Travel First Aid Kit: What to Put in an Emergency Medicine Bag
Traveling is full of cuts, bruises, bug bites, burns, and scrapes; so build a diverse travel first aid kit. A good rule to follow is “prepare for the worst and expect the best!” Take it from some former emergency respondents, the below items will cover you for even the messiest of situations, short of amputation or dismemberment. Include these in your travel first aid bag:
Make Your Own First Aid Kit
- Elastic Bandage for Sprains
- Surgical Tape
- Small tweezers
- Antiseptic wipes
- Anti bacterial cream
- Antibiotics (from your doctor)
- Food allergies list (translated for the destination country)
- Bug Spray
- Benadryl (for allergic reactions)
- Pepper Spray (sere below)
Outside the Med Kit: Travel Insurance
It’s highly recommended to purchase a travel insurance policy for your trips if you are planning to vacation for two weeks or more. The reason for this is most insurance policies don’t cover you abroad and travel insurance can fill that gap for a relatively cheap price. Insurance will pay you for trip delays, lost baggage, doctor visits, emergency services, and evacuation from natural disasters and war zones. It also allows you to replace lost or stolen items like laptops or sunglasses if you follow the proper procedure. The likelihood of you using it is pretty low, but if the time comes when the worst should happen, it’s nice to know it has your back. If you have a points credit card, check with your company because they usually offer insurance free of charge.
We have always trusted World Nomads for our insurance needs. Filing a claim is easy and painless and they have your back.
First Aid Supplies List
We highly recommend the below products to streamline your first aid experience. Some of these products depend on where you are traveling. You won’t need DEET bug spray for Germany but you will need it for Thailand.
First Aid Kit
There’s no reason to build a medicine bag from scratch when this exists. It has everything you need and more. This would be the kit a traveling nurse or EMT would carry with them to treat most trauma and illnesses. It’s durable so it won’t get crushed and small enough to fit in any day pack or backpack.
If you are traveling to tropical locations that have mosquito born illnesses, such as Malaria or Dengue, pack extremely strong bug spray to repel them. DEET is a super powerful insecticide that is good for short term use when traveling. It’s not great on your skin or to inhale, but the trade off is death by Malaria or Dengue. It consists of 98% DEET and is a favorite among travelers in Southeast Asia. If you plan on carrying on, buy two 4 oz bottles.
Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent
This stuff is used by the US Army for jungle warfare. Back in a time long ago the US military believed the greatest threat to the world was communist nations from South America, so they invested heavy research and development into tactics to protect their soldiers from mosquitoes and disease. This led to permethrin, a safe insecticide that you spray on your clothes that repels bugs. Select some clothing, spray this on, lay them outside over night, and turn them into bug armor. It’s safe on your skin and lasts up to 700 washes. We use this tactic for South East Asia and the Amazon and rarely get bitten. You should only do this for countries with Malaria and other Mosquito borne diseases.
Most countries don’t allow you to carry on pepper spray and some outright ban it. It is considered a weapon and you may get hassled at customs with it. However, if you fear for your safety when you vacation and want to protect yourself, you can easily make some in the country with a few easy to find ingredients. Simply stash this in your emergency bag. You will need:
- 2 tbsp Cayenne Pepper (or something similar)
- 1oz Rubbing Alcohol
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- Clear spray bottle
Take 1 oz of rubbing alcohol and combine it 1 tbsp of lemon juice and 2 tbsp of cayenne pepper in the clear spray bottle. Mix it up and let it sit over night. Viola! You now have some basic pepper spray.
Medicine Kit Summary
Always prepare for the worst and expect the best. A good first aid bag will patch you up if needed, ease food poisoning, and fix any stomach issues. Combine it with travel insurance and you will be just fine in your adventures.