Travel first aid kits

My last pharmacy job was working in Melbourne’s CBD. As such, my main demographic consisted of relatively fit and healthy 30 year old go-getters. One of the main reasons for them to visit a pharmacy (disregarding the inevitable Monday morning Emergency Contraceptive pill rush) was for travel health advice, specifically what travel first aid kit to take.

Now clearly a holiday to the beach would have different travel first aid requirements to a remote trek at altitude so I’ll start with the basic kit I take everywhere with me, apologies for people living in countries with different brands, I have attached links to most things so you can get something equivalent. A first aid kit doesn’t have to be big to be good, you won’t be performing open heart surgery. Mine is smaller than two beer cans.

So here is what’s inside:

Oral rehydration salts Hydralyte Blackcurrant is the best tasting, the fizzy tablets are easiest to use.
Adhesive tapes & sterile bandages I usually take a thin Leukoplast and a few wound pads, that way you can get creative. Don’t spend big bucks on buying every type of bandaid known to man, be creative.
Betadine liquid  Iodine is the best antiseptic, messy but it kills the bacteria. (hint, you can apply then wipe off after 3-4 minutes to avoid mess as it will continue working in the wound after this time).
Lubricant eye drops No particular brand, I take the single ‘serve’ vials as the 30ml bottles need throwing out 30 days after opening.
Eye wash cup Good link here. If you get something in your eye you can rinse it out by filling it with boiled, cooled tap water (okay) or your lubricant eye drops (best). Hold the cup over your open eye and tilt back you head.
Insect repellant DEET is your friend the more the better, unless you have sensitive skin. If going to Asia I buy over there as the repellant is cheaper and stronger.
Antihistamines  This is personal. Different people react differently to each one. I take Polaramine (Dexchlorpheniramine 2mg) as it is a good trade off between drowsiness and anti-itch property. *Check with your pharmacist if you are taking any other meds or have prostate issues*.
Nasal Decongestant     Again this is personal. I take tablets containing pseudoephedrine but again seek advice.
Scissors/tweezers/splinter-lance A splinter lance is basically a solid needle with a big handle, I love these things, soo handy. When buying tweezers it is how neatly the ends come together, not how pointy they are which defines how good they are.
Pain relief Again, personal but I take Paracetamol as I tend to share a lot of my kit and this is safe with most medications and conditions.
Triangular bandage You can make an arm splint, put pressure on major wounds and do heaps of handy stuff with these (non-sterile).
Sunscreen  Mine has a carabiner so I can clip it to the outside of my pack which helps me remember to REAPPLY!
Tampons and sanitary pads Not only useful for women.
Tubular finger gauze  Hopefully the most major injury you get abroad is a cut finger, it is, I reckon, the most likely. Tubular gauze is the only way to neatly dress a fingertip wound. Note the applicator that comes with the gauze is far smaller than the one in the link.
Rubber gloves  For your safety when helping others.
Fingerdoms  This is my name for them. Handy little condom shaped finger stalls which keep a bandaged finger clean and dry.
Lip balm  Remember gentlemen there is no shame in having kissable lips!
Heavy crepe bandages x2  For sprains and strains
Blister dressings Those thick rubber ones which stop the friction.
Cotton buds …which my wife usually steals, but they are good for cleaning muck out of wounds.
grey Travel first aid kits

Finger-doms

grey Travel first aid kits

Tubular gauze for fingertips with applicator.

 

Now that is about it for my first aid kit. Remember this is a basic first aid kit and should be enough to get you back to civilisation in one piece. I’ll write about extras for high altitude trekking and special places in another post. In my next instalment I’ll discuss specific medicines which are handy to carry while exploring.

What have I forgotten? Feel free to comment below.

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