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Travel First Aid Kit

As a nurse, I love making up my travel first aid kit. We have travelled to some far-flung remote destinations with our kids, so having the best first aid kit for travel abroad offers peace of mind!

We’ve rarely needed to use it, but, I wouldn’t take the chance of not having one.

The most important thing of all is to have good travel insurance for your trip. We like World Nomads – click here to get a free price quote!

Your travel first aid kit is more of a safety net for smaller ailments that you can manage yourself, or, if necessary, until you can seek medical help.

I approach it from two angles; firstly, being equipped to deal with cuts, bruises, sprains and breaks.

Secondly, I like to stock up on over the counter medicines for other issues such as insect bites, pain, fever, dehydration, nausea and vomiting.

There are plenty of first aid travel bags on the market that are pre-made. You can check prices and reviews for pre-made kits here.

However, it’s unlikely you will find one that contains all of the over the counter medicines, as well as the usual things for cuts, bites, wounds etc.

That’s where this helpful guide to making a comprehensive yet compact travel first aid kit comes in!

I really do have the best travel first aid kit, it’s the nurse in me.  So, whether you are a family, solo traveller, or a couple, this works for everyone.

To read more about family travel health you can check out this post.

International Travel First Aid Kit

travel first aid kit

TRAVEL FIRST AID KIT ESSENTIALS

Don’t forget if you are ever worried you may have picked something up on a trip, healthlabs.com do offer a testing service for some conditions. All you have to do is go onto their website and find the nearest lab where you can go and take the test.

First of, lets dive straight into the over the counter medicines that I bring with me so we can deal with pains, cough, colds, and so on to make the best first aid kit for travel.

1. NAUSEA AND VOMITING MEDICINE

Nausea and vomiting medicines outside of a hospital setting come in the form of tablets which can sometimes defeat the purpose if it’s going to be thrown up again.

It’s always worth trying to reduce nausea / vomiting and Cyclizine tablets are often the ones most commonly used. I advise checking with a professional before packing them in your medical kit.

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2. DEHYDRATION MEDICINE

It’s important to consider dehydration that can be a result of a few things.  Of course, drinking plenty of water is the first answer to dehydration as well as looking after yourself in the sun.

However, if you are struggling to keep on top of dehydration, for whatever reason, you may be losing salts, and so having a hydration solution with all the necessary salts can assist.

We generally bring powder satchets that we add to filtered or bottled water.

Again, we buy one that is suitable for the entire family and something not too offensive in terms of taste for little ones will ensure they drink it.

Buy hydration sachets here.

3. PAIN AND SWELLING MEDICINE

Out of all the medicines we take on holiday, painkillers such as paracetamol (Tylenol) and anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen are something we end up taking the most.

Whether it’s for a headache, fever or general aches and pains, these two always come in my hand luggage too.

Again, in terms of weight and size, you can get powder sachets.

This time you will need adult and child age specific ones so don’t get this mixed up. Keep any medicines specific for children separately to avoid any confusion.

Many professionals say Ibuprofen needs to be taken with a great deal of caution, so make sure to read the instructions and consult with a doctor or pharmacist before your trip.

On our recent trip, our little boy had a fever and we couldn’t get it to come down with paracetamol (Tylenol) alone and needed the additional ibuprofen. You can buy Ibuprofen here.

Amazon Basic Care Children’s Ibuprofen Oral Suspension 100 mg per 5 mL, Pain Reliever and Fever…
  • ACTIVE INGREDIENT: This berry flavored ibuprofen contains 100 mg per 5 mL of ibuprofen, which is a pain…
  • CHILDREN’S PAIN RELIEVER AND FEVER REDUCER: A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that…
  • LASTS UP TO 8 HOURS: This children’s medicine will provide relief of minor aches and pains caused by the…

4. COUGHS AND COLDS MEDICINE

It’s not uncommon to pick up a cough or cold when on a trip. It can be difficult for kids to avoid germs while traveling.

Whether it was from an aeroplane, or change in weather, it happens and can be annoying.

Bring some cough and cold sachets with you just in case, and again you’ll need adult and child age specific mixtures, keep them separately.

We have a little pouch for the kids meds and they still pack away nicely in the same first aid bag. 

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You can buy cold and cough medicine medicine here.

5. ALLERGIES MEDICINE

I for one get terrible hay fever and mosquito bites, do you?

I always bring my anti-histamine tablets and I bring something to manage insect bites and stings. A cooling anti-histamine cream usually helps.

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General First Aid Supplies

 6. PLASTERS

Plasters are an obvious thing to take in everyone’s bag, not just a kids travel first aid kit.

It’s easy to get a graze or cut, so make sure you have them in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Did you know you can get eco band aids now? They are usually made from bamboo instead of plastic and contain activated charcoal which may reduce skin infection among other medical benefits.

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7. GAUZE

Gauze is an important piece of content for your basic first aid kit.

Gauze is essentially a sterile swab usually used to clean a wound, or to soak up blood and can be taped onto a bleeding wound to apply pressure.

It’s important to apply only sterile gauze to a wound and don’t keep reapplying the same one.

Always use it to wipe away from the wound rather than into it to avoid contamination.

Think about what kind of wound you are treating, is it dry and crusty? Do you need some sterile saline water to reduce any discomfort?

If the wound is bleeding heavily, you can apply layers of gauze and tape it down firmly to stop blood flow.

You may need to add physical pressure if it is bleeding very badly. Always make sure to seek medical advice if you are unsure and keeping things sterile is key!
You can buy Gauze here.

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8. SALINE

Saline is essentially sterile water that comes in little ampules or a bottle.

It is a mixture of sodium chloride (salt) as well as water and can be used to clean wounds or remove contact lenses and treat dry eyes.

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You’re not going to want to carry a huge bottle of saline around with you so I recommend the small ampules, just a few usually work best for travel.
Find saline ampules here.

9. SURGICAL TAPE

We’ve spoken about needing to bandage up wounds, whether they are bleeding or just need to be protected from infection. Surgical tape can hold gauze in place or can assist in giving some pressure if applied firmly.

This should only be a temporary measure as of course you need to consider circulation.

When the kid’s damn plasters won’t stay on, I give them a little bit of extra security with some surgical tape on top.

Consider shaving the area to make it less painful later.

This is something to keep in mind is it’s not so nice to take it off, especially areas where there is hair.
Buy surgical tape here.

10. ANTISEPTIC SOLUTION

Antiseptic solution comes in a variety of forms and is really handy to keep any cuts or wounds free from infection. You can get cream, wipes or a liquid solution.

The main ingredient you are looking for is iodine which is a disinfectant for wounds.

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They even use it before and after operations in hospital. It can help to treat or prevent infection. If you are wanting the most compact first aid kid supplies, wipes will be the best option.
Buy iodine wipes here.

11. BANDAGING

When we talk about strains and sprains in hospital, we use the acronym R.I.C.E which stands for rest, ice, compressions and elevation.

Having a couple of roles of bandages can assist with supporting a strain or sprain until you see a professional.

Remember the figure of 8 and even spread when applying it. If you make the figure of 8 with the bandage and move along the limb as you go, it will help you apply it properly.
Buy bandages here.

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12. COOLING PACK

Going back to the acronym R.I.C.E in relation to sprains and strains, applying cooling to reduce swelling is important.

Whilst you can make one of these at home quite easily with a bag of peas and a towel. you may not have access to anything when you’re travelling.

There are some good instant cooling packs that are activated by opening them.

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They are not too heavy or big so can pack away nicely into a mini travel first aid kit. The only downside is that they are only ‘one’ use.
Buy instant cooling packs here.

13. TRIANGULAR BANDAGE AND SAFETY PIN

If the arm is strained, sprained or worse, broken, you are going to need to elevate it to assist with circulation. Swelling in an injured limb can impact on circulation so you want to do all you can to assist.

You can make a sling with triangular cloth bandaging and a safety pin.

LINE2design Triangular Bandage – First Aid Bandage Wound Dressing Fracture Fixation Emergency…
  • Cotton Triangular bandages can be used as a sling bandage, cravat bandage.
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It looks kind of tricky so having a small first aid manual in your kit can be helpful. Besides from elevating the limb, the sling also provides support reducing pain.
Buy triangular bandages here.

14. STERILE GLOVES

Sterile gloves are really important in keeping things clean.

If you are treating someone else, it’s going to protect you from bodily fluids. Likewise, if you are treating yourself, say for example a nasty wound, it’s a good idea to wear sterile gloves to avoid cross contamination.

Really good hand washing before any contact is equally as important as having sterile gloves.

They usually come flat like a sheet of paper.

Buy sterile gloves here.

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15. TWEEZERS AND SCISSORS

I would love to say I have dealt with something gory with the tweezers from my travel emergency kit, but the truth is I usually pull an ingrown hair out of my husband’s face. Ha!

All jokes aside, having a pair of tweezers to pluck a horrid splinter can save a lot of hassle.

There is a tonne of other uses for them too, just make sure they’re clean!

Likewise having a pair of scissors for cutting up bandages and anything else to size is very useful. Make sure they are in your checked luggage, otherwise these things will get taken away from you at airport security.
Buy tweezers and scissors here.

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16. THERMOMETER

The one thing I use the most is the thermometer. I can’t tell you how many times my kids have had a fever recently (and it’s not even related to travel), They usually pick up bugs up from school and seem to magically develop a fever when we are travelling.

I find a digital thermometer best, one that is taken from under the tongue, or under the arm is easiest and probably most accurate. There are paper ones too if you prefer the most compact light weight option.
Check prices on thermometers here.

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PRINTABLE TRAVEL FIRST AID KIT LIST

If you would like a handy printable travel first aid kit list, click here.

Disclaimer: There may be affiliate links in this post, of which we get a very small commission of the sale at no extra cost to you.

Don’t forget my top tips for carry on first aid kit.

Get sachet medicines and don’t bring the scissors!

You can find all these products on our amazon store. For the USA click here. For UK click here.

Don’t forget to Pin this post for later so that you have it for your next trip!

You may also like these links:

The best approach to presenting mosquito bites

Family travel health

Best suncream for kids

Last update on 2024-02-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API