Traveler’s first aid kit: what to take with you abroad

Having first aid medicines on hand is a guarantee of a peaceful rest. Isn’t it easier to buy everything you need upon arrival? What to take with you and how to carry it across the border without any problems? How to equip a first aid kit if you are traveling with children? Let’s tell!

Travel medicines: take with you or buy on the spot?

Everyone decides for himself, but there are at least three arguments in favor of a pre-assembled first-aid kit:

  1. The medicine may be needed at the most inopportune moment: there will not be a pharmacy nearby or you will have to look for the nearest attendant, open after hours. In some countries, for example in Germany, a service charge is charged at night.
  2. You will have to communicate with the pharmacist in a foreign language for you (and sometimes for him).
  3. A drug that is sold freely in Ukraine may turn out to be prescription in another country, cost much more or be absent.

What medicines to take for adults?

We offer a basic list of medicines that you can adjust taking into account the health status and personal characteristics of family members.

  1. Medicines that you take constantly.
  2. Antipyretic (“Solpadein”, “Paracetamol”, “Nimesulide”).
  3. Pain reliever (“Ibuprofen”, “Nurofen”, “Panadol”, “Tylenol”).
  4. Remedy for diarrhea (“Imodium”, “Loperamide”).
  5. “Regidron” to restore water-electrolyte and acid-base balance. It is used for dehydration, which can be caused by prolonged vomiting, diarrhea or profuse sweating in hot climates.
  6. Sorbent in case of food poisoning (activated carbon or preparations based on it).
  7. Antihistamines for those who are prone to allergies (Zyrtec, Allertek, Cetirizin).
  8. Pills for motion sickness (“Dramina”, “Betaserc”, “Avia-more”).
  9. Enzyme preparations that will help with overeating (“Festal”, “Pancreatin”, “Mezim”).
  10. During cold season: drops or spray for rhinitis, lozenges or spray for sore throat.
  11. Bandage, cotton swabs, cotton wool, or cotton pads.
  12. Hydrogen peroxide or “Chlorhexidine” for wound treatment.
  13. A set of plasters of different shapes and sizes.

If you are planning a beach holiday, add a sunburn remedy (Panthenol, Rescuer, Bepanten) to your first aid kit. Please note that most standard travel insurance does not cover sunburn and photodermatitis, popularly referred to as sun allergy, so use all available remedies.

Those who go on a hike will need the same Rescuer, hydrocortisone ointment or Psilo-Balm (used to relieve irritation from insect bites), and a mosquito repellent.

We recommend taking an ointment for bruises and sprains (“Voltaren”, “Diclofenac”), several elastic bandages of different lengths and widths, and a remedy for sunburn to the ski resort.

Holidays with children: what medicines to take for a child?

This is a basic list, but we recommend that you consult with your pediatrician to choose specific drugs.

  • Medicines that the child takes constantly.
  • Electronic thermometer.
  • Antipyretic (Panadol, Nurofen).
  • Spray for sore throat (Ingalipt, Chlorophyllipt, Hexoral).
  • Drops (“Nazivin”, “Vibrocil”, “Pinosol”) or saline for rinsing the nose.
  • Topical antiseptic (iodine or brilliant green in the form of a pencil).
  • Sorbent (“Enterosgel”, “Atoxil”, “Polysorb”) in case of food poisoning.
  • Remedy for diarrhea (for example, Smecta powder).
  • Antihistamine. From a month you can use “Fenistil” in drops, from half a year – “Zyrtec” in drops or analogs with the active substance cetirizine, from 2 years old – syrup “Claritin” or analogs with the active substance loratidine.
  • Gel “Fenistil” for relieving irritation from insect bites, treating minor sun and household burns.

How to pack a first aid kit for a trip?

  1. Check the expiration date of the drugs you take from your home medicine cabinet.
  2. Take into account the temperature regime of storage of medicines. You may need a cooler bag to transport them (they can be small).
  3. Leave the medicines in their original packaging to avoid unnecessary questions at the border.
  4. Save the instructions so that you can check the international name or dosage at any time.
  5. Prefer tablets and powders to liquids and sprays. So you don’t have to fit into the norms if you are flying only with hand luggage, or worry about the bottle breaking in the suitcase.
  6. In hand luggage, it is advisable to take only drugs necessary during the flight (liquids should be in bottles up to 100 ml). If there are a lot of medicines, pack the basic first aid kit in your luggage.

How to smuggle prescription drugs across the border?

With standard drugs for headache, indigestion, or fever, problems usually do not arise. The main thing is not to overdo it with quantity. Medication should be as much as one person or family members may need during the trip (taking into account possible delays).

But if you are taking sleeping pills, strong painkillers or other prescription drugs as prescribed by your doctor, you need to act like this:

  1. Check if the import of the drug into the country of destination is permitted. For example, in the United States, drugs containing addictive substances are outlawed: some sleeping pills, cough medicines, antidepressants, stimulants, and even corvalol with valocordin containing phenobarbital. They can only be carried with you if you have a prescription.
  2. Get a prescription with your first and last name, diagnosis, drug name and recommended dosage regimen. The document must be signed by the attending physician and the head physician, then certified by the seal of the medical institution and translated into English.
  3. Transport medicines in their original packaging, with instructions attached.
  4. Declare them at the arrival airport.

How to buy medicines in another country?

Most often, to buy a prescription drug, you need a prescription from a local doctor (in some places “our” recipes with translation are accepted, but you should not count on it). Where can I get my medicine while traveling? See any doctor, pay for an appointment and get a prescription. If you have an insurance policy, the visit must be agreed with the insurer by calling the 24-hour line. It will be paid only if the illness arose after signing the contract with the insurance company.

Medicines for headaches, diarrhea, nasal drops, and antipyretic drugs are available without a prescription in most countries. Keep in mind that they can be called differently – write down the international non-proprietary name (indicated in the instructions in Latin) and show it to the pharmacist.

Should you buy health insurance?

Our opinion is a must. The presence of a first-aid kit equipped according to all the rules does not negate the fact that during the trip you may need qualified medical assistance.

A policy with coverage of € 30,000 for 7 days from ARX will cost you about € 5.5. In Europe, this is the cost of 2 cups of coffee (and in some places even one). Does it make sense to save? Let’s count.

Simple math: without insurance, you will have to pay at least € 20-25 for a visit to a therapist, and more than € 100 for a day of hospital stay. Peace of mind doesn’t seem to be worth much.


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