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What's in my 1.2 lb first aid kit?!

I am an avid reader of these packing threads and have learned so many strategies, thanks to the travelers who generously share.
I have seen two schools of thought regarding personal preference for what and how much to bring on any kind of trip- including not wasting precious ounces and just get what you need at your destination as one "camp". If that's you, this will be too boring to read!
Edit- forgot to mention that I typically travel solo and that definitely has an impact- in the middle of the night or even during the day I don't have someone to go searching.
Edit because it's related and I forgot to add it here because it's not a physical item in the kit- several lists of emergency contacts, including my phone code for the contacts- I also leave a Google doc detailed itinerary for family ( I like this because it auto updates if I make a change and I can delete as I go so it's not as long!)
I have the smallest size Sea-Summit toiletry kit (a tip learned here!) that I use for trips outside the US. I am fortunate to be very healthy but when something happens it's been, so far, from a predictable little menu of maladies and I know what product works.
Even though this kit adds weight it gives me such comfort it's there- and if I never unzip it once during a trip, then that's a huge success! Covid has added most of the items in the middle section.
Before a trip I check expiry dates and replace anything needed.
Lastly, I don't lug it around with me! I have a tiny flat mesh zippered pouch in which I keep a few bandaids, a safety pin, and a couple of the different meds in a labeled pill baggie for my day bag. (I do add more if hiking. )
Comprehensive first aid kit (1 lb, 2 ounces)
Contents- back side pocket: tiny blunt sewing scissors, 1 needle pre- threaded with black thread, length of white and beige threads, wrapped around tiny piece of cardboard
Back pocket of kit- asst bandaid sizes + sm package of Compeed blister bandaids, tube neosporin, tiny tweezers, little packets antiseptic wipes, bug bite stick
Middle of kit: 3 Covid tests, blister pack severe cold/flu capsules am/pm, travel tube each Advil and Tylenol, blister pack sinus headache tablets, anti- nausea wrist bands, blister pack meclazine motion sickness tablets, tiny blister pack migraine OTC tablets, anti- diarrhea tablets blister pack, oximeter, tiny thermometer
(Note: I keep the dosage info taped to the back of the blister pack)
Front of pack: small ace rolled bandage, tiny roll of duct tape, a few safety pins different sizes, 3 tubes hydration powder
I hope someone finds this useful! It's the first thing I do to start getting ready :)

Posted by
15545 posts

You do what makes you happy.

However, much of what you take is available all over Europe. I bring many of the things you mention but just enough to get me started. Then, if I need more, I pop into a drugstore or grocery and pick them up.

With each item in my first aid pouch I ask myself......"it's midnight. I need XXX. Do I need it right away or can I get it in the morning?"

The only things I tqke extra of are what I know I can't get in Europe....Pepto Bismol (not available except in the UK) and Naproxen Sodium/Alleve (by prescription only.)

I find I rarely need most of it.

Posted by
7393 posts

Hi, I love when people share exactly what they bring, so thank you! I don’t bring a needle and thread, but what a great idea to thread it first!

I am one of those tenacious light packers, so here’s what non-meds I bring in a sandwich Ziploc bag that stays in my suitcase.
6 AlkaSeltzer severe cold packets
A blister package (12) of Sinus decongestant
Anti-diarrhea blister pack (luckily, never needed these!)
A small roll of Rolaids - the magnesium helps if my leg aches at night.
A few bandaids. I finally replaced the ones that were so worn but never used.
Some papertape wrapped around a golf pencil - a new addition this year. I think Pam mentioned it.

I don’t carry any of this with me during the day since my B&B’s are in the historical center. I guess I should throw a bandaid in my purse today….in Italy. : )

I do keep a little plain bar of soap from a hotel in a Ziploc snack bag. If I needed to wash a cut, I don’t want to use the liquid shower gel at most places now.

Posted by
11443 posts

I, too, love a comprehensive list of contents. My approach is similar and all revisited before each trip. After carrying Imodium in my carryon for years and never using it, I put it in the checked bag, Wouldn’t you know that was the 9-hour flight where my hubby had diarrhea!

My list varies (e.g., no COVID tests as they are easy to obtain) and like Frank, I assess how likely I need something immediately (Imodium on the flight!) or how available it is. I do take a pulse oximeter these days and still pack a sheet of moleskin. We haven’t had blisters in many many years, but that stuff is harder to find abroad.

Posted by
4985 posts

...it gives me such comfort it's there- and if I never unzip it once during a trip, then that's a huge success!

Better to have it and not need it than the other way around. We also take a small kit, but our's has a few different things. Of course, everyone's kit will be different. Regardless, it's always a good idea to have a few things on hand.

Posted by
8587 posts

I don't take much first aid stuff, but I do take a roll of sport tape aka athletic tape. The kind people use to wrap their ankles., not the common white bandage tape. I use it in lieu of moleskin. It sticks to sweaty skin just as well, although pulling it off is painful. It has other uses, from taping down cables, patching holes in luggage, and other temporary repairs.

There's an ointment called Calmoseptine a nurse friend recommended in lieu of neosporin. It's used in wound management and really sticks and lasts a long time. It comes in little single use packets as well as tubes.

Posted by
343 posts

Thanks for your breakdown Bon voyage. I packed most of what you had last summer, minus the motion sickness items. I also packed a blister pack of Benadryl for any mosquito bite, etc problems and Dulcolax/ colace. The one item we really went through was the pack of various size moleskin and a cut to size moleskin packet. Going in June the temps in London were warm and with so much walking we really avoided blisters by using it. The only thing we needed more of at a Boots stop was lip balm. I didn’t weigh my stuff but it couldn’t have been much, and like you, I liked knowing I was prepared. I am planning on cutting back on toiletries next trip and buying there.

Posted by
571 posts

As someone who gets migraines, has challenges with rich food, gets respiratory viruses when travelling, twists an ankle now and then, I am like you and I most definitely bring what I need. I’m not terribly interested in trying to track down equivalents of non prescription meds; when I need them, I need them. Plus I know what works and medication formulas are not necessarily the same globally. And having my small ankle brace has been helpful a few times. Thanks for this list!

FAK (First Aid Kit)
I like to use cheap zip-mesh small pouches available on Amazon. Somewhat transparent. Lie flat. Different sizes with different color borders.

I like these for FAK.s.

I have also used small, snap shut, transparent red soap dish from dollar store and Amazon for FAK.
I use the teeny tiny zip-lock pill bags from Walgreens. That way, I can carry a small quantity on pills rather than the whole container.
Band-AIDS are a must.

Posted by
8512 posts

I think the idea of "I'll just pick it up over there" works best if you are traveling with someone else. If you are solo and you are ill, going out and looking for a pharmacy to pick up meds is going to be more of a challenge. I bring a small amount of meds that I might need. I put them in the small medication size ziplock bags and label them. I put a photocopy of the packaging for dosage in the bag as well. I mentally sort them into categories. Pain relief: Advil and Tylenol; GI issues: Bonine, Tums, Lomotil, small package of Benefiber. Allergies/Stings: Cortisone, Benedryl , and insect repellant wipes. Cuts/Blisters: Bandaids, steri-strips, Glacier Gel. A few gauze pads and self sticking flexible tape (like when you have your blood drawn). Covid kit: very small bag with 2 tests, some dayquill/nyquill, disposable strip thermometers and some masks. I find that this covers almost every issue I have had when traveling and doesn't take up a great deal of room.

A word of caution with pre-filled first aid kits like this. You do want to be aware of any medication import restrictions for the countries you are visiting. For example cold medications or Benedryl may be prohibited in some countries (Japan comes quickly to mind).

Posted by
343 posts

Carol, thanks for the heads up about checking otc kind of meds with different countries’ restrictions. I hadn’t thought of that, just assumed they would be acceptable if they were marked and in their packaging. Good information to know!

Posted by
4426 posts

I take plenty of Tylenol PM because the Paracetaminol(sp) PM available other countries did not work as well for me. Also, toothpaste stops itching of mosquito bites! I also take a small tube of Neosporin.

Posted by
14157 posts

I agree with Carol on perhaps needing to be more prepared if you are a solo traveler.

I AM the paper tape girl! It replaced moleskin years ago thanks to my brother, a forester. He has weird feet, lol and could never get boots needed in the Idaho woods to fit right. He started using paper tape many years ago because it tears easily in the field and also will stay on in the shower (or creek crossings)! It works best as a preventive but then so does moleskin. It peels off way easier than moleskin or other tape.

I bring most of what others bring - including the SeaBands for nausea in case some kind of boat ride is on the itinerary. I've used it in planes as well if there is a lot of turbulence. One of the folks at our CdA/Spokane meet up who is a martial artist confirmed that they work on an accupressure point for calming. If I know some kind of sea journey is in store, I've also started packing some ginger chews which help as well.

Thanks for starting this thread. Always interesting and always get some good ideas for future trips.

Posted by
3196 posts

I’ve never thought of weighing my First Aid kit as it’s coming along no matter what!
Except for the oximeter, I have most of the same things in my kit as the OP, and am also of the opinion that when I need something I need it right now, so I’m bringing it with me.
I don’t want to be going out to look for a pharmacy in a hurry.
One thing I also bring is a small ziploc bag of table salt….really helps a sore throat when you gargle with some in warm water.
I’ve become sick on trips to Europe twice, no…three times!, and was very glad to have what I needed with me!
In my day bag I always carry a handful of bandaids.

Posted by
15545 posts

For those who might want to cut back on the amount of items you take, there is a company that sells individual doses of almost everything:

http://www.minimus.biz

All they do is sell travel size items. I've shopped with them many times.

Posted by
14157 posts

@S J …. What works well for a gargle are the premixed packets of salt for neti pot/nasal irrigation users. You’d probably have to buy too many of them for just occasional gargle usage but I use a neti pot every day, especially when traveling, so have them to hand anyway.

Posted by
530 posts

I try to keep it simple and treat the following:
- Cuts & bruises (bandages, Neosporin, Quikclot, moleskin)
- Stomach issues (Pepto, Imodium, Prilosec, Tums)
- Head issues (Tylenol)
- Allergy & Cold issues (Benadryl, Sudafed, Zicam, NyQuil tablets)
- Muscle issues (Ibuprofen, Salonpas patches)
- Eyedrops & earplugs

Posted by
26 posts

I always pack 2-3 glylcerin suppositories (wrap up in saran) for constipation. Works fast without side effects. Maybe TMI but works well!

Posted by
983 posts

Thank you for your post. There are some really good ideas to add to my list, especially the use of paper tape and a thermometer.

While I find it easy in general to get first aid supplies in Europe, like many of the posters, I do bring more when I am traveling alone. I have been ill as a solo traveler and it is nice to have something handy versus going to a pharmacy.

Posted by
512 posts

This is so interesting to me. When I started traveling solo for weeks at a time, I made up a small FAK and included a few Tylenol, cold meds as well as bandages etc., but what I've found is that the only thing I've ever used from my kit is the moleskin. I rarely take medicine at home, so I had to buy all these different meds and now I'd imagine everything is expired. I'm actually rethinking the whole FAK idea since I hate to spend more money on things I almost never use and then end up wasting them, but the flip side is that I'd hate to need something and not be able to get it.

Posted by
3240 posts

Thanks Frank II for your recommendation for Minimus.biz. Saves on the excess!

Posted by
99 posts

Thank you, everyone! I often learn something new thanks to the Forum responses!
(As in: taking glycerin suppositories!)
I've enjoyed reading what others bring (if even anything at all) and it's clear given our different health situations customizing a "kit" vs a pre-made purchased option is important.
It was here years ago I learned about bringing a tiny roll of duct tape and using just the blister packs vs the box.
As far as added expense, for the most part the items are just what I have at home, anyway, and I use that to equip my own kit. That online resource for small amounts of stuff is awesome, I have it bookmarked.
Happy and healthy travels!

Posted by
645 posts

I use a small, 8 compartment pill organizer. I keep it stocked so it's easy to grab for weekend trips. It's all labeled, and I do carry a single sheet with the prescriptions and more detailed instructions when we travel to Europe. The last time we needed to buy Imodium in Europe it wasn't an easy process.

Thanks for sharing your tips!

Posted by
18519 posts

Even though this kit adds weight it gives me such comfort it's there

And that’s the key. Nothing else is more important.

tiny blunt sewing scissors,

I did see these confiscated very recently. Then we go on the flight and they gave us metal knives with the meal. The individual that lost the scissors was not happy when she saw the knife.

1 needle pre- threaded with black thread

Great for stitching up cuts and lacerations

Middle of kit: 3 Covid tests, blister pack severe cold/flu capsules
am/pm, etc ,,,,,,

I know I can buy it where ever I am going but I love the idea of at least a 2 day supply so I can choose when I go shopping. And in a lot of Europe this stuff has to be purchased at a pharmacy .... language issues can be difficult an brand names can be confusing.

Front of pack: small ace rolled bandage

To protect the wound you stitched up

I hope someone finds this useful! It's the first thing I do to start
getting ready :)

Very. I do similar, but smaller quantities maybe because I am under a pound. All goes in a zip lock.

Posted by
530 posts

I rarely take medicine at home, so I had to buy all these different meds and now I'd imagine everything is expired. I'm actually rethinking the whole FAK idea since I hate to spend more money on things I almost never use and then end up wasting them, but the flip side is that I'd hate to need something and not be able to get it.

Keep in mind, as you look to manage what medications to keep in a reasonable kit, some OTC meds sold overseas are either highly limited, limited in dosages or, just not available. I think the most reasonable contingency to deal with when traveling is intestinal issues..food poisoning, upset stomach, the runs, constipation,etc..

Pepto-Bismol is not avialble in the EU, Imodium requires a prescription.

Meds containing pseudoephedrine is not allowed in Japan.
Benadryl is another controlled med; its available but nowhere close to the accessibility seen in the US
Tylenol PM is usually sold in lower dosages overseas than in the US, same also with most cold & cough medications. Sometimes your body has a hard time adapting to all the changes involved with travel, cold symptoms start to show up as your immunity takes the initial hit, having some medication readily available to take in the evening is a big help and doesn't derail your itinerary.

Posted by
15545 posts

One small correction...Imodium (also known by its active ingredient Loperamide) is available OTC in the EU. I've seen it on shelves. (Some individual countries may require a prescription.)

However, pyrithiione zinc and selenium sulfide, two active ingredients in most dandruff shampoos, is not allowed to be sold in the EU. (This is a correction from what I wrote previously.)

What I've also found in many countires are two types of what American's call drug stores. One that is like a Walgreens/CVS but without a pharmacy. The other is an actual pharmacy. The pharmacy usually carries some OTC products that are not carried in the other.

Posted by
395 posts

However, pyrithiione zinc and selenium sulfide, two active ingredients in most dandruff shampoos, are banned in the EU.

Frank II--banned as in not sold in the EU, or banned as in my husband's Head & Shoulders could be confiscated? I'm having trouble finding an answer to that online as one of the ingredients seems to be banned because it might cause harm to people and the other because it might cause harm to the environment.

Posted by
99 posts

This raises a potentially complicated question, because so many people decant full-size products into the containers for compliance with the required 3-1-1 bags. Others have mentioned pills and vitamins in baggies, etc.
So, if you transfer the Head and Shoulders into an unlabeled 3 oz travel bottle, then what?! I'm more familiar with problematic food ingredients than personal care, but this gets challenging!

Posted by
413 posts

One item I like for hiking that wasn’t mentioned yet is wool. Loose wool that dancers use to wrap around their toes. I weave a small bit of this around my toes and it works. It has to get tossed after and does sometimes stick to the wool socks a bit but I like it better than bandaids or other such sticky things.

I will put a word of warning here as I’m now nursing a sunburn on my face that I haven’t had since I was a kid- if you buy any personal product on that particular shopping website, test it well at home first. You don’t want to find out on vacation that the product being sold is a fake. Or just shop local or from sources you know you can trust.

Posted by
18519 posts

What I've also found in many countires are two types of what
American's call drug stores. One that is like a Walgreens/CVS but
without a pharmacy. The other is an actual pharmacy. The pharmacy
usually carries some OTC products that are not carried in the other.

Here in Hungary we have DM and Rossmann that sell beauty supplies, toilet paper, soaps, vitamins but thats it. Absolutely no over the counter meds. All of those you have to go to a pharmacy for. You walk up and tell the pharmacist what is hurting and the pharmacist makes a recommendation then gets it from a secure area and sells it to you. Not real convenient.

We also dont have all the same drugs that are available in other countries. I have one particular medicine not available here, but is available in Austria. Apparently prescriptions are good across the EU so i hire a service that makes weekly runs to Austria to pickup meds. Add 4.000 forints to the cost of 3 months of meds.

Posted by
15545 posts

Frank II--banned as in not sold in the EU,

It can't be sold in the EU as there may be a llnk to cancer. You can bring it in.

I corrected my post.

So, if you transfer the Head and Shoulders into an unlabeled 3 oz travel bottle, then what?! I'm more familiar with problematic food ingredients than personal care, but this gets challenging!

I understand your confusion. But it is really simple.

You are not allowed to take any container in your carry on that is more than 100ml/3.4 oz. If it is a medical necessity and larger than that, you may be able to take it on. It is up to the TSA agent at your screening lane.

So, the Head and Shoulders in a 3 oz bottle is fine. A 6 oz bottle half full is not. Why....because TSA does not have the time or capability of measuring how much is in that larger bottle. It's easier, and faster, to just limit the size of the bottle.

I have found very few countries that ban ingredients in OTC products from being brought in even though they aren't sold there. Except for Japan.

Posted by
1302 posts

I clearly need to pack eye medication as I initially read the thread title as ‘What’s in my 12 lb first aid kit?’ thinking “that seems a bit excessive”!

Posted by
530 posts

I clearly need to pack eye medication as I initially read the thread title as ‘What’s in my 12 lb first aid kit?’ thinking “that seems a bit excessive”!

LOL
That brings up a good issue....how many people pack back-up pair of eye-glasses? or, extra contacts?

Posted by
453 posts

I always bring an extra pair of prescription glasses. I have progressives, and while I probably could muddle through with a pair of OTC readers if need be, the extra pair of prescription glasses don't take up much room so I bring them along.

Posted by
413 posts

I wear daily contacts so I pack extra (5 days' worth) as well as my prescription glasses for early morning and night. I usually take extra reading glasses in case I lose or break...I had three this time and came home with 1 pair as I did both. Thankfully, both were well-worn, scratched and marred pairs I used in transit. I only needed the remaining better pair for a couple of days at the end of the trip.