Welcome to Day 19 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.
Today’s topic is all about a little something that many people overlook when they first start adventuring: the essential travel medical kit. We knew we wanted to prepare the essential list for you ladies, but after further inspection, we’ve decided that there are too many variables in order to be able to give one, finite list. Some women may require extra medications and have other health issues (chronic allergies perhaps) that cause their medical kit to expand, while some ladies might simply be heading across country for a quick 2-week tour of a major city.
Since we can’t give you one fail-safe packing list, we are going to give you several recommended items, plus a few tips that can help you to minimize what you actually decide to pack.
You’ll want to put a little time into this task. Why? Because a good traveler is always prepared.
Evaluate Needs According to Trip Style
Part of this 30 days project has been for you to recognize your trip style and preferred destinations. These will obviously impact the amount and types of products that will need to go into your medical kit. Taking a road trip to major cities across the USA? Chances are you won’t need to pack much into your medical kit since pharmacies and doctors will be accessible (and understandable). Heading to the remote wilds of Central Asia or Mongolia? Then you want to have a mini pharmacy in your bag at all times.
In the same light, those heading to the wilderness for camping and hiking will likely want a good medical kit that can get them by several hours or days should an emergency arise. People heading to countries where medical treatments and medicine can be seen as “less regulated” will want to be as prepared as possible, and within good reason of course. And, if you’re just heading to a destination where English is not widely spoken, then you will probably want to lessen the chance of pharmacy or doctor confusion by having some supplies with you for your basic needs. Think colds and female issues.
Evaluate Needs According to Personal Health
Before setting off on your travels, you really need to think about your own personal issues and the likelihood that you will need something important in a random country abroad.
For example, are you a female that gets more frequent UTIs? You better pack some medicine for that. Do you tend to get the dreaded yeasty beast on occasion? Yes, pack medicine for that, too! The last thing you want on your Euro Adventure is to be stuck in a doctor’s office getting your hoo-hah checked out by someone you can barely understand!
The Basic Kit
For shorter jaunts, city-bound, your travel medical kit might consist solely of some aspirin, pepto and band-aids. Here are the items to consider:
Pain pills: For the random headache and hangover.
Stomach meds: Think Pepto Bismol or Mylanta. Chances are you might have a few extra drinks, or a few extra servings of delicious food, on your travels that throw your stomach out of whack. Throw in jet lag, and your stomach might be even more confused.
Band-aids: For blisters, shaving cuts and other random small issues that might be in need of a quick fix.
Birth Control: Whether condoms, pills or both, you should always be prepared and stay regular.
Vitamins: A good multivitamin can be your best friend when you travel since our diets often go out the window. Combined with added travel stress, time changes and more public transport use, a vitamin might be just what the doctor ordered.
Extras to Consider
Anti-Diarrhea Meds: For destinations with sketchy food and water. These (think Immodium) can be a lifesaver, but not a cure.
Anti-itch Cream: For bug bites and small skin reactions. If heading to a mosquito prone destination, this is essential.
Cipro: The traveler’s antibiotic. This broad-spectrum tablet can cure a slew of ailments, but only take as recommended by a doctor. Update: May not be the go-to antibiotic, so please check with a travel doctor.
Probiotics: The kind that don’t need to be refrigerated. If you’re in a country that can do a number on your stomach, or if you have to take antibiotics, then these are a great addition.
Antibacterial Gel: For applying to minor cuts and abrasions. When traveling in less-than-fresh locations, a little antibacterial gel (think Neosporin) can make a huge difference.
Motion Sickness Tablets: For boat rides and long bus rides through the mountains.
>>Read more about how to prevent motion sickness here.
Decongestants: Essential if flying with a stuffy nose.
Electrolyte Replacements: Again, essential in places where you might have stomach issues.
Blister Strips: If you’re doing extra walking or hiking, a blister strip can help alleviate ongoing pain and issues.
Wound Cleaning: Alcohol or iodine swabs, gauze and medical tape.
Altitude Sickness Tablets: Certain destinations in mountains can cause altitude sickness without the proper care and attention.
Anti-malarials: Research your destinations in advance so you can be sure to stock up on the correct type of anti-malarial pills. Insect repellent is also important in these destinations.
>>Talk to your doctor about travel vaccinations before your trip.
Yeast Infection Treatment: Go for a tablet instead of cream as it will be easier to carry.
Cold / Flu Meds: Only if you don’t think you can get these at your destination.
Extras: Tweezers, safety pins and mini scissors.
Medical Kit Packing Tips
1. Go for tablets over liquids, gels and creams. Pepto tablets over liquid. Pain tablets instead of pain cream. Antihistamine tablets over cream.
2. Go for sachets and flat-packed tablets instead of tubes and bottles. Bottles are the ultimate space-suck.
3. Look for travel size packaging. Ask your doctor for sample size products that you can take with you on your trip. They will more than likely be enough but save you space in your kit.
4. Remove items from boxes, or flat-pack boxes to save space. If your medicine doesn’t have instructions on the individual items, be sure to keep leaflets, or cut out the instructions from the box and secure to medicine with a rubber band. ONLY remove items from bigger boxes if they are individually packaged and labeled. Loose pills are a no-no!
5. Store items in the empty space of bottles. If you must take bottles, use the empty space for individually packed (and labeled!) aspirins and the like.
Only take as much as you will need. For most trips, this is just enough to get by until you’re able to find a pharmacy to replenish.
Always visit a travel doctor before big trips away to ensure you have the knowledge and gear before a trip. It is also important to make sure the medications won’t interact with something else. For example, some antibiotics interfere with birth control pills. These are things you will want to know, ladies.
Take Action: Prepare Your Medical Kit
Take note of your itinerary and think about the situations you might be put in on your travels. Prepare your ultimate medical kit, making sure to think about size and space in the process.
Is there anything not here that you can’t travel without? Let us know.
Join the Her Packing List email community!
Subscribe to get our latest packing lists, gear deals, and travel news by email.