Traveler's Tips and First Aid Kit

Peace of mind while you vacation...


Taking a trip?  Whether you drive across the country, cruise the ocean, or fly overseas, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) wishes you a safe and healthy trip, and recommends that you prepare a Traveler's First Aid Kit to help you respond to common medical emergencies.  Emergency physicians also recommend that you take a first aid class, learn CPR, and always seek immediate medical attention when you need it.

Before any foreign travel, always check with your physician and travel clinic or public health department about any immunizations and medical documentation you will need specific to the area you are traveling.

For the kit itself, use a tote bag because it can hold all the items you need and is easy to carry.  Never store it in luggage - put it in your carry-on bag, and always keep it with you.


Before you leave

Visit your physician.  Ask for a medical summary listing of any medical problems, operations, allergies and a copy of your most recent EKG.  Have any TB skin test results recorded by your physician.  If you wear corrective lenses, take an extra pair on your trip, and carry your lens prescription with you.

Make a list of any medications you are taking, using both generic and brand names, and be sure to pack enough medication for your trip (at least 50% more than you think you might need).

Check your medical insurance policy and health plan for coverage of illnesses or accidents outside the United States, as well as how to get medical attention and return home if you become ill.  If you are aboard a cruise ship, ask what medical staff and equipment are available in case of an emergency.

ACEP suggests the following items for a Traveler's First Aid Kit.  Include other items as recommended by your physician.


Kit contents


Remember to follow the same precautions for medicines in your Traveler's First Aid Kit as with any medicine.  Use as recommended by your physician, and make sure your children cannot get them - always use child safety caps.   Check expiration dates, and throw away any expired medicines.  If someone in your household has a life-threatening allergy, carry appropriate medication with you at all times


Avoid Traveler's Diarrhea

  • Wash your hands frequently and always before eating.
  • Eat items that require little handling in preparation.
  • Eat only well-cooked and hot foods.  If eating at a buffet, eat early before food cools, or insects arrive.
  • Eat only fresh fruits and vegetables you have peeled or seen prepared in front of you.
  • Drink hot beverages, such as coffee or tea.
  • Drink bottled water or name brand carbonated beverages.
  • Wipe off any bottle before drinking or pouring.
  • Tie a colored ribbon around the bathroom faucet as a reminder not to drink the tap water.


  • Never drink tap water.  Don't brush your teeth with tap water.
  • Never drink fresh water or standing water.
  • Avoid bottled water not opened in front of you.
  • Avoid ice cubes.  If you must have a cool drink, place ice cubes in a small, clean leakproof bag and place the bag in your drink.  Carry bags with you.
  • Avoid food from street vendors.
  • Avoid shellfish, any uncooked seafood, or raw meat.
  • Avoid uncooked vegetables.
  • Avoid salads.
  • Avoid dairy products.
  • Avoid juices not prepared in front of you.  Tap water may have been added.
  • Minimize swimming and swallowing water unless well-chlorinated.


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Material taken from the American College of Emergency Physicians.