DIY Travel First-Aid Kit: 10 Things You Must Have

by Chip Chen
HEALTH  |  May 16, 2019
  • When it comes to health emergencies while travelling, this handy kit will be a lifesaver.
    1 / 11 When it comes to health emergencies while travelling, this handy kit will be a lifesaver.

    Despite our best efforts, we can suffer unwanted health or medical issues that can quickly jeopardise the enjoyment of a long awaited-holiday. While rarely requiring serious medical intervention, issues such as minor cuts and burns, aches and pains, stomach upset, allergies and malaise are a literal pain that needs to be dealt with, pronto.

    (Also read: A TCM Guide For Healthy Travels)

    Having a travel first-aid kit will give you the means to take care of these afflictions quickly while overseas. That way, you can continue enjoying your vacation without skipping a beat. We recommend including these 10 items when putting together your own first-aid travel kit.

    All photos: Shutterstock

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  • Medicines or Supplements You Take Regularly
    2 / 11 Medicines or Supplements You Take Regularly

    While taking a trip is a great way to get away from it all, that doesn’t mean you should also stop your regular medication or vitamins. Travelling comes with its own stresses — you’ll likely have to deal with dehydration, information overload, strange new foods and an unfamiliar bed. This added stress could push your body over its limits, causing your symptoms or any dormant infections to flare up.

    That’s why neglecting to pack your doctor-ordered medication (if even for a few days) is a bad idea. You could find yourself stranded with no relief, and do you really want to navigate a foreign pharmacy while fighting serious discomfort?

    The same idea applies to any health supplements (such as vitamins) you happen to take regularly. Stopping them while on holiday could result in you feeling less than 100 per cent, which may affect your enjoyment of your holiday.

    You don’t have to pack all those huge family-size bottles — just transfer the pills you need into a candy box with a reasonably secure clasp and you’re good to go.

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  • Aloe Vera Gel (100 per cent pure)
    3 / 11 Aloe Vera Gel (100 per cent pure)

    Aloe vera gel is a great item to have in your travel first-aid kit because of its versatility. It has antiseptic properties, and you can use it to soothe dry or itchy skin; moisturise chapped lips; treat acne breakouts; and heal cuts, scratches, bites, burns and bruises. You can even use it for irritated gums and mouth ulcers.

    (Also read: 4 Dermatologist-Approved Ways to Ease Sunburn)

    But make sure you’re getting pure 100 per cent aloe vera gel (it’ll say so on the label) so you can use it for all the above conditions. Don’t confuse 100 per cent aloe with sunburn cream or gels with “aloe vera added”. Those are meant only for sunburn, and may not be safe for use on open wounds, or when swallowed.

    The pure stuff is pricey, so we recommend buying a larger tube for better value. You can then squeeze some in a travel-size bottle for your first-aid kit.

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  • Plasters/Band Aids
    4 / 11 Plasters/Band Aids

    Plasters are an easy and effective way to keep cuts or wounds free from infection. They are also great for covering up pimples or cold sores — and those with cartoons on them make these afflictions look way more aesthetically pleasing too.

    Choose a variety pack that include plasters in various shapes and sizes to ensure an appropriate fit. It might also be worthwhile adding waterproof plasters in case your itinerary takes you to wet places.

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  • Anti-diarrhoea Medicines and Charcoal Pills
    5 / 11 Anti-diarrhoea Medicines and Charcoal Pills

    Despite its cutesy-sounding name, traveller’s tummy can quickly ruin your holiday. If you suspect you have food poisoning or gut inflammation, get yourself to the nearest clinic. Catching it early will mean a quicker recovery, giving you a chance to salvage what’s left of your holiday.

    Otherwise, if it’s just stomach upset because you ate too many spicy buffalo wings last night, and your flight home leaves in four hours, anti-diarrhoea medication (such as Lomotil) will be your saviour. This medicine slows down your digestive system which reduces the need to go to the toilet.

    (Also read: Dislike Medication? Here’s How to Treat Sore Throats, Stomachaches And Headaches With Home Remedies)

    Don’t confuse this with charcoal pills, which simply soak up stuff in your gut (reducing bad bacteria and/or toxins) and doesn’t control diarrhoea — but these are good to have on hand as well.

    The jury is still out on whether they work, but some travellers swear by probiotics to keep their gut healthy. On their own, probiotics may not be effective in treating acute diarrhoea; their benefits are more preventative. However, there isn’t any harm taking some if you have gut trouble — at most the probiotics will get expelled from your system. But if they happen to work for you, you will benefit from relief and quicker recovery.

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  • Nasal/Sinus Spray
    6 / 11 Nasal/Sinus Spray

    If spending hours in a plane or exposing yourself to different climates causes you to develop flu-like symptoms, (but you don’t have a cold), you may find some relief with a nasal or sinus spray. These primarily work by moisturising and soothing dry or irritated mucous membranes, stopping symptoms such as congestion and inflammation.

    (Also read: 6 Immunity-Boosting Foods To Avoid Catching The Flu)

    There are many formulations of nasal sprays available. Steroid-based formulas may be highly effective, but aren’t suited for long-term use. They also may require a prescription.

    Other sprays feature non-drug ingredients, such as mineral or plant-based compounds, which may be used as often as needed, and be just as effective.

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  • Analgesic Rubs or Patches
    7 / 11 Analgesic Rubs or Patches

    So you’ve shopped till you literally dropped onto your hotel room’s bed. As you kick off your shoes, a low, throbbing pain starts in your lower back and spreads down your legs. How on earth are you going to make it for tomorrow’s hike up the mountain for your #sunrise #OOTD?

    This is when you take out the Tiger Balm patches or Ammeltz rub and go to town on your sore, numb lower limbs. Apply liberally and let the sweet delicious heat bring you much-needed relief. By tomorrow you’ll be up and ready to tackle that hike.

    Just be careful with the hot water when you shower, because such medicines make your skin extra sensitive. You don’t want to risk a fall from getting a shock in the bathroom.

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  • Painkillers
    8 / 11 Painkillers

    (Also read: 5 Best Travel Workouts You Can Do In Your Hotel Room)

    There are many ways your bodies can betray you, putting you in crippling pain without any warning whatsoever.

    Take for example, wisdom teeth. They can sit for years in your head with nary a pip, and then one morning decide to wake you up with what feels like a right hook from a heavyweight boxer slamming into the side of your head. And every time you try to chew something, the pain gets worse. So now, eating even the most delicious food becomes a literal torture.

    Since it’s unlikely you’ll want to go for dental surgery in the middle of your Europe vacation, the only recourse is to wait till you get home. That’s why you’ll be glad you stuffed a strip of painkillers into your first-aid kit.

    Go for the highest-strength painkillers you can buy, as you want these to work when you need them to. That way you can get back to enjoying the rest of your vacation.

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  • Antacids
    9 / 11 Antacids

    What’s a good holiday without wining, dining and dancing the night away? But too much alcohol, overeating or irregular meal-times can upset sensitive stomachs, leaving you with problems such as acid reflux, gastric pain, gas and bloating.

    For a quick fix, pop some antacids or stomach tonics to neutralise excess acid in the stomach and help settle the gut. Look out for single-use packages to save space and keep your first aid kit travel-friendly.

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  • Hand Sanitiser or Antiseptic cream
    10 / 11 Hand Sanitiser or Antiseptic cream

    Keep a small bottle of hand sanitiser/antibacterial gel in your first aid kit as a quick and easy way to sanitise your hands before tending to your injuries (or those of your travelling buddies). In a pinch, hand sanitiser can also be used to disinfect a wound — but be warned, the high alcohol content means it will hurt. A lot. So do this only for shallow or small wounds.

    For deeper wounds, and to minimise scarring, pack an antiseptic cream or powder in your kit. Applying some when dressing the wound will help prevent infections, allowing scrapes or cuts to heal cleanly.

    (Also read: 10 Tips to Eat and Drink Clean While Travelling)

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  • Menstrual Aids/Needs
    11 / 11 Menstrual Aids/Needs

    And finally girls, let’s not forget to pack for your once-a-month visitor.

    In a small bag, pack any menstrual aids you may be using, such as teas, or herbal supplements. If you take painkillers for menstrual pain, make sure they are compatible with your general-use painkillers. It might also be a good idea to throw in an extra pad/tampon or two.

    (Also read: Period Hacks: 7 Genius Alternatives to Traditional Pads)

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