I’m a first-aid nerd. In middle school when we started having clubs, I joined the first aid club. My dad was an EMT and firefighter, and I was always listening to safety talks. I even joined an organization called Safe Kids (in collaboration with the fire department) and the Citizen Emergency Response Team for the city and the university I was part of. I love to be prepared just in case anything happens. This means I’m seen as a bit of a Boy Scout, or Girl Scout, in this instance!
When I first started traveling, I was oblivious to anything that could go wrong. I guess I didn’t know what to prepare for…which just seems weird to me now. I’m prepared with multiple cards (debit and credit), access to online banking through apps if I need to move money in an emergency, and copies of my passport/residency where I need them.
You can find most of what you need anywhere you are in the world. But for ease, and to give you a bit of time to find a pharmacy, it’s nice to have quick access to the items you may need right away. That’s what this post is about. It’s not about bulking down your bag with unnecessary items, but to help you be confident that you can take care of little issues along the way.
First aid kit
For a quick and easy solution, you could find a pre-packaged store bought kit like the Johnson & Johnson mini kit in the US or Care Plus in the Netherlands. If you are Googling this in the Netherlands, look for an “eerste hulp set” (first help set). If you’re in the Netherlands, here’s the exact one I travel with.
Of course, you could build you own with these items:
•Adhesive bandages (plasters to my European friends 😉 )
•Antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin)
Medicines to take traveling
I think it should go without saying that only get medications that are safe for you to use. I’m not a doctor, just a human trying to give suggestions. Important note: Keep items in original packaging to prevent issues with customs and security people. I tend to buy blister packs so the brand is written on the outside, but even that could be considered risky. Get travel-sized and travel-friendly if possible. If you have a prescription, definitely take the bottle with you! I’ll give examples below.
This is what I take with me:
•Tylenol or Paracetamol
•Stomach pills (I’d suggest something like Pepto-Bismol and Tums)
•Motion sickness pills or ginger chews
•Personal emergency meds (Allergies, Insulin, epi pen)
What you don’t see here are things for colds and flu. When you feel one of those coming on, you can typically get to a pharmacy and ask for assistance. I’m mainly concerned about things that might stop you in your tracks. You might wonder, “Why throat lozenges, then?” Good question. I guess because I’ll let it go too long then I can’t talk correctly to ask for help 😛
Comfort kit when on vacation
I asked around among my traveler friends what they pack, but since a lot of them traveled all the time, I got a few answers that told me these things were more of a luxury to have since they thought about the weight of their bags more seriously than I ever have. That said, if you’re a backpacker or long-term light traveler, this list may not be perfect for you. But if you’re a casual traveler, you’ll want to take these along with you depending on where you’re going!
Blister kit (For DE/NL) I LOVE these so much.
Wet wipes for when you’re feeling yucky
Sanitizer for those hands!
Sanitizing wipes for everything you touch
Anti-itch pen or cream
I also tend to make a mini kit for the pills and such when I’m just walking around a city for a day. In a little tin (or whatever you have) I’ll put one pill of each (I buy blister packs) and a bandaid or two. If I’m wearing new shoes or for a long walk day, I’ll bring my blister pack as well.
Keep in mind, when traveling with only a carry on that all liquids will need to be in a clear bag no bigger than a quart. So while I encourage you to take your mini-kit with you when you’re out and about, be sure to put the liquids back in the clear bag before flying again.