Gadling gear review: Adventure Medical Kits Smart Travel

Staying healthy while on the go is one of the most important aspects for us to enjoy our travels. Nothing ruins a “trip of a lifetime” more quickly than contracting a stomach ailment or developing nasty blisters on our feet. Anticipating everything we might need to take with us to avoid these issues can be tough however, and invariably we end up leaving home without the one thing we really need.

That’s where Adventure Medical Kits comes in. The company makes a line of medical kits and survival gear that have long been favorites amongst the backpacking and adventure racing crowd. But they also have a fantastic set of med kids designed specifically for travel that offer everything we need for our next trip in one compact, well organized, package.

Take for example their Smart Travel kit, which is designed to support one or two people on an extended trip. The kit is essentially a well stocked medicine cabinet that you can take with you wherever you go. Weighing in at just over a pound, the Smart Travel comes packed with bandages, gauze, a thermometer, tweezers, medical tape, and much more. It also includes medications to treat a variety of stomach ailments, blisters, dehydration, fever, and other minor aches and pains. A comprehensive patient assessment form helps to diagnose exactly what it is that ails you, while a visual communications card allows you to communicate what is wrong, in multiple languages, just by pointing.

But that’s not all. The kit also packs in a handy 200-page pocket edition of a wilderness and travel medicine guide. The book offers tips and advice on how to handle everything from allergic reactions to snake bites. The book is so well organized and filled with great information, that it will come in handy even around the house. But having a compact version that fits snugly into the Smart Travel kit, is a nice addition to an already well stocked product.
Adventure Medical Kits recommends the Smart Travel for adventure travel through both developing and developed countries. They also give it a thumbs up for travelers on cruises or short term missionary tours. Personally, I think the kit is fantastic for just about any trip however and would recommend it whether you’re trekking through the Himalaya or staying in a luxury resort in the Caribbean. It is simply too useful to leave at home, no matter what your destination.

For those travelers who need something a bit more comprehensive, AMK offers the World Travel kit, which is designed to support 1-4 people. It is a bit larger, weighing in at a pound and a half, but comes stocked with even more emergency supplies. They even have a kit designed specifically for women, which was developed to meet their specific needs as well.

No matter which kit you use however, AMK has built them to be modular and easy to restock. That means that as you use it, and supplies begin to dwindle, you can simply order refills directly from the company, keeping your medical kit always ready to go. This is a handy option for those who want a simple way to ensure that they are always prepared for their next adventure, without worrying if they remembered to restock all the things they used on their last excursion.

The Smart Travel runs just $40, which is a small price to pay for staying healthy on your next trip. The woman’s specific kit and World Travel are $60 and $70 respectively, but come with even more medical supplies.

Anyone of these kits would make a great holiday gift for the adventurer on your list.

Top fifteen items to have in your travel first aid kit

Even if the worst travel-related malady you’ve suffered is a touch of turistas, it pays to pack at least a few first aid essentials in your luggage. If you carry nothing more than Band-Aids, moleskin, Neosporin, and Pepto-Bismol tablets, you’re set for minor emergencies that might otherwise derail a day of sightseeing.

If, however, you travel frequently/do adventure travel/spend time in developing nations, it pays to have a fully-loaded first aid kit. It’s no substitute should you get seriously ill or injured, but its contents can likely stabilize you until you’re able to get medical assistance

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a kit, either. You can pick one up for as little as $12 at REI, and augment it as needed. The most expensive thing is filling prescriptions for antibiotics (just in case) before you leave home. Cipro is really pricey, but broad-spectrum drugs like Doxycycline are very inexpensive.

Below, my picks for travel first aid kit essentials.

1. Band-aids/gauze pads/moleskin (for blisters)

2. Surgical tape
Use it to hold dressings in place, or to strap sprains or strains. A roll of this saved my ankle after a bad fall while backpacking.

[Photo credit: Flickr user ffi]3. Sewing needle and safety pins
Sterilize and use to drain blisters, remove splinters, or make a makeshift sling.

4. Small mirror
Useful if you get something in your eye or have a facial injury. If you’re the outdoorsy type, it’s an emergency kit essential for signaling should you get lost.

5. Prescription drugs
All of your regular prescriptions, as well as antibiotics or other meds prescribed by your doctor. Be sure to keep them in their original bottles, and carry copies of your prescriptions with you.

6. OTC drugs
Imodium, Pepto-Bismol tablets, antihistimines, Pepcid, ibuprofen, eye drops. For women: Uristat and an OTC or prescription for yeast infections. Comprehensivey, these meds cover a wide range of ailments, from food-borne illness to allergies, but reserve the Imodium only for emergency situations where you must travel (it’s a potent anti-diarrheal).

7. EpiPen
This isn’t just for those with known anaphylactic allergies. When you’re traveling abroad, you never know what might trigger a reaction; it’s also possible to develop a sensitivity to things you haven’t previously had a problem with.

8. Alcohol wipes and hand sanitizer
Sterilize your hands, implements like tweezers, even wounds, if necessary. Sanitizer is something you should be in the habit of carrying when you travel, regardless.

9. Tweezers and non-safety nail scissors
Remove splinters and insect stingers, cut surgical tape or bandages; there are endless uses for these two.

10. Thermometer
If you develop a sustained fever of 100.4 or higher, it’s time to seek medical attention.

11. Electrolyte powder packets and Emergen-C
If you’re suffering severe diarrhea or vomiting, it’s absolutely essential you rehydrate and replenish electrolytes. If you have access to Gatorade, you can down that, along with bottled (if necessary) water. I use Airborne and Emergen-C after long flights and at other times I need to keep my resistance up, or if my immune system is taxed.

12. Antibiotic ointment and hydrocortisone cream
Don’t underestimate the importance of these two, especially if you’re traveling in the tropics, where things tend to fester, or you have a coral cut, serious blister, sting, bite, or rash.

13. Matches
Sterilize needles or safety pins; matches are also an essential for wilderness emergency kits. Store in old film canister or Rx bottle to keep dry. You can additionally waterproof by painting the tips with nail polish.

14. Ziploc bags
You never know when these will come in handy. You can make an impromptu ice pack, store creams and ointment in them to prevent spillage, use them as an extra layer to keep meds dry, etc..

15. Mini first aid or wilderness safety manual
If you’re traveling long-term or spending lots of time outdoors, you’ll find this useful at some point. Many first aid kits come with one.

[Photo credits: knee, Flickr user Sukianto; Pepto-Bismol, Flickr user chris.corwin;dressing, Flickr user tiny_packages]

Gadling Take FIVE: Week of Jan. 17 – Jan. 23

When looking for posts this week that fit into a theme, I couldn’t quite see it. In that case, here is an assortment of posts that range from the useful tips to the thought provoking.

And, in light of the new U.S. president, here’s Jeffery’s President Barack Obama: How will he stack up as traveler-in-chief?