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How to Create a DIY Travel First-aid Kit & 28 Items to Pack
During my travels around the world, I have sustained my fair share of bumps, cuts and bruises. Many of these earned whilst having some of the best adventures of my life.
Although at times you can feel invincible when travelling overseas, accidents do and will happen. This is why it’s important to be prepared with your own DIY Travel First-aid kit.
In this article, I am going to share the 28 things you should consider including in your first-aid kit when travelling abroad.
Why You Need a First-aid Kit When Traveling?
Some of you may be thinking “I’ve never used a first aid kit before, so why do I need one now?”
Well, the answer is simple…
A travellers first aid will help you to stay prepared and protected on your journey, and can also help you be of aid to others.
We also tend to underestimate the number of times we reach for a band-aid, a panadol, disinfectant cream or even a cotton bud when living at home.
I, myself, am a HUGE cluts!
When travelling you’re also on the move a lot. Therefore, you don’t usually have the luxury of accessing these items quickly and without hassle, unless you pack them.
Another thing to consider is that products around the world vary.
If you like a specific medication back home, there’s no knowing whether your destination country will stock that exact medication in their pharmacies.
Having your own Travel DIY first-aid kit will be your first line of defence when dealing with cuts, colds, headaches, wounds and infections.
Below, I’ll explore some of the other benefits of carrying your own travel first-aid kit when travelling abroad.
Benefits of Carrying an Overseas Travel First-aid Kit:
1) A travel first-aid kit will help to prevent minor injuries from becoming bigger problems
By attending to wounds before they become serious, you can keep yourself out of harm’s way and out of a unusual foreign healthcare system.
Having to go to hospital whilst overseas without good travel insurance can become an incredibly expensive endeavor!
A first-aid kit can also help you to stay healthy while on the move.
2) You can pack medication that you trust
Overseas, you may not have access to your favourite or most used medications.
You may also need to spend a lot of time finding a pharmacy nearby that stocks what you need.
If you pick up a stomach bug whilst overseas, being able to grab your favourite pack of Imodium from your first-aid kit without leaving your hotel room will seem like an absolute blessing.
Trust me… I know!
It can be very awkward and uncomfortable running between stores desperate to find what you need, with both ends trying to spill their guts.
3) A travel first aid kit will save you money
Many seasoned travellers would agree that the cost, availability and reliability of medication abroad can vary significantly.
This is especially true if travelling to a third world country, or a location that is in the middle of nowhere.
I suggest purchasing as much as you can from your local pharmacy before leaving. That way you won’t have to worry about the cost of medicine abroad unless in need of a top up.
Creating the Perfect Foundation for Your DIY Travel First-aid Kit
When creating my own DIY travel first-aid kit, I started first with this kit which technically came with my car. Then I added my own medical products into it.
When creating your own first-aid kit, I suggest starting with the following as your basic foundation:
- an easy to pack and light carry bag
- Items to dress a minor injury, wound or sprained ankle
- band-aids / plasters
- scissors and tweezers
To help you find the perfect first-aid kit for traveling, I have listed some of the most popular and best value for money kits below:
I will finish the list with my cheapest and best value for money options.
First-aid Kit Options – Cheapest Price
If you’re wanting the complete DIY experience, your best bet is to buy an empty first aid kit bag, and then fill it with whatever products you want.
Here are some popular options you can find on Amazon:
Personally, I’d be too lazy to do this. So I’d rather check out an option like the ones below, which gives me a basic foundation to work with.
2) Jiakai 2 Pack First Aid Kit – ~ $15
This is the cheapest of the list. Best suited for travellers who are after a very small and basic first-aid kit, or are travelling for a short period of time.
- Price: ~ Approx $15 AUD / $7 USD
- Colour: Red & Blue
- Size: 13cm x 18cm (7″ x 5″)
- Get 2 packs for the price of one
- Small, compact, durable and light-weight (13cm x 18cm inches) for easy storage
- Small enough to fit into a handbag or day pack
- Has multiple pockets and compartments for storage – some zipped and others open
- Waterproof cloth exterior (Handy given they will likely be exposed to the elements throughout your travels).
- It zips up flat, so there’s not much room for tablet bottles or bulky items
- Some customers have said that it’s too small to fit much else in it
- Shipping costs (depending on where you live) are almost more expensive than the kits themselves. This doesn’t give you a lot of value for money if there isn’t even much space to include you own first-aid kit items
Based on all the product reviews and comparisons I did, I would recommend the Camo Roobuck 89 Piece first aid kit, given its quality, inclusions and value for the cheap price tag.
For a solo traveller, this would be a perfect starter travel first-aid kit.
- Price: ~ $18 AUD
- Colour: Camo
- Size: 11 cm x 16.5 cm (4.3″ x 6.5″)
- Best Seller on Amazon Australia
- Compact, lightweight and easy to carry
- FDA and OSHA approved – All medical items inside are approved by FDA and the first aid kit is manufactured in OSHA standard.
- Contains 89 high quality emergency supplies including: bandaids, alcohol wipes, elastic bandage, triangular bandage, medical tape, glove, cotton buds, safety pins and scissors
- Handle and velcro strap to carry on waist or bag (hands-free)
- Great for outdoor activities or when on the move
- Water and moisture resistant
- High quality and strong zipper
- Affordable price
- 48 positive reviews
- To be honest I can’t see that many cons for this one
- Mainly looks to be an Australian supplier – not sure if it can be ordered internationally
First-aid Kit Options – Best Value for Money
3) “Be Smart Get Prepared” 200 Piece First-aid Kit
- Price: ~ $80 AUD / $17 USD
- Colour: Red with black trim
- Size: 20cm x 18cm x 9cm (8″ x 7″ x 3.5″)
- Compact, lightweight and easy to carry
- Manufactured by the #1 leading First Aid Kit Manufacturer in the USA.
- 200 quality emergency supplies including: first-aid guide, band-aids, alcohol wipes, elastic bandage, triangular bandage, medical tape, glove, cotton buds, gauze pads, safety pins and scissors
- Meets United States FDA Regulatory Standards as a Medical Device
- Bag is made from a multi-layer quilted nylon material for extra durability
- Multiple compartments for different functions and with mesh so products are easy to see
- Comes with a detachable center pouch allowing you to create a smaller kit for your day bag or backpack
- Lots of info about the first aid kits are available online
- Despite there being a lot of products including, some customers state that the medical products provided are low quality / feel cheap
- It a bit larger than some of the other first-aid kits, so will take up more space in your backpack
- Price: ~ $130 AUD / $30 USD
- Colour: Blue
- Size: 23.5cm x 17.8 cm x 7.3 cm (9″ x 7″ x 3″)
- 37,000 positive reviews on Amazon – of this, 31,000 are 5 star reviews
- #1 Best Seller on Amazon for first aid kits
- Contains 298 essential first aid supplies for treating common cuts, scrapes, aches and pains
- Clear plastic sleeves inside kit so you can see the medical products
- Lightweight, easy to carry case
- The largest of all the first aid kits mentioned – possibly too big for travel. Especially if only going for a short period of time.
- Personally, I don’t think you need ALL of these things when travelling overseas. So may be a bit overkill.
Based on all the product reviews and comparisons I did, I would recommend the 205 Piece First-aid Only first-aid kit, given its quality, inclusions and value for money.
- Price: ~ $139 AUD / $30 USD
- Colour: Orange (Fluoro)
- Size: 15 x 13 x 10.2 cm (6″ x 5″ x 4″ inches)
- In line with with OSHA regulations
- 205 quality emergency supplies including: first aid guide, accident report form, vinyl gloves, sunblock, lip ointment, blister prevention, insect sting relief pads, assorted bandages and gauze dressings, antiseptics, ointments including burn relief, and more.
- Clear plastic sleeves inside kit so you can see the medical products
- Soft cover and quality side zip for easy access on the go
- Many positive customer reviews
- Still relatively small and compact
- Great variety of items in the pack
- Bag has additional space in the event that you want to pack more personalised medications
- Includes skin protection items
- Quite a big price jump compared to the others
- Contains natural rubber latex products, so may not be the best option for someone with bad latex allergies
- Some customers have complained that products were past their use by dates when received
Any one of these starter kits would be the perfect foundation for you to build your own DIY travel first-aid kit that is:
- easy to pack and
- quick to access
What to pack in your first aid kits for traveling abroad?
Whether you choose to get a prepacked traveller first aid kit or pack your own from scratch, there are plenty of supplies you can get. That way you can ensure that you’re covered for every possibility.
Here is a list of some of the key things I recommend packing in your first-aid kit.
Essential First-aid Supplies
- A first aid quick reference card
- Adhesive plasters/ band-aids in assorted sizes
- Blister plasters/ band-aids
- Gauze and bandages
- A pair of disposable latex-free gloves
- Adhesive first aid tape
- Bandages for sprains and strains
- Cotton swabs/ buds
- Antiseptic and antibacterial wipes to prevent infection
- Saline sachets to clean wounds
- Minor burns gel
- Topical corticosteroid creams for symptomatic relief of bites, stings and other skin irritations (eg. Stingoes)
- Hand sanitiser
- Safety Pins
Essential Medical Supplies
- Any personal medication you need in its original packing.
- Anti-diarrheal medication
- Oral rehydration medication like hydrolyte
- Painkillers like Aspirin or Panadol
- Insect repellent
- Emergency Sunblock/Sunscreen
- Destination relevant medication like worming tablets or Anti-Malaria medication
- Antihistamines and any other allergen medications like EpiPen’s
- Medical Extras
- Travel sickness medication
- Altitude sickness medication
- Instant ice packs for treating burns
- A lightweight foil blanket to help prevent shock
- A face mask
Important things to consider when traveling with a first-aid kit:
- Flight staff do not allow sharp objects in carry-on luggage, especially scissors. If your first aid kit contains sharp items, you should pack it in your check-in luggage to reduce the likelihood of having them confiscated.
- If you have a special medical condition (eg. allergies or diabetes), you should consider packing or wearing medical alert jewellery
Here are some examples below:
Important things to consider when traveling with medication:
- You should always check if the countries you plan to visit have any medication restrictions before you travel.
- Always pack enough medication for your journey
- Leave medication in their original packaging including a written prescription. If low on space, packing the label showing the prescription may be enough.
- Consult with your healthcare practitioner before you go. They will be able to give you the best advice on safe carrying practice.
- You should carry copies of all your prescriptions. This will help you to replace any critical medication should it be lost.
- Where possible split personal medication supplies between your carry on and checked-in baggage. That way if one of your bags goes missing in transit, you’ll still have access to enough medication to tie you over until you can arrange a replacement.
- If your essential medication exceeds airport liquid restrictions then you may need to get an exemption letter from your doctor.
There are many ways that you can create your own travel DIY first-aid kit.
You can start with an existing first-aid kit as a foundation and then add your own products to it. Or you can start entirely from scratch.
Either way, having a first-aid kit whilst travelling abroad is critical to:
- Deal with any unexpected injuries on your trip
- Help you feel confident and prepared should you or someone else need help
- Ensure you have easy access to medications you need when travelling abroad
Travelling is all about the adventure and having fun. Don’t let an infected wound be the end of your trip.
Instead, be prepared – pack a first-aid kit, treat the wound quickly and get on your way.