First Aid Kits for Travel
When preparing for your trip, consider bringing along a First Aid Kit. What you bring depends on your current medical condition, how long you will be away and what your itinerary will be.
Basic First Aid Kit
The following are suggested items to include in your basic, low-risk First Aid Kit:
- A sunscreen with a minimum SPF (sun protection factor)of 15 that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Insect repellant (DEET 25%).
- Antibiotic cream such as Polysporin TM or Bactroban TM.
- An antiemetic (for nausea) such as Gravol TM.
- An antihistamine such as Benadryl TM, Reactin TM.
- An antipyretic (for fever) such as Tylenol TM, Advil TM.
- An antidiarrhea medication such as Imodium TM, Pepto-Bismol, etc
- Any prescription medication that you take regularly. These should be well labeled and in the original containers.
- Birth control pills
- Emergency contraceptive pill
- Condoms/dental dams.
- Bandaids and disinfectant swabs
- Water purification such as tincture of iodine or a portable water purifier.
Emergency First Aid Kit for Long-term and High-Risk Traveler
If you will be traveling for a prolonged period of time and staying in rural as well as urban areas we suggest that you bring a more complete First Aid Kit. We suggest that you add the following items to the basic kit:
- Absorbent cotton or gauze
- Adhesive tape
- Alcohol swabs
- Butterfly skin closures
- Burn ointment
- Insect sting emergency allergy kit e.g. EpiPen TM or Ana-Kit TM
- Tensor bandage, sling
- Scissors and tweezers
Medication depends on where you will be traveling. It is important to check if you will need medication for altitude sickness, or malaria. You may consider bringing the following medications along with those already mentioned in the basic kit:
- Cough medicine
- Antibiotic for severe diarrhea
- Eye/ear infection medication
Consult with your physician or pharmacists to determine which brand would be the most recommended for you.
The following tips and websites may help your travels be more enjoyable and healthy.
- Don't leave home without your Vaccinations. If you're planning a trip overseas some vaccinations may be required. Remember to plan ahead as some vaccinations should be given one month-or even six months before you leave. See the Health information Topic: Immunizations (PDF) or this website.
- Getting vaccinated will protect you against vaccine preventable illness but will not protect you from injuries due to accidents, drinking or eating unsafe food, or practicing unsafe sex. For more information see the Health information Topic: Safer Sex (PDF), these travel tips, or the Canadian government's Voyage.gc.ca website.
- Oops! Forgot about the ice cubes in your drink and now you have travelers diarrhea. Here's what you can do.
- After the excitement of planning your trip, getting the required vaccinations, the appropriate insurance, and preparing your emergency travel kit now how do you deal with the jet lag, motion sickness, blood clots? To learn more click here.
- If you are diabetic make sure to check this site, click here .
- If you have asthma don't leave home without checking this site: click here.
- If you are pregnant and traveling this site is a must: click here.
- The beach can be a beautiful site but swimming in the ocean can sometimes cause surprises. Check this site for advice about stings from jellyfish, etc.
- If you are wondering what to do about mosquitoes and malaria prevention click here.
- If you have allergies or a medical conditions don't leave home without a Medic Alert Bracelet. If you have allergies which can cause an anaphylactic reaction bring an Epipen TM with you.
- Make sure you have enough of you regular prescription medication to last the length of your trip.
- Always carry your medication in your carry-on bag as the change in temperature which occurs in the baggage section of the plane can cause the medication to deteriorate and render it ineffectual. As well, your luggage may be lost or delayed and, by having your medication with you, you can be assured that your health will not be compromised.
For more useful information please check the following websites:
Rehydration Tips for Traveler's Diarrhea
Traveler's diarrhea, fever, food poisoning, heat stroke and other conditions can rob the body of vital water. In case of dehydration, it is extremely important to replenish the lost water. Here is what you can do:
- Have with you prepared packets of a rehydration solution such as Gastrolyte TM or Pedialyte TM or the World Health Organization (WHO) Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), which you can buy in most pharmacies. You can then mix these packets with purified water. Learn more about water purification.
If you do not have with you Gastrolyte TM or Pedialyte TM carry packets of sugar and salt and prepare your own rehydration solution with purified water. Here are some quick home rehydration recipes:
- Mix together 1 level teaspoon of table salt, 3 heaping teaspoons of table sugar in 1 liter of purified water. Although this solution is not equal to the prepared packages, it is much better than drinking water alone.
- Mix together one teaspoon of salt and 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar or honey to 1 liter of purified water.
- Mix one 8-oz cup of orange juice (or other fruit juice) with 3 cups of purified water and add 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Mix together 1 liter purified water, 1/2 tsp. table salt, 1/4 tsp. salt substitute (KCl), 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 2 to 3 tbs. sugar, or 2 tbs. honey or Karo syrup
- Mashed bananas in small portions can replace lost potassium.
For more information check this CDC site.
Remaining healthy when traveling makes a trip more pleasant and memorable. The memories you want to remember are those of beautiful beaches, spectacular sunsets and friendly people. Not those of being stuck in your hotel with symptoms of Montezuma's revenge!
A well-prepared trip decreases the chance of experiencing unpleasant health problems. Preparing for healthy travel includes knowing what potential health problems you may encounter and how to prevent them. Health-related travel risks are influenced by several factors that include destination (developed vs. developing nations), location of travel (urban vs. rural), length of stay and accommodations (camping vs. 5-star hotels). These factors should be considered when planning for healthy traveling.
Contaminated drinking water is a major cause of illness in travelers. Here are some ways to ensure that your water is safe:
- Boil water for a minimum of 5 minutes. Keep it in a clean, covered container.
- Several types of water purification kits are available at travel specialty stores, but they can be costly. Look for protection against Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
- If boiling is not possible, add 5 drops of 2% solution of iodine (available at pharmacies) to 1 liter of water and let stand for 30 minutes.
Consult the Centres for Disease Control website for more information.