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What’s in my travel first aid kit

What’s in my travel first aid kit

Other than a couple of minor colds and a few brutal hangovers, I haven’t really gotten sick since I’ve been traveling or living abroad. I swear by a large daily dose of Vitamin C (an orange or a packet of Emergen-C), lots of water and regular exercise.

What to take in a travel first aid kit

However, I’ve learned that there are some things you don’t want to wait until you need them to buy them. I’ve done my fair share of frantically searching for a band-aid while blood is gushing or desperately wishing a dose of cold medicine would magically appear when I can’t bear to leave the couch, much less my house. These are the nine things that I hope I don’t have to use, but I’m never without–just in case:

  • Pain reliever/nighttime pain reliever: Headaches, minor aches and pains, hangovers: pain relievers are usually easy to find, but who wants to find a pharmacy the morning after a big night out? Plus, the go-to name seems to be different in every country (my pleas for ibprofen? tylenol? advil? were met with blank stares by my Australian coworkers: it’s nurofen here). Save yourself the headache and keep a stash on hand.
  • Band-aids: I’ve learned from experience that these are something you don’t want to wait to buy until you need them (I did the opposite when I was broke and moved into my first place after university: a nasty incident with the very sharp food processor blade taught me otherwise). My clumsiness with both kitchen knives and shaving razors have left me bleeding in unfamiliar surrounds more than once. Lesson: keep a few band-aids of varying sizes on hand.
  • Blister protectors and/or moleskin: Old shoes wear out, new shoes become necessary.  There’s nothing worse than wanting to explore a new city on foot and being held back by incredibly painful blisters–or having a big night on the town ruined because you can’t walk in your gorgeous new heels. I like the cost effectiveness of moleskin, but keep a pack of fancy blister protectors on hand in case there aren’t any scissors handy.
What to take in a travel first aid kit
  • Laxatives: Traveling–particularly long-haul flights–can knock your body out of its routine. When a balanced diet loses priority, it’s nice to have a packet of laxatives on hand to kickstart things back into normalcy.
  • Allergy medicine: While I don’t get “allergies” per say, I get nasty allergic reactions to mosquito bites and I often get heat rash when temperatures start to rise. I keep a pack of both Benadryl (causes drowsiness) and Claritin (non-drowsy) on hand–you never know if you might run into something abroad that causes a reaction.
  • Dayquil/Nyquil: I prefer fresh orange juice, homemade chicken noodle soup and a day on the couch to combat any cold or flu. But when I don’t have time to be sick, I pop a Nyquil before going bed to sleep soundly and wake up feeling better. (Side note: I once heard that most medicine dosage recommendations are formulated for a 150-pound man, overpowering women of a smaller stature. Now I always take half the dosage, and get fewer negative side effects.)
What to take in a travel first aid kit
  • Hydrocortisone (anti-itch) cream: Mosquito bites, jellyfish stings, bee stings: those are the things you never plan for, but can totally ruin your day. Hydrocortisone cream can also work wonders on any rashes or minor skin irritations that may pop up.
  • Athletes foot cream: Even with shower flipflops, I always seem to pick up athletes foot in hostels and public pools. Super gross, but a few nights of athletes foot cream tends to erase it pretty quickly.
  • Neosporin: The easiest way to prevent nasty infections and scarring from minor cuts and scrapes.
What do you keep in your travel first-aid kit? 

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  • Caroline Eubanks

    Good list! I also recommend rehydrating salts because when I had that bad stomach bug the only thing that made me feel better was those nasty salts, not the medicine the doctor gave me. 

  • I love those blister protectors. They saved the day in Paris! I’d also add loperamide (anti-diarrheal). Nothing like getting the craps in Cairo with no where to go. Don’t ask me how I know this.

  • I keep pretty much all of this plus bug spray. My husband doesn’t need it unless we’re somewhere particularly bad with bugs, but I get bit up everywhere. We once slept in a bed where red ants came int he window in the night, crawled over my husband who was next to the window, and bit up my legs. He didn’t have a single bump on him!

     

  • Extra chapstick. I always seem to lose mine, and almost ALWAYS end up with chapped lips when I travel.

  • Great list.  I am so bad that I don’t usually take much of anything with me but this time I have decided I need to be better prepared and am taking a lot of the items you included.

  • Anonymous

    im starting to carry things around with me too! these are great ideas, you may even want to consider pepto bismal….i have a sensitive stomach, especially while traveling!

  • Anonymous

    Spot on list – even just after 3 days in London I realize I could have used a few of these on hand! Fortunately Boots pharmacy is EVERYWHERE! 

  • I absolutely second the bandaids, painkillers, and nighttime cold medicine — all lifesavers. 

    I was in your old stomping grounds over the weekend, by the way!  Spent four days checking out the Côte d’Azur based out of Nice.  I really appreciated all your posts about things to eat and drink in Nice, and went to a number of the places you’d mentioned, including La Zucca Magica, Wayne’s (unsurprising that I ended up there, since I was at a big party hostel!), and also Snug and Cellar, all of which were good fun.  Thanks for all the tips! 

  • As well as what you mentioned, I always keep a nail file, elastic band and dental floss in my emergency kit. All of which have different purposes in time of need!

  • This is a great kit!  A big mistake I find of other travelers is having WAY TOO MUCH stuff in terms of toiletries and medicine supplies.  This is just what you need – nothing more.

  • Anonymous

    Ohhh what salts are those? I’ve never heard of them–I usually rely on chamomile tea for any stomach issues.

  • Anonymous

    I discovered those blister protectors in Paris–so helpful! I don’t usually have too many stomach issues, but I might have to add loperamide to my list once I start traveling again! Good point.

  • Anonymous

    I’m allergic to mosquitoes and I’m always the one who gets bit the most! Bug spray is a must in summer–good idea!

  • Anonymous

    I always have at least three chapstick with me–in my purse, in my makeup bag, and in my first aid kit! Totally agree.

  • Anonymous

    Any time I don’t take these things with me, I always end up needing them–especially the annoying things like bandaids!

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think I’ve ever had pepto bismal! I usually stick to chamomile tea or bananas or toast if I have any stomach isses–luckily I don’t get an upset stomach too often!

  • Anonymous

    Yes so true! You can usually find this stuff, but I find that I always need them after pharmacies close at night or on Sundays…etc, etc. Better to be prepared!

  • Anonymous

    That is so great to hear!!! I used to work at the Snug–thinking about going back next summer! And I was just thinking the other day about how I could go for a big vegetarian feast at Zucca’s…glad you had a nice time 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Nail file=very good point! I have a set of nail clippers that are key–and my extra set of hair ties are usually kept in my first-aid kit as well. Good tips!

  • Anonymous

    Yup–don’t want to overpack, especially if you’ll be able to find stuff there!

  • Anonymous

    I like how prepared you are–my kit looks similar! I have found that I love the French blister bandaids…Argo? or something like that. The best!

  • Nicole M

    Thanks for the great advice Christine! I’m actually heading to Australia on a work holiday visa myself and I happened upon this post. I hadn’t even thought about packing first aid stuff/medicine. I followed almost all of your suggestions. 🙂

  • Chloe

    I’d also recommend Gravol (can’t beat it for travel
    Sickness), imodium (a quick reliever for upset stomachs without the grossness of Pepto Bismol). And, some kind of allergy eye drops- they also double for getting rid of bloodshot eyes and take the redness out of pinples. Other than that it’s a pretty good list =)

  • Anonymous

    I love those compeed ones–always the best and so much cheaper in France! Clearly the French women know their shoes…and they’re willing to suffer for the best ones!

  • Anonymous

    Yay fabulous! You can find almost everything here in Australia–but still better to be prepared! I did have my mom send over Emergen-C and Mucinex–my favorites that I couldn’t find here!

  • Anonymous

    I don’t usually get upset stomachs (knock on wood!)–and if I do, a bit of chamomile tea or a banana usually does the trip. Always have eye drops with me since I have super dry eyes–good reminder!

  • Rajasthan Tours Operator

    good work u have everything in ur box now u dont worry

  • Rajasthan Tours

    nice post its useful

  • Rajasthan Tours

    nice post its useful

  • Cupcakecosmo

    i injured my sternum on my last trip to NYC (though , at the time, i thought i was dying, it was the worst feeling ever)

  • Cupcakecosmo

    i injured my sternum on my last trip to NYC (though , at the time, i thought i was dying, it was the worst feeling ever)

  • Quite an interesting post i will recommend your article in my traveler blog

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