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Travel Health



This article provides handy tips on compiling a first aid kit for travel in overseas countries.



It is important to be prepared for minor medical problems when travelling overseas. If you are travelling in a foreign country it may be difficult to obtain simple medical products, so a small first aid kit is a sensible addition to your travel luggage.

The items you have in the first aid kit will depend on where you are going, for how long, and how extensive you would like the kit to be. This article will make suggestions for basic items, and more advanced travel kits.

Standard travellers kit:

  • Aspirin or paracetamol pain killers
  • A decongestant nasal spray to unblock your ears and nose (useful for the aircraft)
  • Skin ointment
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Sticking plasters
  • Antacid tablets
  • Sleeping tablets and anti-diarrhoea tablets
  • Anti-inflammatory tablets
  • Clean needle and syringe for developing countries
  • Insect repellant
  • Safety pins
  • Adequate medication for pre-existing health conditions
  • Oral contraceptive pill and/or condoms
  • Women should also carry sanitary pads or tampons because menstruation can be upset by travel.

Advanced travellers kit:

Apart from the items mentioned above for the basic first aid kit, the following items may also be included:

  • Sterile scalpel for wound care
  • Forceps to help remove splinters and ticks
  • Oral thermometer
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandages and dressings for larger wounds
  • Butterfly wound-closure clips which can be used in place of stitches
  • Blister padding (can be handy for long treks)
  • Surgical gloves
  • Temporary dental fillings
  • Electrolyte rehydration powdered solution to help treat vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Tourniquet for extreme bleeding
  • Water-proof matches
  • Whistle

Prescription medicines:

Keep prescription medicines to a minimum to avoid problems with Customs’ Officers. They are best carried in the hand luggage in their original container with your name on the label. It may be useful to get a note from your doctor about the prescription medicine and what it is prescribed for.

It is important for travellers with cardiovascular and respiratory conditions to get the all clear from their doctor before flying because some uncontrolled conditions can preclude air travel.

Patients with cardiovascular disease should carry extra amounts of their regular medication, and carry a letter from their doctor explaining their condition, medication requirements and most recent test results including their ECG results. Contact details for their doctor should also be provided. It is vitally important that patients with heart disease also carry health insurance when they travel.

There is now a recognised link between deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and air travel, and it is recommended people at risk use support stockings during long flights. Travellers at risk include pregnant women, those with varicose veins or a past history of DVT. Women taking the oral contraceptive pill may also want to use supportive stockings on long flights.

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