Build your own traveller’s first aid kit

We have a shopping list of what to include, no matter where you go!

Take it from seasoned travellers, who always carry a first aid kit. You never know how close — or far — a doctor or pharmacy will be when you’re far from home.

At the same time, do tailor the kit to the need. A Himalayan trek presents far different risks from a Disney all-inclusive. (And do you need one at all for a cruise?)

With these cautions in mind, here’s a shopping list to build your own traveller’s first aid kit.


  • Adhesive bandages. A variety of sizes for scratches and cuts.
  • Antiseptic wipes. To sterilize and clean a cut before putting on a bandage.
  • Antibiotic ointment. For minor scratches, scrapes and bites.
  • Gauze pads. Buy larger sizes and cut down as needed.
  • Small scissors. To cut down gauze, bandages and tape.
  • Disposable latex or vinyl gloves.
  • Tweezers. For removing splinters and other debris.
  • Adhesive medical tape. For securing gauze.
  • Elastic bandage.
  • Sunburn medication, such as aloe gel.
  • Painkillers. Choose the kind you prefer at home and keep in the original bottle to prevent delays at customs.
  • Insect repellent. Choose a safe and effective repellent containing DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Read instructions.
  • Prescription meds. Order enough for your trip and store separately in your carry-on.
  • ID Card: contact info, plus proof of travel health insurance coverage.


  • Oral rehydration salts, for severe diarrhea. Read directions carefully.
  • Anti-diarrhea tablets. Imodium is best known. Read directions carefully.
  • Water purification tablets. If there is no access to bottled or boiled water.
  • Motion sickness tablets.
  • Cold relief medication. Careful, as some can cause drowsiness.
  • Anti-itch cream. 1% hydrocortisone for bug bites or other reactions.
  • Moleskin. Protects foot blisters.
  • First aid handbook.

Ask your doctor

If you’re going to a tropical destination or developing country, ask your doctor for advice. Or see a travel specialist, who may recommend specific shots or other medical precautions, depending on the destination, your health and medical history.