My blog on stocking a home remedy kit has been one of my most widely read posts, so a few years back I wrote about how to stock a holistic travel remedy kit. Now, on a round the world trip with my family, I’m adding a travel first aid kit to that list.
While I still stand by those initial recommendations, I thought you might like to have a peek inside my kit today…see what I could have left at home and what I wish I’d brought more of.
The first aid kit itself
Admittedly, I’m a bit of a dork about bags (check out my bag post to read all about it).
In the end, I decided to go with this Tom Bihn clear quarter packing cube, which allows me to get to the needed remedy as efficiently as possible. To save space, medicine and herbs are stored inside in individual pill bags and labeled with a sharpie.
Classic first aid
Bumps and bruises, cuts, and scrapes happen. And when traveling to foreign lands with foreign bugs and bacteria, it’s extra important to take care of these boo-boos right.
Band aids – While cartoon character are fun, I prefer the ones that stretch and are latex free. If you are going to be in water (surfing, swimming, etc) bring along waterproof band aids – I forgot mine, and had to bum some from a new friend.
Butterfly band aids – These come in handy for a cut over the joints of fingers.
Super glue – In the case of a cut that can marginally get away without stitches, use this on a well-cleaned cut at your own risk. 😉
Colloidal silver gel – A more natural alternative to Neosporin, this anti-microbial gel will help prevent infection to speed the rate of healing.
Ibuprofen – While I may be holistic minded, that doesn’t mean my sphere of remedies can’t include some conventional medicines as well. I use ibuprofen only as needed for pain, inflammation, and fevers.
Benadryl – Again, an only-as-needed medicine for allergic reactions – my son has been known to swell up like a balloon from bug bites.
Dramamine – My youngest and I both suffer from motion sickness, so I’ve decided to bring this along for the occasional long drive or boat ride where bouncing and swerving are not optional.
Tweezers – This technically traveled in my makeup bag. If you don’t usually bring tweezers for your eyebrows, you’ll want them for dislodging splinters or stingers.
Packing for prevention
Probiotics – In our little town in Costa Rica, we’ve been able to find homemade local yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, water kefir, and ginger beer. When we aren’t so lucky, shelf stable, soil based probiotics are part of our daily routine.
Methylated B12 – Based on our genetics, we’ve learned that our entire family has problems metabolizing vitamin B12, among other things. It's rumored that B vitamin deficiencies may make us humans more susceptible to mosquito bites. Whether this holds any basis in reality, we take our B12 daily.
Bug spray – In the tropics, especially during rainy season, the mosquito situation is no joke. So, aside from trying to stay indoors as much as possible during dawn and dusk, we keep a natural bug spray handy and use it liberally.
Coconut oil – Easy to source in the tropics, coconut oil not only has antimicrobial properties. It also works great as a natural insect repellent, has mild sunscreen properties, and is great for after sun skin care too.
Sunscreen – Not sure if I’d be able to find good, natural options while traveling, I packed an entire toiletries bag filled with sunblock. While I don’t recommend going as hog wild packing sun protection as I did, be sure to bring a bit more than you think you may need.
After sun balm – I’m half Filipino. But my other genes combined with my husband’s British genes makes for some very light skinned children, so despite all of the sunblock we slather on those kids, they still sometimes end up pink. A good after sun balm helps to minimize the discomfort and severity of their sunburns.
General immune support
Vitamin D – At home, this is one of our must-have immune support supplements. But with our outdoor lifestyle here in the tropics, it was a bit redundant to bring the sunshine vitamin in a bottle.
Vitamin C – Traveling to foreign lands inherently means encountering many challenges to the immune system. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and antihistamine, which means it reduces any burden on your immune system so it can work more effectively.
Activated charcoal – My not-so-secret weapon against travelers’ tummy, this ancient (literally) remedy binds to all sort of poisons that you may accidentally ingest. It even made the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines. Note, it does not work for cyanide, lithium, arsenic, or alcohol poisoning. I packed two bottles for our first three months and I’m hoping it will be enough for the four of us.
Natural remedies for specific ailments
5HTP – I love this amino acid supplement for coping with those occasions where the anxiety of life become overwhelming. When it’s appropriate, it can take your from “complete freak out” to “life is fine” in twenty minutes or less.
Jia wei xiao yao san – This common Chinese herbal formula whose name translates to “Free and Easy Wanderer” can be used to treat PMS or the same syndrome for the male gender too. 😉
Magnesium citrate – Among other uses, this powder acts as a short term solution to constipation.
Melatonin – In the past, we’ve used this supplement to help adjust to time zone changes for long haul trips. So far, we’ve haven’t leaped many time zones, so it’s just taking up (a tiny bit of) space in our bag.
Cold Quell – My favorite version of the popular Chinese formula “Yin Qiao San” – this remedy is brilliant in addressing the beginnings of a cold, especially with a sore or scratchy throat. I thought we might not need this traveling to warm countries, but it turns out that coming in and out of air conditioning and the ocean can create the perfect petri dish for head cold germs.
Er Chen Tang powder – This classic herbal formula (Four Peel Decoction) is one I use at home for the kids with snot dripping out of their face problem. It’s also good for recovering from food poisoning or a tummy bug by gently stimulating healthy digestive function.
Curing Pills – A classic for upset tummies from over indulging or eating something odd.
Other stuff in my travel first aid kit
Massage balls – Not exactly inside our remedy kit, these balls in a bag come in handy to loosen the tension from days of traveling or correct a spasming muscle after a strenuous day of sightseeing or surfing.
Acupuncture needles – Obviously a perk of my trade. So far, a box of these has come in handy for a spasming shoulder, a twisted knee, and a tweaked neck.
What I wished I would have brought more of…
The only things in my travel first aid kit that I really didn’t need are the two bottles of vitamin D, since we are abundantly absorbing sun rays almost every single day. Some of the specific remedies, like d-mannose, we haven’t had the need for, but will be happy to have should the need arise.
I also purchased this beautiful travel homeopathy kit, but chose to leave it at home at the last minute since I don’t use more than one or two homeopathic remedies in my day-to- day life. No regrets so far.
When I have the opportunity to restock, I will bring WAY MORE colloidal silver, my favorite lypospheric vitamin C, my favorite anti-viral herbal formula for sore throats, Cold Quell, and waterproof band aids.
You can shop the entire kit here.
A practical and flexible approach
You all know that I prioritize food and natural remedies over anything synthetic. But let's face it – if you feel sick and you're somewhere far from home, the LAST thing you want is to suffer unnecessarily. Hence things like dramamine, ibuprofen, and benadryl. These are drugs with (minimal) side effects. They're useful when needed. I've found that true health is about flexibility, not rules.
I also use other synthetic supplements like methylated B12 and lypospheric vitamin C because they target my genes and my needs. Not one hundred percent whole food or herbal, but completely practical.
What are your first aid must-haves? Let me know in the comments!