A First Aid Kit for Travelers

Going on vacation? Make sure you’re prepared. Bring along a travel first aid kit to care for minor injuries or illnesses. When you’re packing for a trip, do you think about stowing a first aid kit in your suitcase? There are plenty of good reasons to bring one along. You could have a minor accident or be injured during your trip – something you don’t anticipate.

If you’re on a beach soaking up the sun, you may just soak up too much and end up with a bad case of sunburn. You may go hiking and step into poison ivy, get an abundance of mosquito bites or skin your knee.

Depending on where you travel, you may have trouble getting first aid supplies. If you’re hiking in the woods without a first aid kit, you may have a long trip back to civilization for medical supplies.

Before you start packing

When making travel plans, talk to your doctor about:

  • Getting any prescription refills you need. Make sure none of your medications have expired and carry them in their original containers. Also, ask for written prescriptions in case you need to refill your medications while you are away from home.
  • Any precautions you should take with respect to any medical condition you may have.
  • Any vaccinations you may need.

If you have a medical condition, it’s also a good idea to get a medical alert bracelet. And check with your insurance company about their policy for covering any medical care costs when you are out of town and unable to access your local provider network.

Traveling by air

If you are traveling by air, remember that there is a limit on the amount of gels, lotions and aerosols you may carry on. Metal objects like scissors or tweezers are prohibited too. Instead, these items must be placed in your checked baggage. Exceptions are made if you have a condition, such as diabetes, that requires you to keep your medical supplies nearby. Contact your airline for any specifics.

What to carry in your first aid kit

Along with your medications, depending on where you are traveling, these other items may come in handy.

For cuts and scrapes:

  • Scissors
  • Bandages in various sizes for minor injuries
  • Gauze and adhesive tape for larger injuries
  • Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
  • Hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds
  • Antiseptic wipes to clean hands
  • Disposable rubber gloves to avoid infection when treating wounds

For sprains and strains:

  • Elastic wraps for leg or wrist injuries
  • Disposable cold packs that activate instantly

For insect bites or poison ivy:

  • Insect repellant to prevent stings
  • Calamine lotion and cotton swabs for poison ivy
  • Hydrocortisone cream to relieve irritation
  • Antihistamines for itching caused by insect bites

For illness:

  • Anti-diarrhea medicine
  • Anti-motion sickness medication
  • Antacid
  • Thermometer
  • Cough and cold medicines


  • A first aid manual.
  • Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
  • Aloe lotion to soothe a mild sunburn.
  • Moleskin for blisters.
  • Acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin for pain, fever or headache. Ask your doctor which is best for you. Never give aspirin to anyone age 19 or younger due to risk of Reye’s syndrome.

Hopefully, you won’t need to use a single item in your travel first aid kit. But having it near will give you peace of mind and help you concentrate on more important things, like getting lots of R&R.