, I suggest looking at travelers’ insurance as well. I had this when I went to Africa. I ended up not needing it but came very close to, and it was comforting knowing I had it in case I did go to the hospital (again, nothing in Africa made me sick – have to stress that because I loved that trip so much). Also, make sure you research what immunizations you’ll need before going to a different country. I also highly recommend you get a flu shot if you’re traveling!
Again, I don’t always take all of these things with me when I travel, but I do run through it each time I’m packing to double-check what I should have with me. What are some items you keep in your DIY travel first aid & medical kit?
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