What should a traveler’s first aid kit include?
The American College of Emergency Physicians and the CDC encourage travelers to pack a first-aid kit or a travel health kit for common medical emergencies. Pack the following items in your carry-on bag and keep it with you at all times:
Medicines you take on a regular basis at home. Take enough medicine for the planned trip plus extra in case your return home is delayed. Carry all medicine in their original containers with clear labels that identify your name and dosing schedule. If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, seizures, or allergies, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet.
Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin to relieve headaches, pain, fever, and simple sprains or strains
Antihistamines to relieve allergies
Antacid medicine for upset stomach
Anti-nausea or motion sickness medicine. You may also want to include medicine for altitude sickness if traveling to high altitudes.
Antibacterial hand wipes or an alcohol-based hand cleaner (should contain 60% alcohol or more)
Masks, disposable or cloth
Bandages of assorted sizes to cover minor cuts and scrapes
Bandage closures, such as butterfly bandages, to tape edges of minor cuts together
Triangular bandage to wrap injuries and make an arm sling
Elastic wraps to wrap wrist, ankle, knee, and elbow injuries
Gauze in rolls, as well as 2-inch and 4-inch pads to dress larger cuts and scrapes
Adhesive tape to keep gauze in place
Scissors with rounded tips to cut tape, gauze, or clothes, if necessary. Note that this may not be allowed in your carry-on bag if traveling by air.
Safety pins to fasten splints and bandages
Antiseptic wipes to disinfect wounds or clean hands, tweezers, scissors, or other utensils. Some of these items may not be allowed in your carry-on bag if traveling by air.
Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection in cuts, scrapes, and burns
Hydrogen peroxide to clean and disinfect wounds
Disposable, instant-activating cold packs to cool injuries and burns, as well as for use in strains and sprains
Tweezers to remove small splinters, foreign objects, bee stingers, and ticks from the skin. Note that this may not be allowed in your carry-on bag if traveling by air.
Disposable rubber gloves to protect hands and reduce risk for infection when treating wounds
Thermometer (no mercury and no glass) to take temperatures in case of illness
Calamine lotion to relieve itching and irritation from insect bites and poison ivy
Hydrocortisone cream to relieve irritation from rashes
Sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher
Aloe gel for sunburns
Insect repellent. Those appropriate for use on children should contain 10% to 30% DEET, and 30% to 50% DEET or up to 20% of picaridin for adults. The chemical can cause harm when absorbed through the skin. Don’t use insect repellant on infants 2 months of age or younger. Don’t use products that combine DEET with sunscreen.
Medicine to prevent malaria, if needed for where you are traveling
Over-the-counter medicine for diarrhea. Talk with your healthcare provider about a prescription for an antibiotic you can take in case of diarrhea.
Cough and cold medicines
Epinephrine auto-injector for people with severe allergies
List of prescription medicines and generic names
Water purification tablets
Extra pair of contact lenses or prescription glasses
Follow the same safety measures with the medicines in your first aid kit as you do with all medicines, and use only as recommended by your healthcare provider. Make sure children can’t get into the first-aid bag; use child safety caps whenever possible. Also be aware of volume limits in carry-on bags. Some of these items may need to be packed in your checked luggage while flying. Check expiration dates and discard medicine that is out-of-date. If someone has a life-threatening allergy, carry the appropriate medicine with you at all times.