Ask the Expert: First-Aid Travel Kits — How to Be Prepared

  Travel Kits

Dr. David Spees, a family medicine doctor affiliated with Sharp, answers questions about how to prepare for your trip with a first-aid travel kit.

What medications should be in a travel kit?
You want to take enough for the trip, and for at least 7 to 10 extra days. You need to carry those medications in your carry-on luggage as your other luggage may not arrive or may arrive late. Additionally, in your first-aid kit, you want to make sure that you carry some insect repellent for almost all locations.

What do people often forget to include?
If you wear glasses or have contact lenses, you want to take an extra pair or two of contact lenses and your own solution. 

What else should be included in a travel kit?
Other common medications to carry in your medical kit would be for colds or cough — that would be the most frequent illness to acquire on a trip to the Far East. Also carry medication for both constipation or diarrhea, constipation being quite likely in addition to the possibility of diarrhea in the developing world.

In terms of contraception, you want to make sure that you have plenty for the trip and if there’s many times zone changes then continue to take it on your regular schedule. As far as other medications or things to have in your first-aid kit, you would want to take something for aches and pains — probably acetaminophen — and then some moleskin for any foot problems.

What should I know about packing insect repellant?
In terms of insect repellent and avoidance, it’s always good idea to apply a 20 to 50 percent application of Deet to any exposed skin when you’re going into a area with mosquitoes. In addition, you can now purchase Permethrin in most sporting goods stores in the fishing section or an outdoors stores that you apply to your clothes before the trip and that will lower your risk of being bit by a mosquito by 50 percent.

What should I do if I get sick abroad?
The first thing you would think about doing is to call your own primary care provider or if you have a specialist involved in your care to call them and ask them what you might do or what might be needed.

For More Information
To learn more or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about travel medicine, visit Travel Medicine in Adult Health or read the Travel Health News archive.

Dr. David Spees  
About the Expert
Dr. David Spees is a family medicine doctor affiliated with Sharp.