We're in your NeighbourWorld

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

How to pack the best First Aid Kit

Travel is great, until it's horrible!

It was the closest to living in a movie I'd ever been. Gliding through the English countryside on our drive from London to Oxfordshire. You know the scene: green rolling hillside, cozy stone cottages, tidy rows of cropland, the occasional castle...yeah, we'd arrived in Camelot. Euphoria was setting in so completely, I wouldn't have blinked if a knight on horseback bounded over the next knoll. We pulled roadside to fully indulge in the moment. Sitting on a little outcropping, we watched the horizon silently in our respective thoughts, absorbing the magic. And...as it turned out, a few extra things.

As we stood to leave, I felt a wave of pain in my palm which immediately began to envelope my fingers and hand with a powerful prickling traveling up my arm. In a matter of seconds everything changed and I was scared. What is it? Is it going to get worse? How do I stop it? It hurts! David seemed much too calm given the current crisis. He struggled to suppress his laughter in his efforts to reassure me. I eventually came to know that this was Stinging Nettle, a lovely little plant common in England that upon touch attacks with a vengeance. It subsided in a few hours, dwindling slowly into an uncomfortable tingling sensation. But even today the memory of that moment is a daunting reminder of how scary the unknown can be. And how quickly a moment can change when you get hurt or sick.

The thing is, every part of the world has its own version of the Good, Bad, and the Ugly. Everything from a harmless nuisance to a dangerous threat. Identifying and preparing for the unknown makes a powerful difference in the success of your adventure. Had David not been with me, I would have (unnecessarily) spent the remainder of the day viewing the inside of an emergency room. And it is much harder to find magic in that.

So, how do you prepare for a trip around the world?

First stop: our local travel clinic. There we got the list of the ugliest, and what to do about them. See blog article: Vaccinations for a chart and details. Save yourself the 2 hour consultation on travel vaccinations.

For the minor (Bad) but scary stuff: I found that other travelers offer the most accurate information on current local hazards and helpful tips. After all, they're living it. So, we did our research.

Reading blogs and speaking personally with many long-term travelers we collected a ton of helpful tips to make a first aid kit that puts any store bought version to shame! You won't find this combination of medical needs together for sale. You simply have to make your own.

Below, the complete list of the contents. Remember, you can easily find refills in major cities, so don't worry about carrying the actual quantity you need for a long duration. Creating the initial kit is the hardest part and the work has been done for you!

Daily Medical/ First Aid Pack Contents

Item Use Quantity To Pack
Pepto-Bismal - Chewable Take after food at initial onset of stomach problems 8 packs (16 tablets)
Alka-Seltzer and Tums High acidity in food or drink 4 packs (8 tablets);2 rolls Tums
Ibuprofen & Tylenol For minor (Tylenol) or more severe pain or headache 10 Individual packs of each
Claritin Allergy Relief Prevents headache / allergy symptoms in areas of high dust on back roads in hot climates Entire box (take out the 2 sheets of tablets to save space)
Ocean Nasal Spray Use often to clean nasal passages of dust and irritants; prevents headache and allergy reactions One small bottle
Abreva Cold Sore Ointment When initial tingling occurs, apply immediately 1 tube
Valtrex: Cold Sore Prescribed One-Day Treatment Take immediately when notice tingling that precedes sore. You are more easily prone when stressed. Plan for personal need.
Alcohol Prep Wipes Cleaning open wounds if there is no clean water. Wiping can tops before drinking. Individual packets.
Band-Aids; varied sizes Protect wounds from infection or for blisters 10 small, 5 medium, 2 very large
Neosporin Medicated Ointment Great for almost any wound and even for lip protection in hot sun or blistered skin 1 tube
Thermometer Know quickly if you have an infection. 1-battery operated
Ciprofloxacin Diarrhea Tablets Doctor prescribed, but free at Meijer pharmacy Use immediately for diarrhea and keep taking until problem stops 1 pack of 12 pills (full prescription) for each person traveling.
After-Bite Soothes pain and itch of insect bites 12 wipes individual packets.
Insect Repellent 30% DEET Wipes, and Pump spray- no aerosol cans for flights. I take extra due to Dengue Fever
Women Products for yeast infection, bladder infection It is not fun acting out this problem in a non-English speaking pharmacy. Believe me, I've done it! Enough for one episode, you can replace discretely
Plan B Anyone can have an accident, unless you are on birth control - this is good assurance. 1 pill (get from pharmacist, no prescription needed)

Tip: To make the kit smaller, lighter, and travel friendly, copy the prescribed medication details onto a mailing label- wrap the tablets in foil and stick mailing label the foil. Make sure to include the proper name of the medicine and purpose on the label.

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