Despite your best efforts, you can still suffer unwanted health or medical issues that can quickly jeopardise the enjoyment of a long-awaited holiday.
While rarely requiring serious medical intervention, issues such as minor cuts and burns, aches and pains, stomach upset, allergies and malaise are a literal pain that needs to be dealt with, pronto.
Having a travel first-aid kit will give you the means to take care of these afflictions quickly while overseas. That way, you can continue enjoying your vacation without skipping a beat. We recommend including these 10 first-aid kit equipment for when you next travel.
1. Medicines or supplements you take regularly
While taking a trip is a great way to get away from it all, that doesn’t mean you should also stop your regular medication or vitamins. Travelling comes with its own stresses – you’ll likely have to deal with dehydration, information overload, strange new foods and an unfamiliar bed. This added stress could push your body over its limits, causing your symptoms or any dormant infections to flare up.
That’s why neglecting to pack your prescribed medication (if even for a few days) is a bad idea. Any health supplements shouldn’t be forgotten too – stopping them could result in you feeling less than 100 percent. Tip: Transfer the pills you need into a pill box with a secure clasp to avoid bringing bulky family size bottles.
2. Aloe vera gel
Aloe vera gel is a great item to have in your travel first-aid kit because of its versatility. It has antiseptic properties, and you can use it to soothe dry or itchy skin; moisturise chapped lips; treat acne breakouts; and heal cuts, scratches, bites, burns and bruises. You can even use it for irritated gums and mouth ulcers.
But make sure you’re getting pure 100-percent aloe vera gel (it’ll say so on the label) so you can use it for all the above conditions. Don’t confuse 100 percent aloe with sunburn cream or gels with “aloe vera added”. Those are meant only for sunburn, and may not be safe for use on open wounds, or when swallowed. Tip: Pure aloe vera is expensive, so buy a larger tube for better value and squeeze some in a travel-size bottle for your first-aid kit.
3. Plasters or bandages
Adhesive plasters or bandages (sometimes called by the brand name Band-Aids) are an easy and effective way to keep cuts or wounds free from infection. They are also great for covering up cold sores or other not-so-attractive blemishes – and those with designs or cartoons on them make these afflictions look way more aesthetically pleasing, too.
Choose a variety pack that include plasters in various shapes and sizes to ensure an appropriate fit. It might also be worthwhile adding waterproof plasters in case your itinerary takes you to wet places.
4. Anti-diarrhoea medicines and charcoal pills
Traveller’s tummy (often just called “traveller’s sickness”) can rapidly ruin your holiday. If you suspect you have food poisoning or gut inflammation, get yourself to the nearest clinic. Catching it early will mean a quicker recovery, giving you a chance to salvage what’s left of your holiday.
Otherwise, if it’s just an upset stomach because you ate too many spicy buffalo wings last night, and your flight home leaves in four hours, anti-diarrhea medication (such as Lomotil) will be your saviour. This medicine slows down your digestive system which reduces the need to go to the toilet.
Don’t confuse this with charcoal pills, which simply soak up stuff in your gut (reducing bad bacteria and/or toxins) and doesn’t control diarrhea – but these are good to have on hand as well.
Although probiotics are more of a preventative measure, some may experience relief of stomach discomfort after taking probiotics. However, on their own, probiotics may not be effective in treating acute diarrhea. There isn’t any harm taking some if you have gut trouble – at most the probiotics will get expelled from your system.
5. Nasal or sinus spray
If spending hours in a plane or exposing yourself to different climates causes you to develop flu-like symptoms, (but you don’t have a cold), you may find some relief with a nasal or sinus spray. These primarily work by moisturising and soothing dry or irritated mucous membranes, stopping symptoms such as congestion and inflammation.
There are many formulations of nasal sprays available. Steroid-based formulas may be highly effective, but aren’t suited for long-term use. They also may require a prescription.
Other sprays feature non-drug ingredients, such as mineral or plant-based compounds, which may be used as often as needed, and be just as effective.
6. Analgesic rubs or patches
So you’ve shopped till you literally dropped onto your hotel room’s bed. All of a sudden, a low, throbbing pain starts in your lower back and spreads down your legs.
This is when you take out the Tiger Balm patches or Ammeltz rub and go to town on your sore, numb lower limbs. Apply liberally and let the sweet delicious heat bring you much-needed relief.
Just be careful with the hot water when you shower, because such medicines make your skin extra sensitive.
Painkillers are an obvious essential. Take for example, wisdom teeth. They can sit dormant for years, and then one morning decide to flare up and cause extreme pain like a heavyweight boxer slamming into the side of your head. And every time you try to chew something, the pain gets worse.
Since it’s unlikely you’ll want to go for dental surgery in the middle of your vacation, the only recourse is to wait till you get home. That’s why you’ll be glad you stuffed a strip of painkillers into your first-aid kit.
What’s a good holiday without wining, dining and dancing the night away? But too much alcohol, overeating or irregular mealtimes can upset sensitive stomachs, leaving you with problems such as acid reflux, gastric pain, gas and bloating.
For a quick fix, pop some antacids or stomach tonics to neutralise excess acid in the stomach and help settle the gut. Look out for single-use packages to save space and keep your first-aid kit travel-friendly.
9. Hand sanitiser and antiseptic cream
Keep a small bottle of hand sanitiser or antibacterial gel in your first-aid kit as a quick and easy way to sanitise your hands before tending to your injuries (or those of your travelling buddies). In a pinch, hand sanitiser can also be used to disinfect a wound – but be warned, the high alcohol content means it will hurt. So do this only for shallow or small wounds.
For deeper wounds, and to minimise scarring, pack an antiseptic cream or powder in your kit. Applying some when dressing the wound will help prevent infections, allowing scrapes or cuts to heal cleanly.
10. Menstrual aids
And finally, ladies, let’s not forget to pack for your once-a-month visitor.
In a small bag, pack any menstrual aids you may be using, such as teas, or herbal supplements. If you take painkillers for menstrual pain, make sure they are compatible with your general-use painkillers. It might also be a good idea to throw in an extra pad/tampon or two.
Originally by Chip Chen, May 2019 / Last updated by Isabel Wibowo
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