First-Aid Kit for Travel

The American College of Emergency Physicians and the CDC encourage travelers to pack a first-aid kit or a travel health kit for common medical emergencies. Pack the following items in your carry-on bag and keep it with you at all times.

First aid essentials

Small wound treatment

It is not uncommon while on a cruise, or on any travels, to get small cuts, scrapes, blisters, etc. These little non-emergency things can happen, so bring along a few things to make sure a little issue doesn’t become a bigger issue.

Adhesive bangages (Band-aids®)

Bring adhesive bandages of all shapes and sizes, being sure to include some that are waterproof too. You can pick up a variety pack and you’re all set. Don’t forget to keep a few on you on excursions, especially if you’re wearing some new sandals or flip flops to the beach. I personally use flexible fabric bandages. As you can see one on my thumb at Hoover Dam – that bandage was on for 3 days!

I always carry a few adhesive bandages for blisters. If you’re planning on wearing new shoes, or walking much more than usual, you should bring along some bandages made for blisters that will stay on in that water like these fast healing Hydrocolloid Gel Bandages for Heels.

Antibiotic ointment

I am a huge proponent of bacitracin and polymyxin B (polysporin); it heals small cuts quickly and nobody want an infection. I personally use Neosporin Antibiotic Pain-Relieving, Anti-Itch, & Scar Appearance Minimizer First Aid Ointment but you may have your own favorite brand.

Hydrocortisone cream

This can be really helpful for swelling and bug bites, so definitely bringing some along just in case. I, unfortunately, attract any bug bite know to man and anti-itch cortisone cream always comes to my rescue.

Gauze and alcohol wipes

Some small gauze pads (2×2) and alcohol wipes (prep-pads) can be useful for scrapes or anytime you need to disinfect, especially if you’re on a shore excursion or off the ship.

First Aid Kit

Bringing a first aid kit along with you on your cruise or any other trip is just a good idea. You can also use it in the house after your cruise.

The Professional First Aid Kit – Trauma Kit has a lot of what you need and actually includes 150 items. It might be worth buying a comprehensive cruise travel first aid kit, and skipping some of the items on the list (as they are in here). The overall dimension of the small first aid kit is 7.9” x 5.9” x 3.6” and weight only 1.3 pounds making it ideal for an active travel lifestyle. Additional space allows you to add customized items like tourniquet and emergency bandages.

There is also a Mini First Aid Kit which is a smaller size, 7.2″ x 5.5″ x 2.4″, that weighs only 0.66 lb and is easy to carry. Just enough to hold emergency necessities for your personal first aid kit.

Medications and pharmaceutical products

Prescription medication*

Travelers should take enough medicine for the planned trip plus extra in case the return home is delayed. Carry all medicine in their original containers with clear labels that identify your  name and dosing schedule. If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, seizures, or allergies, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet.

If you have a potential for severe allergic reactions, make sure you pack your Epinephrine auto-injector.

Be sure to carry a list of all prescription medicines and generic names. I keep a list with my travel documents as well as on my phone.

Non-prescription Pain relief medication*

Bring along some of your preferred pain medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin to relieve headaches, pain, and fever.

Cold medicine/sinus medication*

Bring cold medicine along to help alleviate symptoms of a cold or sinus inflammation. Nothing’s worse than feeling suffering from a cold while on vacation. will be so helpful. Something like Advil Cold and Sinus Congestion, Tylenol Sinus + Headache Non-Drowsy Caplets or their equivalents; remember to get the non-drowsy kind so you can still function and have a good time.

I also begin taking large daily doses of vitamin C, usually in the form of Airborne® which also contains zinc, starting a few week prior to a trip and during the trip. Vitamin C or Airborne® are powerful antioxidants that help keep your immune system running.

Cough and sore throat medication

Be sure to pack a good cough suppressant as well some cough drops. These will be helpful if you start to get sick while on a cruise. Cough drops and throat lozenges are great for cough suppression plus are great with the dry sea air.

Stomach and Digestive Issues


Tums, Rolaids or Pepto Bismol® can be useful for nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, and diarrhea. Whether it’s due to eating or drinking too much or just having a touch of traveler’s stomach, it can help you feel better. We’ve even found if a touch of ship movement is bothering us, a chewable antacid has brought relief.

I also bring a few of these along in a little ziploc® first-aid baggie for excursion days.

Anti-diarrhea medication

You can get an upset stomach for a variety of reasons. If you think the cause is a flu, you may need to see the ship’s doctor; however, over-the-counter medicine for diarrhea, such as Imodium®, may help. You could also talk to your doctor about a prescription for an antibiotic you can take in case of diarrhea.

Anti-nausea or motion sickness medicine

If you are prone to motion sickness, you may also want to include medicine or other preventive measures for motion sickness. There are a variety of medicines for motion sickness, such as Dramamine®.

Other potential remedies include:

Allergic Reactions


Allergic reactions can happen and are unpredictable. Obviously if you already know you or another member of your family has an allergy, you probably have medication (perhaps a Epipen) and know what to do should this occur. However, people can develop unpredictable sensitivities allergic reactions from a food that’s new, or from a lotion or product, reactions such as swelling and hives can happen.

An OTC antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), or equivalent can really help, especially if taken as soon as possible.

Other essentials to have in your first-aid kit

  • Hand sanitizer
    Antibacterial hand wipes or an alcohol-based hand cleaner which should contain 60% alcohol or more. I recommend carrying a small hand sanitizer bottle everywhere, especially when you leave the ship to go on an excursion or even to go shopping. You touch money and all sorts of things, and hand sanitizer is great until you get back to the ship and can wash your hands with soap and water.

  • Elastic wraps to wrap wrist, ankle, knee, and elbow injuries.

  • Gauze in rolls, as well as 2-inch and 4-inch pads to dress larger cuts and scrapes.

  • Adhesive tape to keep gauze in place.

  • Scissors with rounded tips to cut tape, gauze, or clothes, if necessary. Note that this may not be allowed in your carry-on bag if traveling by air.

  • Safety pins to fasten splints and bandages. Also great for a quick mend for clothing repair such as missing button, torn hem, etc.

  • Disposable, instant-activating cold packs to cool injuries and burns, as well as for use in strains and sprains.

  • Tweezers to remove small splinters, foreign objects, bee stingers, and ticks from the skin. Note that this may not be allowed in your carry-on bag if traveling by air.

  • Disposable rubber gloves to protect hands and reduce risk of infection when treating wounds.

  • Thermometer to take temperatures in case of illness.

  • Insect repellent. Those appropriate for use on children should contain no more than 10% to 15% DEET, and 30% to 50% DEET or up to 15% of picaridin for adults, as the chemical can cause harm when absorbed through the skin. Do not use insect repellant on infants 2 months of age or younger.

* Important Note: All medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) should be kept in their original containers.

Be sure to follow the same precautions with the medicines in your first aid kit as you do with all medicines, and use only as recommended by your doctor. Make sure children cannot get into the first-aid bag; use child safety caps whenever possible. Also be aware of volume limits in carry-on bags. Some of these items may need to be packed in your checked luggage while flying. Check expiration dates and discard medicine that is out-of-date. If someone has a life-threatening allergy, carry the appropriate medicine with you at all times.

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