A question I frequently see asked by parents preparing to travel with kids: what medications should we take with us? What should our travel medical kit include and how do I pack it? Being prepared for your trip goes a long way to helping you feel more confident. And let’s be real, nothing ruins a vacation faster than a runny nose or spending all your time in the bathroom! To that end, I’ve prepared this detailed list of what my own travel medical kit includes. Plus, I’ve made you a handy downloadable Travel Medical Kit Checklist, so you can review your list every time you are traveling. This post will also cover some additional suggestions, depending on the type of travel and destination to which you are headed. Finally, some tips on how to pack the whole kit efficiently and effectively!
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Let me add this disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and this is not intended to be medical advice. In my experience, bringing the following things has helped me cover most basic travel incidents that don’t require serious attention. If you feel that you have a more serious situation, you should seek professional medical attention (and you should be covered for this on your travel insurance, another must-have that I strongly recommend!).
This “Basics List” includes the items I include in my travel medical kit every trip, regardless of our destination. Frankly, I bring these items whether traveling with a kid or solo. These are the tried-and-true don’t-leave-home-without on my travel medical kit checklist for all trips!
- Pain/Fever Reducer (Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen): Very helpful in many scenarios ranging from muscle aches (“I *thought* I was prepared for this hike!”) to a mild fever. If you have very young children, you may want to consider bringing a liquid version also, and don’t forget the plastic cup or syringe for dispensing. I also carry a few of these tablets in my purse all the time.
- Antihistamine / Allergy Meds: Regardless of whether you have seasonal allergies or not, sometimes going to a new location can set off itchy watery eyes or a sneezing fit unexpectedly. Aside from this, antihistamines are helpful should you get bitten or stung by something or eat something that causes an unexpected allergic reaction.
3. Anti-Diarrheal Meds: You just never know when something might not go quite as planned from a food perspective, and there is nothing worse than trying to carry on with a tour, a flight, or any other form of travel when you need to make frequent bathroom trips. Never skimp on this addition to your travel medical kit. I even carry a few extras in my purse so it is with me at all times. Let me add – I know just as many people who have had stomach issues caused by food consumption in fancy restaurants or more “developed” locations as those who have had issues in more remote circumstances or eating street food. Don’t be unprepared regardless of your destination!
4. Electrolyte Mix: I typically carry a few packets of an electrolyte mix to help rehydrate and replenish should one of us end up with stomach issues. This is particularly critical if you are in a warmer location that could exacerbate dehydration.
5. Assorted Size Band-Aids: Pretty self-explanatory – be prepared! Also, is it just me, or do kids magically feel “cured” of injury just because they got a band-aid? Is it just mine? I always carry assorted sizes in the travel medical kit and also keep a few handy in my purse.
6. Blister-specific Band-Aids: These are the best band-aids I’ve ever found, and I absolutely swear by them. Few items on this list are “brand specific” and I am generally brand agnostic, but this is an item that I have tried several variations from different brands, and I think this is the winner. In my experience, putting one of these blister-specific band-aids on as soon as I feel a blister hot spot prevents it from getting any worse. These stay on well and even have some water resistance.
7. Antibiotic Ointment: In the event that you have an exposed injury, antibiotic ointment helps avoid possible infection. Apply liberally. This is one of those items you need to consider size and packaging if you are traveling carry-on only.
8. Motion Sickness Tablets: Some of us are more prone to motion sickness than others, and there is a range of scenarios where it can happen. This isn’t limited to boat experiences either. I include these motion sickness tablets in my travel medical kit and consider taking them if I think there could be an issue for me because realistically, I have found that once I am experiencing symptoms of motion sickness, taking the medicine is less effective. Another alternative is a stick-on patch version that you put behind the ear or on the wrist.
9. Prescription Medications: Don’t forget to add any prescription medications you are currently taking into your travel medical kit, with enough supply for the duration of your travels. I strongly recommend always traveling with prescriptions in their original packaging that includes your full name, the medicine name and dosage, and your prescriber’s information. I usually try to include about an extra week’s worth in my travel medical kit just in case I get delayed somewhere during the journey. Keep in mind if you are traveling internationally: your prescribed medicine may not be legal elsewhere, so do a little research before your travels.
10. Tweezers: While I was writing this post, a friend vacationing in Hawaii texted to let me know she had accidentally stepped on a sea urchin. This is a really good example of a scenario where you need a really good pair of tweezers in your travel medical kit. Do not settle for some plastic nonsense. You need a pair with a good fine precision metal tip that can grab very small splinters, so you can be fast and effective, especially with kids!
11. Hydrocortisone Cream: Hydrocortisone cream is a topical light steroid cream that is an excellent addition to your travel medical kit, in my opinion, because of its multifunctional uses. Hydrocortisone cream can minimize itching from rashes, bites, swelling, mild skin allergies, and general skin discomfort; this heavy hitter has you covered in so many scenarios. Get a small travel size, as a little of the cream goes a long way.
12. At-Home Covid-19 Test Kit: In 2023, most countries have lifted their covid restrictions and requirements around testing for entry or return back home. However, I am very cognizant of health disparity and vaccine privilege. The reality is that depending on my travel plans, there are many places in the world where the local people do not have the same access to health care that I am afforded at home. With this in mind, I still carry a self-administered covid test kit in my travel medical kit. Should I or the kiddo develop symptoms, I want to be sure that we quickly quarantine so as not to expose those who may be more vulnerable in local communities where we are visitors.
Those are the Top 12 items that I include in my Travel Medical Kit on every trip! I hope this is helpful. See below for some further considerations, depending on the type of travel and destination to which you are headed.
Beyond The Basics:
Beyond these original 12 items in my travel medical kit, there are a handful of other items that I add in, depending on the style of adventure and specific travel destination. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your particular adventure.
Are you headed on a beach vacation?
- Sunscreen: be sure to select “reef-friendly” sunscreen that does not include chemicals toxic to the marine life whose home you are swimming in.
- Aloe Vera: just in case you forget to reapply that sunscreen and up with a nasty sunburn!
Are you headed to a jungle-type destination?
- Mosquito Repellent: depending on the location, you might need to consider a repellent that includes DEET.
- Anti-Malaria Meds (prescription may be required)
- Baby Powder/Talcum Powder or a Body Glide: to avoid chafing because walking and sweating are just not a great combo!
Are you headed to a winter-type destination?
- Lip Balm: lips dry out fast and if you aren’t drinking enough water or have some cold winds, your lips can be in a lot of pain!
Headed to the mountains?
- Altitude Meds: (prescription may be required) similar to my experience with motion sickness medication, I’d rather not wait to see how my body feels about the altitude. At home, I reside at a pretty low elevation, so I do anticipate that altitude can cause me challenges.
And there you have it, my die-hard save-a-trip strategy for a Travel Medical Kit. Most of these items are easily available, easy to store, and can fit in a compact toiletry bag. Keep it stocked and packed all the time and you’ll be ready to adventure in a snap. Click below to receivable a handy printable version of the checklist! Is there something you usually take that I should consider adding? I’d love to hear it! Stay healthy and Happy Roaming!
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Travel Medical Kit Checklist Here!
.Click below to join the coolest Roamers on the planet and get the handy printable Travel Medical Checklist so you are always prepared while roaming!