What to Put in a First-Aid Kit For Travelers

A first-aid kit always sounded prissy to us. Nevertheless, before we started our long journey to Southeast Asia, we knew that the time would come when we will need some sort of first-aid medication.

And guess what?
We were happy more than once, being well prepared with the right medical essentials for some unexpected incidents.

By no means, we are pessimists or challenge our destiny. But while being on the road in foreign countries (or even in your home country), things can go wrong, and you will likely face some situations wishing to have a good first-aid kit with you!

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Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by Shop-Apotheke.

In our opinion, a first-aid kit is an essential part of any adventure! There are excellent commercially available first-aid kits out there. However, we always like to do things individually and therefore compiled our own first-aid kit.

Essentials for your first-aid kit

Charcoal tablets

Charcoal tablets were indispensable for us!

As unsexy as this topic may be, it saved our asses (literally) multiple times. Especially if you try a new food or simply eat much unfamiliar food, the gastrointestinal tract can go on strike without any pre-warning.

Charcoal tablets or activated charcoal are natural ways that can be used in the emergency treatment of diarrhea and other stomach issues.

Painkiller

Some sort of painkillers should be part of every first-aid kit for travelers!

Backpackers and all other kinds of travelers are exposed to unusual and extraordinary exertions, which may cause unpleasant pain.

In our case, we faced some headaches, backache, and ear-infections during our journey through Southeast Asia.

Be aware, that all painkillers have potential side effects. So get medical advice on which painkillers are the best for you, e.g. Ibuprofen or Paracetamol.

Disinfection spray

Being “on the road” already says it all: travelers often use a scooter to get around.

But they also go on adventures, like hiking, trekking, adventure sport and any kind of other fun activity.

Simply the potential to be involved in any kind of accident is high, and the chance to scrape your knees and elbows, or to cut your hands and feet, is very likely.

Every wound, no matter how small, should be cleaned and disinfected to avoid inflammation.

In addition to disinfection spray for wounds, you might consider taking an antibacterial salve with you.

Extra Tip:
To minimize the risk of a bacterial infection, you should sanitize your hands every now and then, especially before eating.

Plaster/ bandage

It goes without saying that plasters are essential in any travel first aid kit.

If you get to have a scratch or you cut yourself, it is always good to have some (waterproof) plasters and bandages in addition to the disinfection spray with you.

It will help to keep the wound clean during your trips.

Plasters
Plasters are an absolute essential in a traveler’s first aid kit

Adventure-Tip:
For the folks who plan to do a lot of trekking, some blister plasters might be good too.

Fenistil

Fenistil was our personal favorite when we had a day on a remote island in the Philippines and underestimated the power of the sun.

Fenistil has relieving effects on insect bites and light sunburns. Additionally, it is good for allergies and skin irritations.

Because it is suitable for children as well as adults, it’s perfect for the whole family.

Antiallergics

Sometimes Fenistil is not enough for allergies. In this case, we also have antiallergics with us.

Antiallergics are inexpensive and over-the-counter drugs. It provides relief from animal allergies, insect sting allergy (like a wasp sting), mites, sneezing or hay fever.

It can be the rescue for many different allergic shocks and even life-saving under certain circumstances.

Emergency antibiotics

Antibiotics are probably the most uncommon advice in this article for a first-aid kit for travelers.

But we had some with us, and they were Anni’s life-saver when she got sick in Vietnam.

How antibiotics literally saved Anni’s life in Vietnam:  
In the middle of the night, on a remote peninsula, Anni got 41 degrees fever and chills.

After some calls to doctors in Germany, it turned out that Anni got an inflammation of the renal pelvis. So the medical order was to get to a hospital within a few hours. But nobody was awake, no taxi was insight and of course, no hospital was nearby.

At this moment, we were so thankful that we compiled a good first-aid kit, including our broad-spectrum antibiotic. In the end, Anni didn’t go to a hospital at all. Luckily, the broad-spectrum antibiotic we brought with us was the right one to treat the inflammation.

Reminder:
For an antibiotic, you need a prescription. That means it has to be prescribed by a doctor and bought in a pharmacy before departure.

Extras for your first-aid kit

Sunscreen

Even in popular tourist regions, there are often no good sunscreens available! We were searching for a long time in the Philippines to find a good sunscreen.

It definitely makes sense to stock up on sunscreen in advance. Especially when planning a trip to countries with intense sun exposure, you should get a reliable sunscreen.

Sunglasses and sunscreen
Sunscreen is a must-have in many hot countries but can have negative effects especially on marine life

Vegan Tip:
We recommend vegan options like Edelweiss.

Eco-Friendly Tip:
Coral reefs and marine life suffer under the great amount of washed-off sunscreen in popular tourist areas. Thailand even had to close “Maya Bay” on Ko Phi Phi Island partly because of too much washed-off sunscreen!

To solve this problem, we advise you to buy a reef-friendly sunscreen or alternatively wear sun-protecting clothing like a Lycra.

Mosquito Spray

Mosquitos are not only annoying but can also transmit serious diseases such as malaria.

stining tiger mosquito
Mosquitos can transmit diseases, especially in tropical areas

Protecting yourself against mosquito bites is essential when traveling to malaria-prone areas. We had different types of mosquito sprays with us in Asia: one for our clothes, one for our skin during the day, and a sensitive one for the night.

Vegan Tip:
Shop-Apotheke even has a vegan mosquito spray from Herbasektos.

Seasickness

If you plan to go on a boat and you’re not sure whether you get seasick or not (or you already know you do), you should get some of those Scopoderm plasters. It relieves nausea and sickness. The plaster should be applied behind the ear and can last up to 3 days. Alternatively, you can buy pills for travel sickness.

Condoms

Staying sexually safe with condoms is obviously important for any traveler. One should not be reliant on someone else but always be prepared oneself. You never know…

Vegan-Tip:
Shop-Apotheke has vegan Condoms from Manix Skyn.

Where to buy a first-aid kit for travelers?

Shop-Apotheke is an online pharmacy with a wide range of all kinds of essential products.

From sunscreen to aspirin to antibiotics, you can buy everything at a reasonable price – mostly (a lot) cheaper than at a local pharmacy.

How to purchase prescription drugs online

For prescription drugs such as antibiotics, you just have to upload your prescription, and you will even get an extra discount for each submitted prescription.

Unfortunately, there is no English version of the website available, but in German for Austria, Switzerland and Germany, also in Italian and French.

We have already ordered some products for our self-aid kit at Shop-Apotheke ourselves. In our opinion, it is an uncomplicated way to put together a travel first aid kit and at the same time save money!

Important note

Especially when you don’t have any experience with one of the medications above, you should consult your physician, or pharmacist before you take them. You may have a specific medical history or allergy that needs to be considered.

For any injury, illness, or scrape that requires more than basic medical care and cannot be treated with the first-aid kit, you should seek a doctor out.

Any generic medication must be kept in its original packaging when you are traveling – in case, customs officials need to check it.

Especially when you travel to countries with high temperatures and coastal regions, you have to consider a few aspects:

  • avoid exposure of your medication to the sunlight.
  • store your first-aid kit in a waterproof bag. Water may soak the paper packaging and salty water may destroy even the plastic packaging.
  • keep your medication in cool places or at least in the shade.

The information provided here is only our own opinion about general travel health advice. We are NOT qualified pharmacists or doctors. This is not a replacement for a personal consultation with your general practitioner.

EXTRA: Travel vaccinations

To make sure that you are well prepared before starting off to foreign countries, there is one more thing you should consider: travel vaccinations!

Are your standard vaccinations up-to-date? Do you need additional vaccinations for your travel destination?

doctor injecting a vaccination in the arm of a patient
Some destinations require special vaccinations

Some countries require special vaccinations (for longer trips), e.g., in Indonesia Hepatitis B, Rabies, or Japanese Encephalitis (vaccination recommendation, according to WHO).

Sometimes, the corresponding vaccines must be administered several times at intervals of several weeks. So make sure you plan enough time and consult a doctor before departure. Ideally, around 4 months before, but don’t worry if you already start in a few weeks! In most cases, this is still enough time.

Check out our post about the 10 best backpacking tips for beginners to read more about travel vaccinations and other tips.

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