If you’re the sort who likes the idea of going backpacking around parts of the planet (perhaps during a gap year), there are one or two things you should consider amidst the freedom of dropping everything and exploring the world beyond your doorstep. One of them is packing a sensible, well-stocked first aid kit. Now, hopefully you’ll never end up having to use it, but should anything go a little awry on your travels, you may thank your lucky stars you took the effort to get this important thing right. But what should it actually contain? What should you pack?
First off, don’t worry; there’s certainly no reason to go overboard with it. We’re not talking about lumping around the sort of gear a paramedic’s fitted out with here, nor should you try to buy out your local pharmacy. What you should aim to do is make sure you have a good grounding of the basics, which you’ll be able to use with practically no training or none at all. We’ve put together some suggestions…
Plasters and bandages – let’s face it, whatever you’re up to in life, cuts and grazes are pretty common, but when you’re away from home it’s important you’re prepared to deal with them by packing enough plasters; also, if you feel there’s a chance your feet may take a bit of a pounding from all the walking you’ll be doing, don’t forget blister plasters too
Tweezers – great for removing splinters and bits of dirt and from wounds; keep them clean and sterilised, if possible
Scissors – you’ll only need a small pair for trimming gauze and bandages; if you do include them, be sure to put your first aid kit in a checked bag when travelling by plane
Gauze – should be used to apply pressure to, clean, soak up blood from and help to stop the bleeding of a wound; the kind of gauze to go for are individually wrapped, sterile squares, which you won’t need to cut up; you can secure them in place using surgical tape
Loperamide tablets – also known as Imodium, these’ll give you relief when suffering from diarrhoea; note: they won’t cure the symptoms, for that you should get rest, drink plenty of water and perhaps consider taking a couple of supplements such as Active Digestive Enzymes (which may also help treat constipation, bloating, gas and acid reflux) and Oxygen Element Max (which won’t prevent diarrhoea directly, but may deter bacteria, viruses and candida and other fungal overgrowth from taking up residence in your gut)
Antibacterial creams and antiseptic wipes – ideal for cleaning a wound and preventing infection ahead of putting on a dressing; only pack a few of them and replenish from a pharmacy
Pain relief tablets – stick to whatever you normally take for pain relief (say, for a headache), so paracetamol or ibuprofen, for instance
Of course, beyond using the contents of your first aid kit, you should seek professional medical attention if you suffer an injury or an illness requiring more than the basics. And it’s crucial to remember that, when carrying medication, you must keep it in its original packaging in case customs officials want or need to check exactly what you’re transporting. Aside from these caveats, be sure to pack your first aid as you see fit, so long as you do sensibly and don’t overdo it – you never know when you may need it!