Whatever sort of travelling you are doing it is advisable to take some form of medical kit with you. What you need in it depends on where you are going and what you will be doing (and of course your own medical history).
If you are going to a resort or mainly urban areas you will need a more basic kit to cover traveller’s diarrohea, pain relief, and minor cuts, scratches and sprains. But if you are visiting more out of the way places that are ‘off the beaten track’, and for a longer period of time, then it is certainly advisable to take a much more comprehensive kit to cover a much wider range of common health problems. You also need to consider any issues peculiar to the type of activity you are doing (such as blister prevention/treatment if you are hiking) or place that you are visiting (such as altitude sickness or malaria).
It may be tempting to not take a comprehensive kit (it can be quite heavy and bulky) and just buy something if and when you need it, but in my experience you always need something at the most inconvenient time and when you are least likely to be able to get whatever it is that you need. It is also best to avoid purchasing medications overseas if possible, particularly in developing countries as you can never be quite sure what it is you are getting. Even in developed countries, the brand names of the products you are looking for may be different which can be confusing and make it difficult to ask for what you want.
General Check List (please get comprehensive advice from your doctor or travel specialist)
|Pain relief e.g. Paracetamol||Sticking plasters|
|Antacid for indigestion||Crepe bandage|
|Rehydration Salts||Triangle bandage|
|Anti-diarrhoea tablets||Safety pins|
|Relief for mild stomach cramps||Scissors|
|Antibiotic for bacterial diarrhoea or urinary tract infections||A range of wound dressings (incl non-stick and waterproof dressings and sterile gauze)|
|Antibiotic for giardia infection||Micropore tape|
|Anti-nausea/travel sickness tablets||Tweezers|
|Antihistamine/allergy tablets||Antibiotic drops for eyes/ears|
|Antihistamine/insect bite cream||Needle & Syringe (for use if dodgy medical facilities)|
|Antiseptic cream||Antibacterial cream|
|General antibiotic for chest, sinus or skin infections||Oral treatment for thrush (can occur when taking antibiotics)|
|Throat lozenges||Sleeping tablets|
|Insect repellent||High protection sunscreen/lip balm|
|After-sun moisturiser/calamine lotion||Nail file/clippers|
|Antibacterial wipes/hand sanitiser||Emergency toilet paper|
|Travel vaccination certificates||Travellers first aid/medical guide|
Other possible items:
Altitude sickness tablets
Water purification tablets
Prescription glasses; contact lenses and solution
I tend to use a specialist Travel Doctor when I travel because they are familiar with the types of issues I will face in the more unusual destinations that I travel to, and give very practical advice around things like just getting into the habit of using insect repellent day and night because although you can get malaria tablets, there is nothing similar for day-biting mosquitos carrying dengue fever.
They also have travel kits of different types that you can purchase (after consultation with a doctor) containing all the usual first aid items along with a range of different medications (in travel size packs labelled with individualised ‘prescription’ information). With this you get a Travellers Medication and First Aid Guide that is a great resource in an emergency (or unfamiliar) situation and a letter of authorisation to carry you safely through customs in countries where medications may cause an issue. Also they provide you a vaccination record to take with you which gives certification of key vaccinations such as Yellow Fever.
Intrepid Travel (a range of different travel styles – see my post on travel styles)
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
Note: After people telling me they had booked an Intrepid Tour on my recommendation, I now have affiliate links with the Intrepid Travel group of companies and may receive a commission if you book a tour online within a couple of months after clicking through to these sites. So if you are enjoying my tips and stories and finding them useful in choosing your own travel, please click on these links and help me to bring you more ☺.