How does one stay healthy when traveling far and wide for a long period of time? What do you pack if you get sick? Given that different places we visit have their own health risks and recommended vaccines, this is an important topic to consider.
Rebecca Acosta is the co-founder and executive director of Traveler’s Medical Service. According to Acosta, there is a fine line between overpacking and being underprepared. She says an average traveler does not pack I.V. bags and syringes even though they may be recommended for those traveling in rural areas.
In 2018, Jada Yuan became part of the inaugural 52 Places Traveler who carried a first aid kit that was built in consultation with foreign correspondents. Ms. Yuan’s kit was so extensive that the Moroccan customs officer accused her of being a drug dealer. But even after her extended travel of 12 months, she returned to New York city with essentially the same amount of medicines she carried in her first aid kit.
Sebastian Modak, 52 Places Traveler, had a similar experience. Five months into his journey, his first aid kit remained unused. However, he says, one benefit he gets out of it is that it offers him peace of mind in case something goes wrong.
Here are some tips on how to pack a first-aid kit, both for extended travel or short weekly adventures:
Check the Recommended Vaccine Checklist
Make sure you are aware of vaccine requirements in advance, as some vaccines may require extra dosage. Moreover, some nations may require proof of vaccination upon entering customs.
Consider Buying Travel insurance
If you are traveling for work, you may already have traveler’s insurance that includes health coverage. However, if you are on a private trip, consider buying insurance that includes medical services, especially when traveling to rural destinations. Travel insurance also covers things like lost baggage and flight cancellations. A good travel insurance company will also provide customer service support number to call if you need assistance in identifying the severity of your illness, and where to find help.
Build Your Own Kit
Ria Misra is the travel editor with a New York Times Company that reviews and recommends products. She recommends building your own first-aid kit or cautiously choosing a pre-packaged one.
Management Vs. Prevention
If you are on prescribed medication for existing ailments, make sure your first-aid kit is equipped for the entirety of your travels. Work with your doctor to compile a list of all prescribed medications, in generic form, in case prescriptions go missing or if you run out of medication.
Make a Checklist:
It is important for travelers to include in their first aid kit medications to take care of simple wounds as well as those to treat stomach issues, colds, and allergies. Some essential products and medicines that Traveler’s Medical Service recommends include:
• Alcohol swabs and disinfectant solution
• Adhesive bandages, blister pads, and bandage rolls
• Topical creams such as Antibiotic ointment or hydrocortisone cream
• Oral rehydration solution for diarrhea or dehydration
• Eye drops
• Insect repellent
• Pain killers
• Antihistamines for allergic reactions
• Bismuth subsalicylate for nausea, gas and bloating
• Laxative/stool softener
• Cough and cold remedies and lozenges
• Pain relievers/fever reducers