Travel First Aid

Written by Linda Hepler, RN | Published on July 17, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on July 17, 2014

Travel First Aid

Most first aid skills are applicable in any emergency situation, whether at home, at work, or on the road. But there are special measures you should take when traveling.

For instance, because you’ll be away from your health-care provider, you should bring a record of important health information. This should include your health conditions, allergies, medications, doctor’s name and contact number, and insurance information.

Travelers also should check with a physician to ensure that their vaccinations are up to date. Ask about any special vaccinations or medications needed to travel to your destination.

It is also important to pack enough prescription medication. Bring extra in case your plans change unexpectedly. Be sure to stock up on pain relievers for muscle aches, sleep aids to combat jetlag, and medications for an upset stomach and diarrhea, as these are common traveler’s complaints.

Make sure all medications are in their original bottles and labeled with the patient’s name, medication name, prescribing physician information, pharmacy contact number, and directions for use. Medications should be kept with the traveler, not checked with baggage.

If you or anyone in your group has a chronic or life-threatening condition, invest in a medical identification bracelet. In the event of an emergency, it gives medical personnel important information about the condition.

Travel First Aid Kit

Just as you prepare first aid kits for your home and car, you should also create one for travel.

Your travel kit can be customized for every trip. You will want to bring basic supplies found in your standard home emergency kit, but you should also include other items. Consider the following:

How many people are going on the trip? You need to bring enough supplies for the number of people traveling with you.

How long will you be gone?  Prescription and over-the-counter medications should be adequate to last for the duration of the trip, plus a few days extra in case of travel delays.

Where are you going?  For instance, on a wilderness trip, you’ll need special gear, including a compass, a water-filtering bottle or water purification tablets, and a whistle. An over-the-counter antihistamine should be included in case of allergic reactions. And a first aid instruction manual, preferably for wilderness travel, is desirable as you may be far from immediate medical help.

What will you be doing?  If you plan to hike, for example, you’ll want to include moleskin to protect your heels from blisters. If you’re boating, motion sickness medication is a must. Insect repellant, sunscreen, calamine lotion, and aloe or another burn gel are essential for almost all outdoor adventures.

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