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Travel Health: Tips for Packing the First Aid Kit
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Travel Health: Tips for Packing the First Aid Kit

Child at an adventure park

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

When traveling with kids, the first aid kit should feature prominently on your vacation packing list. Yet deciding what to pack and how much to carry may not be as easy as it sounds. The age of the children and any recurring illnesses will influence your choice as will the travel destination and activities you plan to undertake. The following tips will help you get started and put together a first aid kit that is appropriate for your family vacation.

Getting Started
Families traveling with children on prescription or non-prescription medications should pack enough medicine for the entire trip plus two days to allow for any delays. When packing, keep in mind current needs as well as recurring illnesses. For example, pack gum cream for a teething baby and if your child suffers from chronic illnesses, such as ear or urinary tract infections, talk to your pediatrician about getting a prescription filled before you depart. Assess access to a local pharmacy as well as the availability and quality of medical care; both will influence your decision on what to pack and how much to carry.

Pack the contents of your first aid kit in a waterproof container with a properly fitting lid; a zippered plastic bag, Tupperware container, or old lunchbox all work well. Don't assume the kit you packed for your last trip is still safe for use today; many medicines have a limited life. Check expiration dates and ask your pharmacist for advice on keeping the contents of your kit effective and safe to use.

Organize your family's essential medical history in a single document. Include immunization records, medication (prescription and nonprescription, doses and interval), adverse reactions and allergies, dates of any major operations and illnesses as well as the contact details for family physicians. Keep the list with your travel documents and pack a copy in your suitcase.

First Aid Kit Packing List
  • Adhesive bandages (various shapes and sizes) and tape
  • Steri strips
  • Antiseptic cleanser
  • Topical antibiotic
  • Cotton balls
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Sanitizing hand gel and/or latex gloves
  • Thermometer
  • Acetimetaphin and Ibuprofen for fever control and pain relief
  • Motion sickness medication and devices
  • Antiseptic soap or antibacterial gel
  • Petroleum jelly or diaper rash cream
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Prescription and non-prescription medications routinely taken by each member of the family
  • Benadryl or other medication for allergic reactions
Outdoor Holidays
  • Oral hydration solutions or rehydration salts
  • Sun block
  • Lip balm
  • Ointment for sun burn
  • Insect repellent
  • Insect bit cream
Active Holidays
  • Ace wrap
  • Finger splint (popsicle sticks work well)
  • Instant ice pack
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-diarrheal
  • High altitude medications
  • Sea-sickness medication
  • Malaria prophylaxis
  • Water sterilization tablets
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