Whilst necessary equipment will vary depending on where you are travelling to and what sort of journey you will take, as well as your personal medical circumstances, there are certain items that you should make sure are packed in a basic first-aid kit before travelling abroad. An easily assembled kit will ensure that you will have the basics necessary in case of a minor emergency, as well as prepare you for any mishaps whilst away from home.
Basic kits can be bought from any pharmacy, large supermarket or online, or can be home-made. They should include diarrhoea tablets, bandages, antiseptic lotion, safety pins, painkillers and plasters, as well as dressings, bite cream and an antihistamine. If travelling to remote locations, you may want to include water purification tablets, and malaria infected zones will necessitate anti-malaria medication. Basics such as sun-cream, wound cream for bites or sores, and good quality condoms should also be included in the kit.
Of course, different situations will require a variation of equipment. A business traveller staying in western-style accommodation and flying on international airlines will require a limited kit, those taking a tour through rural areas in some countries will likely need more items. For example, whilst travelling in remote locations in Africa, it may be an idea to carry your own needle, syringe and sterilisation kit as well as disposable, sterile gloves, as the facilities and equipment at some local hospitals are likely to be basic. Aspirin, rehydration salts, a small torch, tweezers and a lighter for emergency sterilisation of equipment would also be useful.
You should always have full and comprehensive insurance whilst travelling abroad, and keep details of this in your first-aid kit, together with any relevant personal information, such as blood type, any allergies, any medication used and any previous ailments or operations, so that local medical staff have easy access to your details in the event of an emergency.
Also keep in the kit the details of your emergency contact in your country of travel and at home. You should always let someone know your plans before taking a remote journey in a foreign country, and check that your travel insurance allows for emergency evacuation by air, if necessary.
Ensure that your vaccinations are current and relevant for the country to which you are travelling. Always take great care when exposed to someone who may have an infection; a face mask or eye protection may be necessary if you are doing volunteer work in a rural location in Asia, Latin America or Africa.
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