7 Travel Med Kit Must-Haves
We're going over an often overlooked but extremely important packing item: the essential travel medical kit. Due to so many personal variables for one's health, these are eight med kit must-haves whether you are going away for 2 weeks or indefinitely.
Tailor Your Bag According to Trip Style
Are you road tripping across the US or backpacking through the wild Amazonian Rainforest
Wilderness emergencies where there are no people for miles around are very different from city emergencies where there are urgent clinics close by. If you are heading to a country where medical treatment is “less regulated” you will want to be as prepared as possible and within good reason. And, if you’re just heading to a destination where English is not widely spoken, then you will probably want to lessen the chance of pharmacy or doctor confusion by having some supplies with you for your basic needs.
See Your Doctor to Evaluate Personal Health
Before setting off on your travels, you really need to think about your own personal issues and the likelihood that you will need something important in a random country abroad.
Take a list of recent medical issues with you and see what you can start treatment for before you leave.
Make sure you get all necessary vaccines for wherever you are traveling. Be sure to also check the health advisory on all locations you are planning to visit. You can see all this information on the CDC's website.
1. All Prescription Meds (And Refills)
Make sure you go to your doctor to get a copy of your prescriptions and any necessary refills before you travel.
If you have more than a few prescription meds, it's worth investing in a pill organizer with labels. I use the Lewis N. Clark Pill Organizer because it holds all my vitamins, OTC meds, and prescriptions with labels.
2. Anti-bacterial Packets
A good antibacterial gel can have multiple uses for scratches, burns, and cuts. When you've been hiking for days and your heels start cracking, you can use this for healing up quickly. There is also some pain relief in the ointment that can really help when you still have more to see and do.
You can learn how to make your own travel individual use packets here.
3. Stomach Relief
You know your tummy best, and if you think you need antacids for heartburn or laxatives for constipation be sure to bring those.
If you are going somewhere with unsafe drinking water, be sure to bring a water purification device or purification tablets. Better to be safe than sorry.
4. Extra-Strength OTC Pain Pills
You've found yourself with a headache and fever, but there's still so much left on your trip. You need an extra-strength pain reliever and fever reducer to help you keep going. These can help with almost any illness you get that involves aches and pains.
Paracetamol can be found in many countries if you need to restock.
5. Basic First Aid Kit- Bandages and Antibacterial Wipes
Bandaids and bandages are sure to come in handy, because accidents happen! They're even more likely to happen in unknown territory. Be sure to pack things for minor injuries while you're on the road.
For bigger trips and adventures, I recommend packing more for sprains and possible breaks. You'll want to set yourself up to be ok until you see a doctor. This would be something like a tooth rescue kit and Ace Bandage.
6. Anti-Diarrheal Meds
Imodium can be a lifesaver in cases of food poisoning. This can also help with gas, cramps, or bloating from food that isn't sitting well with your stomach.
If you are going somewhere with unsafe drinking water, I would include electrolyte replacement for increasing your fluid intake and a doctor-prescribed antibiotic for self-treatment.
7. Health Info with Insurance Card
On an index card you will write:
- Your name
- Emergency Contacts
- Your doctor's name and contact info
- Any medication allergies
- Current medications
- Any Implants for Treatment
You can also use this website to print one. Be sure to also include your travel insurance card and info.
If you have a serious or potentially life-threatening illness, I suggest you also get a medical ID bracelet to have on you at all times.
Don't Forget These Important Med Supply Mentions
- Birth Control and contraception should be included if you are sexually active.
- Eye Drops- I love Rohto Redness Relief Cooling Eyedrops after hours with no sleep on a dry plane.
- Aloe Gel for Sunburns
- Digital Thermometer
- Motion Sickness Tablets
- Water Purification Tablets
- Antimalarial Tablets- Be sure to talk to your doctor about this.
- Blister Strips
- Insect Repellant with DEET
- Antifungal- Dudes, have you ever heard of crotch rot? That is no joke.
- Cipro- Needs a doctor's prescription. This is a traveler's go-to antibiotic.
- Probiotics- Non-refrigerated
- Multi-Vitamins and Fish Oil
- Yeast Infection Treatment
- Cold/Flu Meds
Med Kit Packing Tips
- Go for tablets over gels, liquids, and creams. This saves lots of space.
- Choose pill sachets over tubes.
- Ask your doctor for lots of sample-sized products. These are usually travel-sized and meet TSA standards for flying.
- Flatten any medicine boxes you have. You can also put a rubber band around them for extra secure packing.
- Store extra individually wrapped pills in empty bottles, but better to not bring any bottles if you can help it.
- Only take as much as you need, no more. Remember you can restock on medical supplies overseas.
- If you take multiple pills a day, it would be wise to get a pill carrier with labels.
Why Not Cheat A Little?
A good traveler is always prepared come what may, especially for whatever type of travel you are planning. You can also cheat a little and buy one, then add or replace anything to tailor your med kit to your health needs.
Bargain Price Med Kit
The best value and most well-organized first aid kit I've found, this little hard-cased kit includes metal tweezers and lancets, scissors, a CPR mask, an emergency blanket, safety pins, and a whole bunch of other items, including pads and bandages. This is perfect for dealing with small, non-life threatening emergencies.
Moderate Price Med Kit
This med kit is perfect for foreign travel. Here are some features:
- Prepare for illness and injury while traveling to new environments with unknown risks
- With enough supplies for up to four travelers on a trips lasting up to two weeks and a comprehensive travel first aid guide, stash this kit in a carry-on bag or day pack
- Intuitively communicate ailments to non-English speaking medical personnel with the Visual Communication Tool, filled with information on describing pain, bites, location of injury, and more
Splurge Price Med Kit
This med kit is made for backcountry use where there are few medical supplies around. Here are some features:
- Laerdal CPR Mask with O2 valve for protected mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- Detachable Ultralight / Watertight bag for summit attempts or trips away from base camp
- Irrigation syringe and wound closure strips to clean and close wounds
- Inner DryFlex bags keep contents dry in all conditions
- Hospital-quality tools, including EMT Shears and precision forceps set the standard for backcountry medical care
No matter where your adventures may take you, be sure you have the right medical supplies appropriate to where you are traveling and for how long. For more information, be sure to check out our Travel Health and Safety Guide!
Do you have go-to medical supplies when you travel? Let us know how you stay healthy in the comments below!