It is always wise to pack a small medical kit with certain essentials that may be required during your trip.

What to Take

  • Doctor’s Contact Info: Pack your doctors contact information including his phone and fax number. Also see IAMAT for getting treated by western trained doctors overseas.
  • Eyeglasses: Be sure to pack an extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses along with any needed cleaning and disinfectant solutions.
  • Health Insurance Information: You should also include your health insurance information.
  • Prescription Medication: If you are currently taking any prescription medications, you should be sure to bring enough with you to last your entire stay. Frequently, medications that are common in the U.S. may not be readily available elsewhere.

First aid supplies

All medical supplies can be taken in a small case. It is probably a good idea of this is at least partly waterproof and made of a sturdy material so your medications don’t get crushed in your backpack. It is generally not necessary to take a large first-aid kit as you mostly need it to handle emergencies and have on-hand a few commonly used medicines that will hold you over until you can resupply.

  • Bandages: Selection of Bandages, gauze pads, tape. An elastic bandage (such as Ace bandage) can be helpful for strains or sprains
  • Cleaning Supplies: Towlettes, box of pre-moistened for cleaning hands and abrasions.
  • Condoms / Birth Control: Condoms or similar protection – be aware of STD’s and be careful out there.
  • Dental Kit: Emergency kit (oil of cloves, dental floss).
  • Gloves: Gloves & small disposable plastic bags for safety from contamination
  • Insect Repellents: Containing at least 30% DEET. There are newer long lasting non-absorbed formulations (Ultrathon by 3M, now marketed as HourGuard by Amway).
  • Medical Guide: Small guide or booklet to medicine. These are valuable for personal diagnosis and treatment advice. Read it before you leave!
  • Moleskin: For prevention of blisters.
  • Oral Rehydration Salts
  • Sunscreen: with an SPF of greater than 15. Look for those which are waterproof and block both UVA and UVB radiation.
  • Tools: Tweezers (to remove stingers), Scissors (pocket knife), Safety pins (a multitude of emergency uses). Thermometer
  • Water Purification: It is a good idea to bring along tablets for water purification (such as Potable Aqua) or a filtering device in case no safe drinking water is available. Iodine or chlorine may also be good. Vitamin C tablets can mask the unpleasant taste of iodine.

Keep in mind that you will probably be able to buy anything extra that you might need. There are pharmacy-type stores world wide with similar products to the ones listed above. A Swiss Army knife is a great addition to your first aid kit, and some of them come with tweezers too.


These are a list of common medications to include in a first-aid kit, however not all of them would be needed for every trip, so choose the appropriate ones for where you are going.

  • Asprin: (Asprin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen…) for general relief of minor aches and pains or headache.
  • Antihistamine: such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can be used to treat allergic reactions and relive itching from insect bites.
  • Antibiotics: Some additional antibiotic may be useful for travelers at risk for skin, respitory and other infections. Check with your doctor.
  • Antibiotic Ointment: A topical antibiotic ointment (Neosporin or Bacatracin) is useful to prevent infection of minor wounds and abrasions.
  • Antifungal powder: A powder or cream for travelers prone to athletes’ foot and/or other fungal skin problems. Women prone to yeast vaginitis should consider antifungal vaginal creams or troches.
  • Anti-Itch Cream: A topical cream such as hydrocortisone 1% may be helpful for treating skin rashes or relieving sunburn.
  • Diarrhea Medication: Traveler’s diarrhea occurs frequently, you can take along some Pepto-Bismol liquid or tablets as a preventive measure along with Imodium AD to slow down the bowel movements. An antibiotic (Bactrim, Doxycycline, Ciprofloxacin) may be prescribed for treatment. It is generally not recommended that antibiotics be used for prevention of diarrhea.
  • Decongestant: A decongestant is useful for colds or sinus congestion especially during airplane travel where cabin pressurization can cause ear pain
  • Malarial Medication: if appropriate (consult your health professional)