Planning the Right First-Aid Kit for Your Travel
You’ve planned your trip, you’ve packed your bags – then you remember that you are travelling to a foreign country and might have to think about your health. Whether you travel to the tropics, the polar zone, or just around the corner, your first-aid kit plays a crucial role in your safety. That’s why we have gathered the right first-aid kit for you to be perfectly prepared for your next travel.
How to Plan for Your First-Aid Kit
Most people may only think about painkillers when it comes to the first-aid kit. That is only a fraction of the pharmaceuticals we take with us. Accidents can happen on any journey, but oftentimes, it is little things that bodge your travels. In many countries, mosquito bites, rashes, sunburn, or diarrhoea are high on the agenda. Especially when you don’t inform yourself about your destination beforehand, those little issues may get out of hand and ruin your travels.
What do we mean by issues? Our bodies are confronted with our homeland’s temperatures, temperature changes, the quality of the water, and humidity daily. When we travel to a foreign country, we have to get used to these new conditions. Often, people who travel to warmer countries complain about headaches and feeling faint until their bodies have acclimated to those new temperatures. Plus, each country has its flora and fauna, and as soon as you get off the plane or bus, you may encounter a mosquito.
A successful journey starts with prior research that prepares you for any distress in your country of destination. The following questions will help you provide an overview of your route and possible pharmaceuticals.
- Where are you travelling to?
- What is the climate like in your country of destination?
- When are you travelling there?
- What type of travel are you doing? A beach holiday has different requirements from a backpacking journey.
- Do you take any prescription medications?
- Are all your vaccinations and boosters up-to-date?
- Do you have any guided tours planned, or do you want to explore the area remote from the usual paths?
Even though most countries have qualitatively good pharmaceuticals, it is always useful to have the right first-aid kit. You can’t get every medication in every country and sometimes the prices are much higher abroad. Especially with pre-existing conditions, be sure to pack the right first-aid kid to be fully prepared.
Important Medication and Tools for Every Travel
Since every journey is different, there is no formula every traveller can just follow. However, some products are a necessity no matter the destination. Sunscreen is always helpful, as well as ointments and pain-relieving medicine for any kind of travel.
Here, you find a list of all the necessary products we have collated from our own experience of travelling abroad.
- after sun lotion (or products with aloe vera)
- sanitiser for hands and body, and cosmetic tools (e.g. tweezers)
- medication for diarrhoea and nausea
- painkillers (for fever, headaches, sore throats), dressing material (blister plasters, tape, plaster, scissors, dressing for small and bigger injuries, additional first-aid equipment)
- antibiotic ointments and sprays to clean superficial wounds
- birth control pill
- hygiene products (e.g. condoms, tampons)
Not every journey may lead to a warm destination, nevertheless, we put sunscreen on the list. This is because sunburn can cause issues on ski travels. Snow and ice are light-reflecting surfaces and can reinforce sun exposure. In many Asian countries, they sell “brightening” sunscreens which are pricier than in Europe.
Specific Products for the Right First-Aid Kit
The products mentioned above should always be in your luggage, however, depending on the country and your condition, you may have to add a few more items. When suffering from a chronic disease, always watch out for your needed daily dose. This way, in the case of an emergency, you are not reliant on local patient care. Many pharmaceuticals are available on prescription only and are difficult to purchase in travel destinations.
Important: Plan for additional days when putting together the right first-aid kit, in case you miss your flight or are unable to travel back on the planned day of return. This way you avoid buying medicine on-site or accepting dubious alternatives. It also helps to dodge additional costs.
On this list, you find products suitable for particular regions. Our list includes the tried and tested essentials.
- allergy medicine (don’t forget hay fever!)
- anti-inflammatory painkillers (for injuries while walking or hiking)
- disposable gloves
- clinical thermometer
- bug repellent and something for insect bites/stings
- contact lenses and eye drops (or emergency glasses)
- cooling compresses, malaria pills, sterile syringes, bandages for stasis (for snakebites)
- sachet/ drinking powder with electrolytes for hydration
- water purification tablets
For this, various medications can help. Important: In countries with dengue fever or yellow fever, painkillers based on blood-thinning substances are unsuitable. Pack Paracetamol as an alternative.
We recommend medication for:
- fungal infection
- light-headedness (motion sickness)
You may wonder why we listed burns here. Beach parties with fire shows are very popular in Asian countries, but various activities can cause burns. Dressing material and cooling sprays can help and may avoid bigger damage and a hospital stay.
What You Should Not Forget While Packing
Many travellers focus so much on the conditions of their destination that they forget about their daily medication. It is very difficult to acquire medicine on-site for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Many pharmaceuticals must be stored at certain temperatures. This is why we recommend a cooler bag when your backpacking journey leads you through a warmer country.
Do you need fast access to your medication? If yes, you should plan how to arrange your baggage before your travel starts. While you can’t access your checked bag until you reach your destination, you can open your hand luggage at all times. Store pain killers, motion sickness medicine, and allergy medication in your hand luggage for easy, immediate access at any time.
Are there Restrictions for Flying?
Throughout Europe, medication for personal use is allowed. The dose and amount of the packed products are crucial. If you are not sure that your first-aid kit meets the requirements of your travel destination, the website of the Federal Foreign Office can help. There, you find profiles for every travel destination and can gather additional information about regulations.
Medication in the form of tablets or capsules has no restrictions. However, when flying, passengers aren’t allowed to take more than 100 ml of liquids. Medical supplies like insulin injections or thrombosis injections are only to be carried in their original packaging. In need, have the patient information leaflet ready so the airport personnel can check and inspect your baggage quickly.
Do you need technical devices that are classified as medical devices? Glucose measuring devices may be carried with hand luggage but are subjected to the entry requirements of the destination country. It is recommended to get into contact with the producer, to print out specific travel documents. Additionally, your general practitioner can make out a document in English or other languages that allows you to carry those medical devices.
Important: If you are carrying medical devices on your body, you have to inform airport personnel because technological methods like the full-body scanner can cause tremendous harm.
What Everyone Should Pay Attention to
- Only take pharmaceuticals that have proven to work for you. Your travels are not the best time to try out new meds you have never used before.
- Pay attention to the expiration date! If you are doing a longer journey, an upcoming expiration date may cause problems.
- Study the patient information leaflet. Many pharmaceuticals have to be stored at certain temperatures, otherwise, they lose their effect.
- Are you dependent on daily medication? Watch out for long-distance flights, time differences, and the proper meds intake.
- Have you packed all documents? The e-card, vaccination certificate, allergy pass, and diabetic passport are part of your first-aid kit.
- In countries with higher temperatures, products like creams and suppositories can lose their effect when exposed to direct sunlight.
- Pregnancies require certain medication. Pay attention to this while packing the right first-aid kit for your travel
- Do you need proof of your vaccinations? In some countries, you are required to carry proof of a yellow fever vaccine.
Preparing for a trip takes a considerable amount of time. To avoid a rude awakening, we recommend putting down a personal checklist to cross off all necessary medications. Besides, it is helpful to exchange information online with people who have already visited your destination. You can find more information about planning travels on our blog. This way, your backpacking journey will be a beautiful experience having packed the right first-aid kit.