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Traveler's First Aid Kit: What to Pack

First aid kit

[Burke/Triolo Productions] / [Stockbyte] / Thinkstock

Ok, be honest, how many of you embark on an adventure without a First Aid Kit in your bag? Don’t worry, I won’t tell your mom if you don’t tell mine. However, I’ve spent enough time wandering around new places in search of Band-Aids and Tylenol to learn that it’s always a smart idea to throw a basic First Aid Kit into your suitcase. Whether you’re traveling in a remote area with little to no access to a pharmacy or hanging out in a country with outstanding and accessible medical service, the last thing you want to do while suffering from a headache or, ahem, gastrointestinal discomfort is to be wandering around looking for Ibuprofen or rehydration salts.

Because paper cuts can happen anywhere. One minute you’re happily flipping through the Skymall catalog, the next you’re withering in pain. Traveling can be hazardous. Make sure you’ve got something to protect those scrapes, blisters, and insect bites. I’d recommend
bandages with cartoon characters. I don’t have any scientific evidence that they actually speed up recovery. They’re just awesome.

Pain Relief Medication (Ibuprofen, Tylenol, etc.)
Maybe you fell off a camel, maybe you really shouldn’t have tried that absinthe, or maybe your traveling partner’s propensity to talk nonstop on 10 hour bus rides is giving you a headache. Whatever the reason, it’s always good to have some basic pain relief medication on hand.

Rehydration Salts
Alright, let’s face it. Nobody likes to talk about it, but traveler’s diarrhea gets the best of us. Definitely talk to your doctor or travel health specialist about medications for prevention, but, given that replacing electrolytes is an important part of recovery, it’s also a good idea to throw in some rehydration salts. Emergen-C always makes it into my travel bag. It tastes pretty good, has lots of vitamins, and can help you replace those electrolytes quickly.

Pepto Bismol
Taking tablets of Pepto-Bismol throughout the day can help prevent many cases of diarrhea. True story. I’m not a big advocate of taking medication if you don’t need it, but I always throw this in my bag just in case. If I’m going to an area where I’m a little concerned about the food, I take a preemptive tablet or two.

Motion Sickness Medication
I think it’s safe to say that spending a ferry ride hanging over the edge vomiting is not anyone’s preferred style of traveling. Between boat rides, bus rides, bush plane rides, camel rides, and any other activity that can send you rushing for a window or the side of a boat, it’s always a good idea to throw some motion sickness medication (like Dramamine) into the old First Aid Kit.

Topical Medication for Minor Skin Infections and Wounds
Your everyday, no big deal scrape can turn nasty if infected. A basic topical ointment can help ward off infection and speed recovery.

Aloe Vera
Raise your hand if you don’t tan. Yeah. Everyone who didn’t raise your hand, I don’t like you. Ok, ok. Sorry. I take it back. It’s just the jealousy talking. I could use SPF 90 sunscreen, sit in the shade, wear a hat, long-sleeved shirt and pants, and I would still get burnt. True story. So I always pack a little aloe vera or some other form of sunburn treatment creme in my kit.

In case of splinters. Or, if you’re like me, for that time you touched a cactus even after your mom told you not to do it. Oops. Good thing we had tweezers. And Tylenol.

By Nikki Hodgson


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