If you want to travel off the beaten path and go on an adventure, then you must be prepared with a travel first aid kit!
Hiking in the backcountry, traveling in raw, wild, and ferocious places, and exploring mother nature away from civilization does not come without risks! You’re going to need the right gear to travel into the wilderness safely. Even if you’re just city hopping, there are a few first aid kit items that will come in handy.
Don’t bother buying an expensive, pre-packed travel kit and make your own instead. Remember, your travel first aid kit should be practical and take up minimum space. Overpacking is the most common mistake made by travelers.
Your kit should be catered specifically to your needs on the road, so before you pack, ask yourself where you will be going.
What the climate like? Will there be wild animals? Are you traveling among the gods of mountains in hard, cold conditions? Will clean water be available? How far will you be from the nearest medical assistance?
These are super important questions to ask before you pack for your next trip. On that note, though, there are a few essentials that should be in EVERY travel first aid kit.
Read this list first! Everything on it is important whether you are backpacking in the mountains or through the cities of Europe. I also created a few more precise first aid kit contents for more specific travel trips.
As backpackers, mountaineer enthusiasts, hikers, and travelers, our goal is to help YOU explore this earth’s deepest corners and wildest places. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
Quick Answers: Top 5 Important Travel First Aid Kit Items
If you only buy 5 things, let them be these:
Bandages, Anti Septic Wipes, and Antibacterial Gel for Basic First Aid Kit Contents
Travel First Aid Kit Considerations and Tips
Think about life on the road and the typical challenges faced, then plan your travel kit accordingly:
1. Go for tablets, gels, and creams over liquids, so you do not have to deal with airline liquid restrictions or explosions in your bag!
2. Make sure liquids are under 3.5 oz if you travel by plane.
3. Pack your supplies in a heavy-duty waterproof container to protect them from the elements.
4. No matter where you travel, you’ll probably walk a lot. Prepare for blisters.
5. Food Poisoning and stomach problems are common for international travel. Come Prepared!!!
6. Cold and rough climates will require extra warmth and some items for chapped and dry skin.
7. Hot, humid conditions mean bug bites and that cuts and scrapes are more prone to infection.
8. Prepare to be in the sun for unnatural amounts of time, whether you are traveling to the beach or the mountains. This means protection, hydration, and precautions!
9. You’ll most likely be jet-lagged after international travel. Check out my tips for how to land refreshed!
10. Don’t overpack. Bring the essentials you cannot get abroad and nothing more!
The Travel First Aid Kit Essentials
It bears repeating: These travel first aid kit items are absolute ESSENTIALS. Everything on this short yet important list should in every single first aid kit, no matter where you go!
I have created a few more specific first aid kit checklists for International Travel, Adventure Travel, Camping and Hiking, and Winter/Mountain Travel below!
Bandages of Various Sizes – Take just a few assorted sizes and add a few of the small, round ones for covering insect bites.
Antiseptic Wipes – You’ll find antiseptic wipes in any mini first aid kit as they are necessary for cleaning up minor cuts, scrapes, and burns to prevent infection.
Antibacterial Gel: You should have this in any basic first aid kit. Use it on minor cuts, abrasions, rashes, and burns. When traveling in less-than-fresh locations, a little antibacterial gel (think Neosporin) can make a huge difference.
Medical Tape – To fix bandages.
Gauze pads – Sterile pads that can be used to clean and cover scrapes or injuries too large for a plaster. Bring a few of different sizes.
Moleskin – This one is probably the travel first aid kit item I use most. Do not forget moleskin, especially if you are hiking.
Leatherman Multi-tool Knife – Actually, this is the tool I use most. You’ll need a knife when you’re traveling, whether it is to build a shelter or slice bread and cheese on a train. I’m sure you’ll also find a use for the bottle opener. The entire Broke Backpacker team has one of these. Thanks, Will!
Mosquito Repellent – Depending on where you are visiting, you are going to NEED repellent. Don’t forget to get a travel-size bottle for your carry-on!
Grayl Geopress Water Bottle – Water sources can be polluted by a variety of heavy minerals, toxins, and even feces (the sad truth of giardia). All hail the mighty Grayl Geopress. It’s a water bottle and purifier, which means that it removes bacteria, heavy metals, and viruses.
Soap – Dr. Bronner’s – I take this stuff everywhere. Use it to wash your hands, wash your dishes, your hair, your clothes, and travel super light. It’s non-toxic and biodegradable. I recommend Dr. Bronner’s soap bar so you don’t have to deal with liquid restrictions.
Reef-Safe Sun Block – I love that this sunblock does not harm reefs nor contain any toxic ingredients. Plus, it protects you from the sun when you’re at the beach all day.
Chapstick – For some people, this is a travel first aid kit essential, but even if you don’t use chapstick often like me, it’s a necessity if you will be exposed to the sun often, especially at high elevations! I love Allgood chapstick, which uses a healing infusion of medicinal herbs, including Calendula grown on their farm.
Multi-wear Buff – The most versatile clothing item I own. It will protect you from all of the elements: sun, snow, wind, and dust! (Get merino wool because it wicks sweat and doesn’t stink!)
Your Medication – Bring any medication that you need at home, but keep a copy of any prescriptions in case you are questioned! To be safe, carry your medicine in the original bottle. You may also want to carry ibuprofen, aspirin, or antihistamines.
First Aid Supplies for International Travel
This list includes extra travel kit items in addition to the essentials above. This list is primarily for urban and international flight travel. It is also for anyone traveling on a well-established backpacker route, where it is easy to pick things up along the way.
Please read my “Travel First Aid Kit for Adventure Travelers” section if you are going anywhere like Pakistan or East Africa.
Travel Insurance with World Nomads
As a member of the globetrotter community, being prepared for the unexpected is a basic requirement. That’s why travelers insurance is a must-have. There’s no better way to go than with coverage from World Nomads Insurance because their wide variety of affordable plans will cover you for every hiccup from medical services and emergencies to unforeseen travel cancellations and theft protection. The peace of mind is worth it – trust us!
Clean Water: There are MANY ways to drink clean water internationally without using plastic. As I highlighted above, the Grayl water filter/bottle is awesome for travel. LifeStraw is another great filter in which you can drink from any water source safely without carrying anything bulky with you.
Electrolytes – In case you become dehydrated on your trip. Plane flights are dehydrating as it is! And if you end up spending half of your trip on the toilet, you’ll also need to rehydrate. I linked the best electrolyte mix I know of. (No sugar or artificial ingredients.)
Eye Mask – Traveling with an eye mask is crucial! You’ll use your eye mask in noisy hostels, on flights, bus rides, and getting shut-eye in cities. I never leave home without my eye mask.
Ear Plugs – Like the eye mask, earplugs are necessary if you are traveling on public transportation and sleeping in hostels!
Sewing Kit – For when things fall apart, though hopefully not to give yourself stitches. This isn’t essential for everyone, but if you are traveling for many months it may be worth bringing.
Hand Sanitizer Spray – I don’t really use sanitizer at home, though this one is nice to have in the car on long road trips with questionable pit stops. Sanitizer is necessary for international travel and comes in handy at bus stops, squat toilets, and of course, to work on an injury without (clean) water around.
Activated Charcoal – Great to combat food poisoning or an upset stomach. Activated charcoal captures, binds, and excretes toxins. (Do not take close to a meal, as it also binds to nutrients.) Bring something stronger if you need it, like Imodium.
Contraception – Sometimes it’s not easy to find internationally. Bring your own condoms, birth control, etc.
Optional for Plane Travel
Oregano Oil – Oreganol is the first thing I pack in my carry-on while traveling. It’s a “first defense” to any germs you’ll come in contact with on the plane. Fight off any common cold or flu with this anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-viral concentrated wild herb.
Compression Socks – Compression can help to increase the blood flow in your lower legs, thereby reducing swollen feet from flying.
Reishi Mushroom Extract – Don’t get me wrong… I love coffee, but I stick to water when I’m flying because it’s extremely dehydrating. If I drink anything extra, Reishi tea is amazing! It helps to support your immune system and restful sleep. Four Sigmatic extracts are great because they are easy to travel with and include Rosehip and Mint extract (so it doesn’t taste like dirt)! Win, win, and win!
Adventure Travel, Hiking, and Camping First Aid Kit Checklist
Planning to hike in the Amazon, go off-the-grid in Patagonia, hike to the K2 Basecamp, or go on a trek in Kyrgyzstan? How about a 2-week backpacking trip in Yosemite or the Southwest, USA? Then this is the travel first aid kit list for YOU.
If you are going on a multi-day or week hike or camping trip, you’re going to need a few extras from the essential first aid kit supplies to survive and thrive.
Depending on the difficulty and duration of your trip, wilderness training can be helpful if not essential when it comes to the rare snake bite. Here is everything you need to throw in your pack when you head off into the unknown…
SAS Survival Guide – You can know a lot, but you can’t know it all. Throw this book in your backpack, and you’ll be covered for all sorts of situations.
Head Torch – You can’t go camping or hiking without a head torch! They are also extremely useful for traveling where power-outs are common. Trust us, a head torch is essential for any travel packing list.
Moleskin – worth mentioning again. This stuff is a lifesaver for hiking, camping and adventure travel.
Bandage Wraps – For wrapping sprained joints. Good to have if you are going to be far from medical help. Look for styles featuring Velcro rather than small metal closures, which can break or get lost.
Clean Water: Okay, I have talked about this before, but it’s super important, especially if you’re going off-the-grid! The Grayl water filter/bottle is awesome for travel. LifeStraw is another great filter in which you can drink from any water source safely without carrying anything bulky with you. Use a large gravity filter like the MSR to filter a ton of water at once for camp.
Iodine Tablets: Great as a backup in any camping first aid kit; pack iodine tablets to purify water in an emergency.
Rav Power 26800 Power Bank – if you plan to venture off the grid, take a portable power pack, like the Ray Power or Goal Zero Venture 30. It will come in handy to keep your gear charged!
Surgical Tweezers – Good for splinter and tick removal.
Bear Canister and spray – Not needed everywhere, but you can’t hike in many places in the western USA without one! A bear canister also comes in handy for protecting your food from marmots and other rodents too!
Fire Starter – Another essential for a camper first aid kit because rubbing sticks together can be a tedious game to play, especially if it’s raining. Always check and make sure that lighting a fire is legal, especially if you are hiking in the backcountry.
Stove Fuel for your backpacking stove – It’s worth mentioning that you should definitely bring your own stove fuel. We always recommend that you travel with a stove for camping and adventure travel. It can be hard to track down propane in some countries, so play it safe and bring your own fuel.
Merino Icebreaker 200 Oasis – Along with all of your essential clothing layers, your base layer will be one of the most important items you travel and camp with. In addition to providing warmth, the base layer gives you much-needed protection from the searing sun.
Dramamine – Bumpy roads or rough water can make even a seasoned traveler queasy.
Aloe Vera Gel – To treat sunburns. This is equally important whether you are going to a beach destination or traveling in the mountains since the sun can be much stronger at elevation. Look for 100% aloe vera.
Anti-malarials: Research your destinations in advance to make sure you even need them. I knew a girl taking them in the mountains of India, and spoiler alert, there was no malaria present. Heck, there weren’t even any mosquitos at that time of year! Obviously, talk to your doctor and make sure you stock up on the correct type depending on where you are going. Prevention is key too. Bring extra insect repellent and cover-up.
Extreme Adventure, Cold, and Mountains First Aid Kit List
This is a small addition for serious adventures, mountaineering, and very extreme climates. If you are traveling very far and in more dangerous situations, you should be prepared for graver incidents and of course have the BEST travel insurance.
Having items to deal with a broken bone, sprained joints, or severe burn could be life-saving for you or a friend.
Garmin In-Reach Mini Satellite Device – You can also send tracking information, get altitude readings, and send your exact GPS location to your loved one. If you need more info about whether its for you then our reivew of the Garmin Satelite Phone is here.
SAM splint – can be molded to the injured limb. Extra Gauze pads, large wound pads, and medical tape are also extremely helpful! Bring an irrigation syringe to cleanse the area of dirt and debris.
Second Skin – to help ease pain and heal a severe burn
Latex gloves – These are important in case you need to assist someone who is injured.
Emergency Bivvy Bag – Whether you’re bush camping without a tent or sleeping bag, or a surprise snowstorm comes your way, this is a lightweight essential you won’t even notice in your bag… until you need it.
Diamox – for altitude sickness
Waste Bags – If you are mountaineering or hiking in snow and on glaciers, then you must discard of your human waste properly!
Final Thoughts on our Ultimate Travel First Aid Kit Contents
This travel first aid kit list will help you prepare for your next adventure! There are some must-bring items, like a Leatherman Multi-tool Knife, Bandages, and Anti Septic Wipes, a water bottle with a filter, and moleskin for blisters!
Other important items to pack in your travel medical kit will depend on where you go! Are you traveling internationally? Will you be hiking at elevation? How far will you be from medical help? These are all important questions to ask as you pack and prepare for your trip!
If you do plan to travel into the backcountry, among mother nature and godly mountains, then you must be ready for anything! Check out our list
Writer and entrepreneur. Adventurer and vagabond. Master of the handstand pushup. Conqueror of mountains, survivor of deserts and crusader for cheap escapades. Will has been on the road for thirteen years, travelling to far-flung lands on a budget. Today, he runs a number of online ventures, including The Broke Backpacker – the world’s largest budget travel blog. He is passionate about solving the plastic problem and cleaning up the oceans. Currently, Will is based in Bali where he plans to open his first Tribal Hostel in 2020.