Even if you have premium hotel stays and first class airfare planned for an epic adventure, things can and unfortunately do go wrong on any type of trip you might embark on. Even more so if you’re planning to see the world backpacking. While any type of unfortunate event may strike at inopportune moments, a travel first aid kit should absolutely be a fundamental piece of gear to put a bit of thought to. While I may definitely be preaching to the choir, travelers are commonly a bit confused as to what precisely should go in to a first aid kit for traveling.
With a little foresight you should be able to handle the majority of mishaps you or a traveling companion might be confronted with. The biggest trick when piecing together a useful travel first aid kit is that of balance. Having the right things for a tricky remote situation is one thing, but lugging around a giant commercial first aid kit can be unnecessary. While there is nothing wrong with picking up one of these packs, you will honestly end up carrying more than is needed in the vast majority of situations.
I have been graced with an amazing girlfriend who spends her days working as a nurse. She has helped me immensely in the ability to plan for mishap and incident. With her advice, years of tackling local mountain peaks, and traveling many miles from home, I feel confident in the kit I carry with me and am confident in recommending a basic first aid kit list.
It’s straightforward but assorted. I want to be sure I can cover any basic situation and more importantly can be handled with very little or no training at all. So without further adieu, here is my travel first aid kit packing list.
The most basic and essential of a first aid kit of any kind. Minor scrapes or cuts will be the most common injury you will see either for yourself or handing a couple out to travel companions or passersby. Stock several band-aid bandages in an assortment of sizes. If you’re planning on hiking or even just doing a lot of walking, it would be a great idea to pack some blister bandages. Remember not to go crazy and pack hundreds of these things. You will most likely be able to resupply at random shops on your trip.
An all around go-to, gauze should be in every first aid kit you pack. It’s perfect for dressing small or medium wounds, soaking up blood and stopping bleeding while pressure is applied. If you can get a wound cleaned, some gauze down on it and secured with a bandage or tape, you should have some time to make your way to a professional for observation.
I personally pack a few individually wrapped sterile square gauze pads. This eliminates time in having to cut a gauze roll to size and obviously makes it a whole lot easier in ensuring a wound stays sterile and clean.
In the unfortunate event you find yourself dealing with something bigger than a basic cut, elastic bandages are perfect for keeping a dressing in place and clean until you can get yourself or someone else off to proper medical attention. You won’t be working military triage, so one or two at most should do you just fine.
These come standard in any commercially available first aid kit (although you can buy them separately too) and are obviously useful for trimming gauze or bandages to size. Just be careful if you do carry scissors to ensure that your first aid kit goes in your checked bag when you are in transit or else airline security will take them off you.
Pretty standard issue in a first aid kit. Good for removing slivers, cleaning a wound or other random uses.
Easily overlooked, but definitely should not be are antiseptic wipes. Having a would get infected can make for a very bad time. Packing several will do just fine, antiseptic wipes are a quick and easy way to clean small cuts. Pair this with some antibacterial cream and you’re in good shape.
Condoms & a Maxi Pad
Aside from keeping safe when an amorous mood strikes, a few of these things can get you by should you need to fill them with ice for an emergency ice pack, water for a water carrier, or for some improvised water proofing. The later is great if you’re a female or traveling with one and having unexpected lady issues. Alternatively, they can hold a LOT of blood. Just one should suffice.
Pain relief medication
A few packs of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or ibuprofen are a common need for some minor pain relief if you have a headache or basic pain. Go with the generic brand, no sense in spending unneeded money.
Priceless when the situation hits, anti-diarrhea medication can be a godsend in situations when you can’t simply post up and get some solid rest for a day or two. Keep in mind, use this medication only when absolutely necessary. They won’t actually cure your diarrhea, the best way to do that is to just let everything naturally pass through your system (drink lots of water to replace lost fluids!). Use them sparingly and as directed and these can be lifesavers should the event ever strike. A couple bismuth tablets should take care of upset tummies that aren’t quite at the total evac stage yet.
It’s inevitable. It will happen to everyone. You will be bit by some insect or another and wind up with a rash or bump on your skin that’s either crazy itchy or possibly painful. Nine times out of ten stings and bites aren’t anything to worry yourself about, but my god are they annoying. Packing some antihistamine cream/ointment will greatly help in controlling any swelling or itching.
It’s definitely a good idea to make some room for an antibacterial ointment like Neosporin for scrapes or cuts. It will help prevent infection and aid in them healing a bit quicker.
If you’ve ever had a stint of seasonal allergies or not, being brought down by some strange fauna can leave you sidelined unnecessarily sidelined. Couple this with some benadryl (which can also help if you’re struggling to get some sleep due to jet lag) and your sinuses should be solid in taking on any outdoor excursion.
The above list obviously isn’t all inclusive. Wherever you’re setting off to can cause the first aid list above to be edited, but the above list should cover the basics in dealing with minor incidents. Don’t forget to pack up any prescribed medications. This will get you through the basics, while keeping size and weight to a minimum. Anything beyond this, means seeking proper medical attention when possible. The smart move is to know where these locations are before you travel.
Chances are you’ll never have to open your travel first aid kit up, but if nothing else you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you’re all set in handling some curve balls should they come your way.