Travel safety is too important to leave to chance; it’s best to take with you enough commonsense supplies to cover any basic medical situations that might arise. There are several commercial traveler’s medical kits available, but building one yourself is easy, inexpensive, and tailored to you. Call it affordable health insurance.
First Things First
Existing medical conditions take priority. Pack enough prescription meds for your time away, in their original, clear bottles, with copies of the written prescription. Narcotics and other restricted medications will need official paperwork for customs. If you have severe allergies or conditions, wear a medic ID bracelet, and pack any antidotes your condition requires.
Diarrhea And Nausea
These are the traveler’s banes, and you would do well to prepare for them. Pack anti-nausea pills and travel packs of Imodium or other intestinal help. Ginger chews and crackers also work well for motion sickness. Oral rehydration salts help to keep your system balanced in a case of severe diarrhea.
Traveler First Aid
Bandages, gauze, tape, triangular bandage, scissors, tweezers, hand wipes, moleskin, eye drops, safety pins, and a tensor bandage will hold your injured parts together until you get to medical attention. Be sure you know how to use these things; have you ever actually folded a triangular bandage into a sling? Practice before you need them.
More medications you might not find abroad: aspirin or Tylenol; antihistamines for allergies and itches; rash cream, like calamine lotion; an all-purpose antibiotic, available by prescription from your doctor. Insect repellent, sunscreen, and aloe for sunburns might come in handy. Clove oil is a quick fix for toothaches. Miss or Mr. Right might turn out to be an exotic foreigner – take some condoms just in case. Does your destination have any special problems, like malaria? Pack mosquito netting, or whatever other special precautions your trip might need.
Fortune favours the prepared. Have all prescriptions and special medication clearances ready to hand to customs. Get travel health insurance, and keep contact numbers and policy details handy. Research and write down the names and addresses of nearby medical centres where you will be travelling. Have photocopies of your passports and birth certificates in with your health kit. Write down the contact information for the nearest consular office. And give a copy of all this information to a trusted relative before you leave, ready to fax to you should you lose everything abroad.
Lastly, find a suitable container for all this stuff. No health kit will help you if you aren’t carrying it. I would suggest a large fanny pack or a simple over the shoulder bag. If you carry it in your backpack, make it an outer pocket within easy reach.
Travelling is fun and exciting. If you are prepared, then life’s little scrapes and bumps won’t unduly impede your travel enjoyment.