Top fifteen items to have in your travel first aid kit

travel first aidEven 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]travel first aid3. 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.
travel first aid
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.
travel first aid
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]

Top five uses for Ziploc® bags when traveling

Ziploc bagOver the years, I’ve become a bit of a bag lady. I’m always finding new and surprising uses for Ziploc® bags or their generic counterparts when I travel. I’m also a rabid recycler, so I like getting extra mileage out of my airport security “liquids and gels” see-through baggie.

But that’s not the only reason I love these little guys. They’re tough, they’re resealable, and they’re economical, because they usually survive multiple trips. Below, my favorite uses for this home kitchen staple:®

1. Holding a wet swimsuit.
When you’re on a day or side trip, or don’t have time to dry it before catching your flight.

2. Collect seashells.
Make sure it’s legal, first.

3. Safeguard against spilled liquids.
I also place bags on top of shaving cream canisters (secure with a rubber band). Because it only takes one exploded can in your backpack to learn your lesson.

4. Seal off your shoes (or socks) for packing.
Hiking. hot weather. ‘Nuff said.

5. Keep your passport/money/other paper valuables (including tissues/t.p.) dry.
If you’re an adventure traveler, you may find yourself in situations where your daypack (or whatever you use to carry these items) gets soaked. I’ve had to hang my passport out to dry after a.) having to hitchhike in a major storm; b.) having to swim across a deeper-than-expected creek; c.) falling into the water while climbing out of a dinghy in rough surf.

*Bonus: “Have food poisoning/need to vomit while stuck in Marrakech rush hour traffic” emergency satchel.
Not that this happened to me.

Have your own travel uses for Ziploc® bags? Let us know!

Want to cut down on plastic altogether? ChicoBags come in their own little stuff sacks, and are the size of a deck of cards. I clip one inside of my day pack when I travel for groceries or other purchases.

[Photo credit: Flickr user hfabulous]

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SkyMall Monday: Baggy Rack

Living alone has its perks. You get to be as messy as you’d like, you always get to decide what to watch on television and pants pretty much become optional at all times. There are, however, downsides. It can get lonely. There’s no one around to help you when you realize just a little too late that there’s no more toilet paper. And cooking for one is a real pain in the buttocks. Thankfully, here at SkyMall Monday headquarters, I live with my girlfriend and two dog butlers. We can cook proper meals, go into the bathroom with confidence and always have someone with whom to play UNO. What should the lonely among us do when they need an extra set of hands? Mail order brides are expensive, Craiglist roommates usually end up being psychos who clip their toenails in your bed and training your dogs to be butlers takes ages (believe me, I know). Thankfully, SkyMall knows that solo dwellers could use some help. They know that there’s nothing wrong with living alone. They don’t judge. They know that you live alone by choice. They understand that it’s not because no one could possibly love you. They think it’s totally cool that you have six cats who vote for their feline president every fours years. Heck, they even appreciate all that President Jinglebottoms H. Furrykins IV has done in his first term in office. But they want to help, as well. That’s why they carry the Baggy Rack.There’s nothing worse than bagging up leftovers (except for genocide, child molestation, dropping your ice cream cone and several trillion other things). The bags don’t stay open, you get sauce all over your hands and inevitably, you just give up and throw the food against the wall in a fit of anger. Several hours later, after writing about the incident in your diary, you return to the kitchen to tackle quite a mess. Who has time for that? That’s why you need to have a device that will hold those bags open for you.

Think that it’s easy to hold those tiny bags open all by yourself? Never have leftovers because you can down an entire DiGiorno‘s by yourself? Well, maybe you should pop a Gas-X and read the product description:

Every kitchen should have this practical rack that keeps plastic bags upright so they’re easy to fill. No more spilling food all over the counter! Great for sauce, soup, cereal, berries, leftovers...Doubles as a bag dryer.

Sauce is a food product. Soup is a food product. Cereal and berries are food products (that, coincidentally, go great together). Leftovers is a generic category that could encompass anything. From steak to jelly bean gravy, anything can be a leftover. That means that the Baggy Rack is great for everything. Including being a bag dryer. Because we all should be rinsing and reusing our bags once we’re done with all that jelly bean gravy.

Living alone doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need are some dolls, some peanut butter and the Baggy Rack. You’ll never feel lonely again.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.