Packing a DIY Travel Medical Kit

It never occurred to me that packing a medical kit should be part of your packing list… until I injured myself in Vanuatu and needed 5 stitches in my foot.

I definitely wished I at least packed some pain killers to help with the pain I was experiencing!

So when I embarked on a 10-week journey throughout Europe, I decided that I needed to pack in a small travel medical kit. Since then, each time I’ve gone overseas I have always packed a small (and very useful) travel medical kit.

Most of these things are fine to pack in your suitcase and you won’t necessarily need many of them in your carry on luggage.

Obviously, everyone is different with their needs, and it also depends on how long you are going.

Travel Medical Kit Essentials

Painkillers: Ibuprofen is my choice of painkillers because it also acts as an anti-inflammatory. I would probably choose just one type of painkiller, but others may also choose to pack paracetamol as well.

Band-Aids: the are pretty self-explanatory, but make sure you get a variety of shapes so you are covered for different injuries.

Eye Drops: not necessarily a necessity but I think I will need this after long nights and also to help hydrate eyes after flights. I pack one that I can spray straight into closed eyes and that doesn’t ruin makeup.

Tissues: this is pretty self explanatory. Only pack a small travel pack as it should be easy to find more when you get to your destination. Tissues can also double up as toilet paper if you’re in an area with the dreaded drop toilets.

Effervescent Electrolytes: these are perfect for fixing dehydration from sunburn, hangovers, stomach bugs, diarrhoea or some dodgy street food. Don’t leave home without these! (TIP: by getting the sachets over the tablets you will save room in your bag and they will be lighter when packing your luggage)

Travel Size Hand Sanitizer or antiseptic wipes: cleans hands, disinfects and kills germs & bacteria. Definitely a must to pack irrespective of whether you decide to pack a travel medical kit. There’s many toilets that don’t have hand sanitiser at the basin, and you definitely don’t want catching an avoidable stomach bug ruining your holiday.

Cotton Tips: for applying ointments, cleaning ears, and even cleaning away makeup. They take up next to no space, so packing them into a kit is easy.

Multivitamins: you won’t be eating your regular diet and without daily multivitamins, you are likely to get sick. Help prevent this or at least make it easier for your busy to fight and diseases by taking a multivitamin each day. Vitamin c tablets also work wonders too.

Probiotics: If you are sensitive to some foods or have an intolerance then there are some things you should definitely pack. These are also good to pack if you are taking anti-malaria medication as your gut bacteria gets a little messed up sometimes! Make sure you get the probiotics that do not require refrigeration.

Imodium Tablets: you may not need it or even use it, but you’ll be happy you have it if you’re stuck in a hotel or hostel with a stomach bug! When I was in Cambodia, many of us needed it at one point or another.

Tiger Balm: This small little pot will provide a cooling sensation when applies to the skin. It can help relieve muscle or joint pain, and also help with chest congestion. As travelling to different climates and spending a lot of time in the confined space of a plane can cause issues (especially colds), keep this on hand to help ward away any unwanted colds.

Throat Lozenges: with the late nights and drinking you might do, if you get a sore throat you will definitely want to fix it straight away, and those medicated or honey filled lozenges are a fantastic way to say goodbye to that sore scratchy throat.

Small tube of Blister Cream: especially important if you are prone to blisters or will be doing lots of walking (and if you’re properly exploring the sights, you probably will be walking a lot). You’ll be happy you packed this when it means that your exploring is not interrupted by those painful blisters.

Other things to consider packing

Travel sickness tablets: If you get travel sickness or motion sickness this should be on top of your list in your travel medical kit!

Antihistamine tablets: if you suffer from hayfever or allergies, antihistamines may be the difference between enjoying your holiday and missing out on the fun. You may be able to find a pharmacy that sells antihistamines, but having them on hand means you can quickly and easily ensure your holiday will not be interrupted.

Cold and Flu Remedy: if you get a cold during your trip, having some cold and flu tablets on hand can help avoid the expensive trip to the doctors. For a long trip (such as 3 weeks or more) I pack the Lemsip decongestant – sipping on this lemon flavoured drink has saved me a trip to the doctors whilst away. 

Travel scissors and tweezers: These could come in handy for many things, so definitely pack these in your medical kit. BUT don’t pack them in your carry on because airport security will surely detect them and you will have to dispose of them at the airport (yep, it’s happened to me before!)

Prescriptions: don’t forget your prescriptions when travelling! This might be the contraceptive pill, anti-malaria tablets, or a regular prescription. Packing this into a travel medical kit means you know where it is when you arrive at your destination.

Papaw cream: I keep this in my carry on bag to use as lip balm, but it also has many other uses. It can be used for minor burns or scalds, sunburn, gravel rash, cuts, minor open wounds, insect bites, splinters and nappy rash (and yes, I took all of this off the back of one of my papaw cream tubes!).

Aloe Vera spray: perfect to relieve sunburn if travelling during summer or going to ski fields.

Water purifying tablets: You may vist some places that do not have tap water suitable for drinking, and there may not be easy-to-access drinking water. Therefore, you may also need to pack water purifying tablets to ensure that you do not get sick from drinking the water.

Before you travel

While packing a travel medical kit is useful, you should always check up on the countries you are going to and if they have restrictions on bringing certain medications or products into the country. In some countries, you can get a particular medication over the counter, but others you need a prescription for it. You could potentially get in trouble entering a country with this type of medication and not having a script.

Always check these things before you travel, even if you have been to the country before as their rules and regulations may have changed.

It’s also a great idea to get to the doctors before an overseas trip to check if you need any vaccinations or medications for your travel. They can also give you some tips on what you may wish to have in your travel medical kit for your specific trip.

And finally, always remember to get travel insurance before you travel!

What’s in your travel medical kit? Let me know in the comments section below!

Bye for now,


All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

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