What to Put in Your Traveling First Aid Kit

Every traveler needs to be prepared for those eventual times you get hurt, bumped, scraped, hit, side wiped, face plant, crash a moto or generally mess your self up. Hopefully these activities won’t happen on one day or even in one month. Most likely, you’ll just have to worry about an occasional bump or scrape……

……Unless you are accident prone like me. During one 8 hour jungle trek, I managed to cut myself on grass (who does that), get attacked by leeches, hit my head on a stick while jumping off a waterfall, scrape my legs to kingdom come and face plant while jumping off a one foot ledge. These are the necessary things for everyone to carry, no matter where you are in the world.

Travelers First Aid Kit

Antibiotic ointment and Anti-fungal cream

Antibiotic is great for those scrapes. Anti-fungal is necessary, unfortunately, when you play as much in the wild as I seem to. Or apparently just play with a dog in Phnom Penh. It’s great to slap some of that one those random skin conditions you may have.

Travelers First Aid Kit


After carrying a heavy backpack or walking long distances, this stuff SAVES your LIFE!

Travelers First Aid Kit


Just a fact of life, as you travel, your stomach will get messed up. You’re going to eat things that will run right through you! After a few days, a week or even a month… Imodium will stop you up.

Travelers First Aid Kit


Day and Night cold medicine

Why is it that as soon as you go on vacation, you get sick? Like clockwork! Its never a fun time to be exploring a new city or trekking through the jungle or riding a camel and sneezing like crazy, coughing and generally feeling miserable. Day and night cold medicine will make all the difference and help you get through it faster and easier.

Travelers First Aid Kit


I wasn’t sure about carrying a thermometer, my mom made me take one. And then I got a fever. Since I travel solo, it was hard to check how warmΒ I really was. Fevers are the one thing you shouldn’t mess around with, so being able to tell if you are 100 degrees versus 104 degrees is NECESSARY!

Travelers First Aid Kit

Mucinex DM

Ugh, when you are stuffed up, you snore. Snoring is akin to being the devil while staying in a dorm. Take these to clear you right up!

Travelers First Aid Kit

Pain pills

While I’m a fan of listening to your body when it hurts, there are times when you need to take the edge off hurting feet or a blistering sun burn (or a bad hangover). Some light ibuprofen will help. Also, good anti-inflammatory!

Travelers First Aid Kit


Having an unsettled stomach is the name of the game when you first get to a new country (especially Asia). Taking something to kill the rumbling or settle the acid reflux that might happen makes for a happy traveler.

Travelers First Aid Kit

Anti-Bacterial Hand Sanitizer

After handling tarantulas, monkeys, Cambodia bathrooms or Roman catacombs, you need to clean your hands up a bit. Hot water and soap is king but not always available. Hand sanitizer is the next best thing.

Travelers First Aid Kit

Anti Itch and Tooth Numbing

Anti-itch cream is what I dream about sometimes… damn mosquitoes! After a year in Asia, I have learned the power of being able to sleep without scratching myself to death. Tooth numbing gel is good too, especially after you travel for a long time. You never know when you might have a tooth issue. Make sure you go to the dentist but this will carry you through til you can get to one.

Traveler First Aid Kit

Allergy Relief Pills

I have never had allergies but when I moved to Asia, I started with the scratchy eyes and snuffly nose. These babies saved my butt!

Travelers First Aid Kit


All sizes are necessary, although I’m not sure what those little square ones are for. I prefer the anti-bacterial ones for the scrapes I get while hopping through the forest but all are good. Carry them, you’ll appreciate having good ones after you see what you might find in backwater Laos.

Travelers First Aid Kit

Plastic Gloves

And last but not least, if you ever have to help someone else, use a glove. While I’ll never say no to helping someone in need, I need to watch out for my own health too. Glove up! πŸ™‚

It should go without saying but these are just my recommendations and you should always consult a doctor before taking any medication or stuff!

Stay safe out there and let me know if you think anything is missing from this list!

Travel Notes & Beyond


  1. This is a great comprehensive list. I realized what a mistake it was to not carry anti-bacterial and anti-fungal cream while trekking in Vietnam. This one’s going to be bookmarked as my first aid checklist.
    Natasha Amar recently posted…Kayaking in the Abel Tasman National ParkMy Profile

    • Very true, especially in SE Asia. I can’t even tell you how many times they saved my butt, even it if was just for the mental aspect of keeping ‘clean’ and healthy!

  2. Two things (as I clean away my tears from laughing hard): thank you for introducing me to the first person who cuts herself on grass (i.e. you) and when you wrote attacked by leeches I imagined little creatures jumping at you with Ninja moves (don’t ask me why) lol Apart from that, yes Imodium is my best friend.
    Sandra @ Tripper recently posted…A Perfect Day in BrooklynMy Profile

    • Ugh.. I told you…. accident prone. I have no idea how I managed to cut myself on grass, my jungle guide flipped out and started applying all sorts of jungle medicine from different bushes and plants. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was only going to get worse as the day went on. AND, those damn leeches. The jungle guide put special, magic, mojo anti leech juice all over my legs/shoes and his. Somehow I got a million of them, and he got NONE! Glad you enjoyed the article!

  3. You got a little pharmacy on your kit… good tips though but it might occupy a but of space in the backpack

    • I carry all travel sizes so it really takes up less space than anything else in my bag. I’ve had to use everything in the kit but you should only carry what you think you need.

  4. Hehe. I never travel without a first aid kit. I even carry some lotion I can use if I get a nose bleed (it happens at an altitude) and cortison (I have asthma – I never use it but you never know…)
    Claudia recently posted…Would you like traveling with pets?My Profile

  5. Glad you wrote this – its the kind of thing no one wants to think about, but everyone needs!

    So you recommend that biofreeze stuff? what exactly is it?
    Chris recently posted…Free Things to do in SingaporeMy Profile

  6. Wow, that is a serious first aid kit! Never owned one but I have headache pills πŸ™‚ And maybe some Band-aids somewhere πŸ™‚
    Elena recently posted…JERUSALEM AND RAMALLAH. Arabs and Jews. Opposing but similar. Together but dividedMy Profile

  7. No bandages? I would also add ‘scissors’ and ‘safety pins’. They can be useful for things like bandaging.

    • I’ve never had to use bandages before (thank goodness) but I think you’re right. They would be a good addition. Scissors would be good too, just not sure how I can carry them in my carry on… Need to think about that one!

  8. Good to know. I’ll be packing this for my trip to Australia and a decent first aid kit is a must. This will come in handy πŸ™‚

    • Have SO much fun in the land of OZ! It was my first international country solo and it was amazing. Can’t wait to hear the stories, let me know how the first aid kit works out!

  9. I’m almost as accident prone as you are it sounds like. Lol! Great tips here!
    Cory Lee recently posted…13 Stunning Photos That Will Have You Itching to Visit the Southeastern USAMy Profile

  10. Those little pepto bismal tablets have been a life saver on a few of my trips. No one likes tummy trouble.
    Brianna recently posted…Chai peach popsicles and the Big AppleMy Profile

  11. Wow. I’ve never fallen the least bit unwell while travelling, neither have I ever packed any meds and taken them with me. But your post has just given me an idea, after all it’s better safe than sorry
    Revati recently posted…An open letter to the people of the BarossaMy Profile

    • You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I’ve never been seriously ill, just lots of minor things… which I’m grateful for. Especially after a year in Asia!

  12. I should really have a first-aid kid, I usually only take tablets for a headache… It has lead to quite a few trips to pharmacies abroad, which can be quite entertaining when you do not speak the language and have to imitate what is wrong πŸ™‚
    Els recently posted…Meganisi: an unspoilt little Greek jewelMy Profile

    • Ha! My charades ability has increased a lot since living in Asia. I’ve had to explain birth control to Khmer pharmacists before. That was ridiculous. In broken Khmer and English saying no baby did not work. Showing a big stomach and saying no baby (at-tey own in Khmer) did not work at all. 20 minutes later I was drawing pictures! lol!

  13. Great list. I canΒ΄t live without Hand sanitizer anymore when I travel around India and Southeast Asia.
    Christina recently posted…Active and creative at the WaldviertelMy Profile

    • I’m the same Christina. I’ve heard reports on how they can cause ‘super bugs’ but my mental sanity of being able to wash my hands after using the toilet in backwater Cambodia is worth more to me!

  14. I carry sticking plasters, insect repellent and painkillers. If I need anything else I usually end up in a chemist’s shop pointing to whatever I want!

    • That’s great you’ve been lucky and haven’t needed much. I spent the last year+ in Asia where there was nothing to point at because I had no idea what anything was. Let me tell you, I’ve gotten really good at charades!

  15. Apart from paracetamol for the kids, i never carry any of those things, to be honest i don’t even know most of the products you write about. It’s true i don’t get sick easily and my stomach is up for just about any food without rebelling so i never think of all the things i could need. I do carry some anti bacterial gel/wipes when i travel though always very handy in plenty situations.
    Jameela Deen recently posted…Fun Facts #4My Profile

    • You have to do what works for you. πŸ™‚ I may be a hypochondriac but I’ve been pretty lucky and haven’t gotten sick since I’ve been abroad. I’ve had a few colds and some stomach rumbles but many of my friends have gotten much worse so I count myself lucky. Seems like you’ve been pretty lucky too!

  16. Good tips, however I don’t take any antibiotic cream with me. a good wash and soap should usually be enough to get you going πŸ˜‰
    Linda Anderson recently posted…Ella Smyth – Why you should volunteer in PeruMy Profile

    • Linda, I agree. Soap and water are always best. But when I was in the middle of nowhere Cambodia and I scraped myself on the “bathroom” door (read hole in the ground), where there is no water or soap…. it’s better than nothing. πŸ™‚

  17. Oh wow, you carry all this with you..? This is great, although less necessary if one goes to cities. But jungle – hell yeah! πŸ˜€
    Great post. I also use activated charcoal for troubled stomach.
    Veronika recently posted…Night Safari in SingaporeMy Profile

    • I usually keep it in the bottom of my bag. I find it easier, since its light and takes up little space, than to mime what I need. Even in the cities, it is hard to find some things simply because of the language barrier. I’ve heard about charcoal for stomach aches, never used it though. I’ll have to remember that!

  18. Pain killers and a clove oil paste have been my saviors in my first aid kit (I had some terrible tooth pain during our travel, don’t think I would have survived without those ha ha)

    Imodium is a big one too on my list, though I use a French medicine that comes as a powder and is called Smecta, works super well!
    Great article and tips!
    Marie-Carmen recently posted…A fresh walk in Hong Kong’s MarketsMy Profile

  19. As a nurse I tend to think there are a few unnecessary items on there (day and night cold meds for starters), but most people take way too many meds and pills that they have absolutely no need to, and it certainly isn’t the worst I’ve seen! Definitely agree with the hydrocortisone, ibuprofen and basic plasters though!
    Michael Huxley recently posted…The Elephant In The Room: Why You Shouldn’t Go On An Elephant Trek In Thailand.My Profile

  20. Great list! there are some things I haven’t even heard of (tooth numbing? what is that?) but it’s always good to be prepared. How about needles? i think they’re important too!
    Margherita @The Crowded Planet recently posted…Suomenlinna: sleeping on a fortress islandMy Profile

    • It’s for those times that you have a tooth ache and can’t get it to go away. Temporary fix, for sure! Needles are a great idea as well. I carry a sewing kit with me for other purposes (you never know when you have an impromptu costume party to attend) but they are with me, none the less. πŸ™‚

  21. Very good list, Adrian. It’s funny because I usually pack the same things like you do, except for the gloves. It never crossed my mind that I should carry a pair or two of those. But the cold medication seems to always come in handy (especially if you travel in winter).
    Anda recently posted…The Weekly Postcard: ChΓ’teau du Clos LucΓ©My Profile

  22. Great timing! I am travelling on Thursday and my boyfriend and I are just sorting out our first aid kit. I am taking the list above straight to Boots tomorrow as there are few more items on your list I would like to add to mine.

  23. Great list to resolve those tummy bugs Adrian. To be honest the only things I pack apart from regular medications and hand sanitiser is headache tablets, anti fungal cream and cold & flu tablets. It always seems with hotel air conditioning and close proximity in planes one of us gets the sniffles.
    Lyn – A Hole in my Shoe recently posted…So you’ve booked a cruise, now what?My Profile

    • Thanks Lyn! As I’m reading comments, I realize that this list may be a bit more appropriate for 3rd world travel since stomach bugs are a lot more common there. πŸ™‚ And yes, I always get the sniffles if I’m using aircon! Ugh!

  24. I hate taking pills, but the Mucinex pills were a life saver when I had the flu in China. Boy oh boy are the Chinese afraid of coughing people!
    Mindi @ 2foodtrippers recently posted…Feastival 2014 RecapMy Profile

  25. Great list! Since I wear contacts I always bring eye drops to since my eyes get dry really easily. Doesn’t hurt to have some bandages or cotton either!
    Samantha recently posted…A Look at the Life of Korean Royalty: Changdeokgung Palace and Secret Garden in SeoulMy Profile

  26. I never thought about bringing gloves but that is a great idea! I am going to add that to my kit. One thing I always carry with me is a bottle of naproxen (brand name: Aleve). After a days and days of walking around non stop, one pill before you go to sleep completely fixes every muscle and joint ache you have. Love it!
    Allison @ A Foodie in Europe recently posted…The Only Drink You Need for Summer in SpainMy Profile

  27. Wow great list! I normally take anti bacterial cream and or anti septic cream, plasters and pain killers, but that’s it!
    Laura recently posted…HomeMy Profile

    • You have to do what works for you. πŸ˜€ Good to know that you take anti bacterial cream though, always good in a pinch!

  28. I wouldn’t have thought about the thermometer! I do make sure to bring antacids…you never know when food won’t agree with you!

  29. You know, I would have never thought to bring a thermometer but it really makes sense to in certain parts of the world where illness is unfortunately likely! It would actually be really handy!!
    Alli recently posted…Weighing Numbers More Than Words: How Social Media Can Be Fake and InvasiveMy Profile

    • It’s just a good thing to have if you aren’t traveling with someone. It’s hard to gauge how hot you are on your own.

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