No matter how short your trip, where you’re heading to or whom you’re going with, remember to always make space in your luggage for a handy first aid kit when you’re travelling. There are people who would scoff at the idea of packing such a kit since they believe they’re going on a perfectly safe trip – and that too for two days only, what could possibly go wrong?
This attitude could cost you dearly and make all the difference between the good kind of unforgettable holiday and the bad (you really don’t want to find out how bad). When travelling, especially when it comes to your health and safety, always expect the unexpected and go in prepared. Travel health is a very important part of your trip, after all.
Clari Health urges all travellers to pack items that offer basic solutions to common or foreseeable travel health ailments – be it nasty mosquito bites or traveller’s diarrhoea, these items could lend a major helping hand by ameliorating any unfortunate ailments.
When these items are in your first aid kit, you can better enjoy your holiday, knowing that you will be able to manage any minor health problems that arise for you or your loved ones. Mind you, you should still take every precaution to avoid falling victim to any of these travel health problems.
We’ve put together a basic packing list for your travel first aid kit – some items will help to prevent you from falling ill and others will provide temporary relief for you when you’re plagued by discomfort or illness. Remember, this is a rather general packing list for a first aid kit and the contents may vary depending on which region you’re travelling to.
To be sure about what to include, consult a travel health professional so that they can evaluate your holiday destination and point out anything that you may have missed. Without further ado, here are some items you may want to include in your travel first aid kit:
Be it mosquitos or ticks, there’s a high chance that you’ll face the distressing Bug problem regardless of where you’re heading to. You might have relief if you’re travelling during winter, but otherwise, remember to pack repellent in the form of patches or sprays. Repellents that contain at least 50% DEET are the most effective ones, so consult your pharmacist if you’re unsure of which type to buy.
Mosquito and tick bites are never fun to deal with and can be especially dangerous if you’re travelling to regions that pose a high risk of malaria, dengue, tick-borne encephalitis or other insect-borne diseases. Moreover, those with allergies to insect bites may also be spared from the incessant itch and rashes that may be caused by these bites if they bring along repellent.
This one is a rather region-specific item, but it’s high up on our list because it considerably reduces the chance of you contracting a serious illness like malaria – this is especially so if you’re travelling to parts of Africa or Asia or other areas that have a risk of transmission of the mosquito-borne disease.
If you’re travelling with an infant or toddler, are pregnant or have a weak immune system, you’re highly encouraged to avoid taking risks and consult a travel health professional to get a batch of antimalarial pills to cover you for the entirety of your trip.
There a few varieties of these pills and depending on your medical history and which region you’re travelling to, your travel health professional may recommend you different pills. Keep in mind that you’re usually required to take these pills the entire time that you’re travelling and for a period after you’re back home as well.
Traveller’s diarrhoea is the most common ailment faced by those on holiday – more than 20% of travellers heading to high-risk regions are affected by it. So instead of counting on being the lucky 80% and regardless of whether you’re travelling to a high-risk area, save some space in your handy dandy first aid kit for common diarrhoea medications such as Imodium.
Many of these medicines reduce the frequency of painful diarrhoea and relieve symptoms such as colic. This can give you massive relief if you’re experiencing a particularly bad bout of traveller’s diarrhoea after a meal gone wrong.
Remember to always seek your GP’s advice when choosing the type of diarrhoea medication to pack as some of them may not be suitable for you, depending on your medical history. For example, Imodium is not suitable for children under the age of 12 unless expressly stated by your GP. Diarrhoea medication can generally be picked up in any pharmacy with a prescription from your GP.
This is one item on the list that travellers rarely forget. After all, nothing can magic away a migraine or fever quite as well as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen. If you’re particularly prone to headaches or if your travel destination is going to be sweltering hot, it’s best not to take chances and pack a fair amount of painkillers to relieve any headaches that you may experience.
In cold countries, it’s more likely that you’ll contract a cold and develop a fever along with it – painkillers relieve uncomfortable fever symptoms as well and reduce the fever. Even if it’s nothing so serious as a fever, painkillers may come in handy if you’re experiencing a particularly severe backache after carrying a heavy load while hiking.
Basically, these pills work miracles and should be brought along wherever you’re travelling to. Be cautious if you’ve had a history of being allergic to any sort of painkiller and consult your GP before deciding which sort to bring along with you. Your GP will also provide you with important advice such as avoiding alcohol while you’re taking painkillers.
For those with severe allergies that are often triggered, antihistamines are a one-stop solution. These pills relieve the uncomfortable and painful symptoms that allergies bring on. Hay fever and allergies to insect bites are some common ailments which are relieved by taking antihistamines. Much like painkillers, there is quite a variety of antihistamines and you can seek advice from your GP about which one may be suitable for you.
If you’re planning to engage in your usual holiday activities after taking these, it’s best to go for non-drowsy antihistamines – your GP will likely recommend these because you’ll be able to keep alert and safe while in a foreign country.
Antiseptic or Antibiotic Ointments/Solutions
Ointments or solutions containing povidone iodine or other antiseptic or antibiotic elements can be immensely useful in preventing the infection of even small wounds and keeping them from becoming major problems to you. If you’ve taken an unfortunate fall or gotten a cut on your foot after traipsing around on the beach, it may be prudent for you to apply antiseptic ointment before putting a plaster or bandage on the wound.
This will minimise the chances of infection and avoid the complications that come along with an infected wound. It’s especially important to bring along antibiotic or antiseptic solutions to treat your wound in countries where there isn’t proper sanitation and where the water used to wash your wound may be unclean.
Plasters, elasticated bandages and gauze pads
For some, packing all three of these may seem excessive, but if you’re planning for a trip that involves lots of outdoor activities or sports, they may come in very handy. Plasters are pretty standard in that most travellers would usually pack a few in case they get a few cuts or grazes along the way.
However, if you’re going to be adventurous and go hiking or mountaineering, bandages may also be important because they can prevent sprains from intensifying. As for the gauze pads, they’re used in place of plasters for larger wounds which plasters may not be able to adequately protect and guard from infection.
Tweezers aren’t necessarily the first thing that may come to mind when we’re talking about first-aid kits, but these are especially useful when it comes to dealing with tick bites. In some regions, ticks may be carriers of tick-borne encephalitis or Lyme diseaseamong other diseases, so it’d be in your best interest to remove them from your skin using a pair of tweezers as soon as you realise you’ve been bitten.
It’s important that you only use a pair of tweezers or a tick removal tool to remove ticks from your skin because you may crush the tick otherwise and as a consequence, may not be able to remove it properly. Remember to pull the tick gently and steadily away from your skin while using tweezers. And don’t forget to wash the area where you’ve been bitten with soap and water and apply antiseptic cream to it afterwards.
Scissors are a vital part of your first aid kit despite having no particular medical property themselves. They can be used to cut away clothing covering a wound without irritating or aggravating the wound further. They can be used to cut gauze pads or bandages to the right size so that they can be better applied. They can even be used to remove dead skin that’s in the way of a wound, so that you can better treat the wound.
Never underestimate the power of a pair of scissors is what we’re saying. Surprisingly, this is one item in the first aid kit that may be commonly forgotten. In the case that you do forget to bring along one of these, make sure you buy one at the airport of your destination country before starting your adventure. And if you’re bringing along an old pair, make sure to clean it with an antiseptic solution or wipe and make sure it’s sterile before using it for medical purposes.
The list we’ve put together isn’t exhaustive, so make sure that you speak to a travel health professional about anything else that you may need in your first-aid kit, especially if you’re travelling to a region that has a risk of certain diseases or if your trip involves sports and other adventurous activities.
It’s important too to put all these items together in a first-aid kit that is hardy and solid and that won’t break or give way at the slightest pressure or impact. Some of the items inside are fragile or may need to be kept sterile.
So, remember: make time in between packing your clothes and toiletries to prepare a solid first aid kit. Make an appointment with us now for advice on what else you may need to include in the kit – depending on the place you’re heading to, the purpose of your visit and your itinerary, we can give you some tips on what may be necessary.