What to Pack in a DIY Travel Medical Kit

While it is impossible to be prepared for every situation we may find ourselves in while traveling, a well-packed medical kit is an essential item everyone should bring with them, regardless of where they’re going.

It’s one of the first things to go in our suitcases and is always kept readily accessible and stocked with items we never think we’ll need, but inevitably do. I tend to pack items I never use at home, but would hate to be caught off-guard without!

Be sure to scroll down for your free printable checklist!

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These relatively inexpensive items we buy at home can be ridiculously high-priced at resort gift shops or stores and pharmacies in tourist hot-spots, or perhaps not carry what you need at all!

This is a general list of what we bring – and depending on what activities you’re doing or where you’re going, you may find you need more or less of certain items. I am by no means a health expert, so please contact your doctor for any advice on health issues or on what medications are appropriate for you to take.

what to pack in a travel medical kit DIY
The beginnings of a well-packed kit

Medical Kit Items

  • Advil (or similar): Absolutely the number one item I always have a large stock of. From headaches on the plane to dehydration headaches, it’s an absolute must!
  • After-bite/Anti-itch cream: For any adverse reactions to bug bites or plants.
  • Gravol: I tend to get car sick if I sit in the backseat, so usually the first thing I do just after leaving the airport is take one of these.
  • Pepto: Just because you never know! This covers a few bases, so if you are on a limited budgt and trying to decide which few items to pack, make this a top one.
  • Loperamide: More commonly known as Imodium. Trust me, this is one you definitely do not want to forget at home! Between different drinking water to foods we don’t normally eat (or sugary drinks!), your system may be turned upside down. Inexpensive yet effective, I always make sure I am fully stocked!
  • Alka-Seltzer: As someone who is prone to getting heartburn, I never leave home without these. It doesn’t stop me from enjoying spicy meals though!
  • Claritin/Benadryl/Aerius: One of my worst fears is having an allergic reaction to food or the environment I’m on. I’ve never had to take one of these fortunately, but this is one of those key items I’d be sorry not to have on hand.
  • Dayquil/Cold and Flu medicine: I don’t know how many times I get sick on vacation, and it isn’t fun, especially when I lose my sense of taste and smell! Having these on hand can help quell your symptoms. I prefer the packs that contain nighttime pills, so they help me sleep more comfortably.
  • Sore throat drops: Having a sore throat can be miserable. Easing the discomfort, even temporarily, can go a long way in improving your mood.
  • Aloe-Vera: We’ve all been there – spending our first day in the sun soaking up the rays, only to pay the price that night after not applying enough sunscreen! The natural aloe vera options may be a bit more money, but there is no dye in them.
  • Antibiotic Cream: For any cuts or scrapes along the way.
  • Band-aids: All shapes and sizes. Enough to have you covered for burns, scrapes, or blisters.
  • Eye drops: For any dryness or irritation from plane travel, wind burn, or general sense of eye tiredness.

If you are traveling with prescription medication, ensure they are left in their original containers and keep them in your carry-on baggage.

Here’s your downloadable checklist!

As you’ll see, many of these items are small and take up little space in your suitcase. Over time you’ll be able to pinpoint what items you really need and can customize your own kit best suited to you. I pack my liquid and cream items in a clear quart bag (so I can toss if something leaks) and so I can easily see what I need to grab. I tend to pack extra for family or friends – so it doesn’t hurt to be overstocked on some things! In my experience, the most-used items have been Advil, Loperamide, and Gravol.

What items do you pack? Let me know if you think of one I should be adding!

Traveling to an all-inclusive vacation? Be sure to grab your printable checklist for what you should (and shouldn’t) be packing!

Pin it for later!

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  1. July 6, 2020 / 3:31 pm

    Oh, thank you so much for this post! This was super helpful! Love the checklist. And the ginger stuff for nausea was new to me. I’m going to pick up some of that and give it a try.

    • Sarah
      July 6, 2020 / 4:23 pm

      Thanks Amanda! I hope it helps you – I can’t go anywhere without it now since I get carsick and nauseous haha. 🙂

  2. Angela
    July 6, 2020 / 5:55 pm

    OH man, I am a carsick queen too. Funny is I can ride any rollercoaster or spinning ride but the back seat – no way. I need to get those pills!

    • Sarah
      July 6, 2020 / 6:14 pm

      Isn’t that funny!? I’m the same! 😂 They really help me – good luck!

  3. Cindy Mailhot
    July 6, 2020 / 6:36 pm

    I love the checklist. I do try my best to pack light so I tend to only pack a dose or two and that will get us through until I can pick up something where we are. In Europe I usually find there stuff is better.

    • Sarah
      July 7, 2020 / 8:12 am

      Yes! When we go to the UK I usually hold out to buy stuff there because it’s so cheap (and sometimes even more effective than here!). I won’t chance it if we go to an all-inclusive – usually the prices are jacked way up!

  4. July 6, 2020 / 6:48 pm

    We have a travel-sized first aid kit we take camping with us, plus a bag of pills for whatever might come up. Basically we have an extra bottle of everything we keep in the medicine cabinet for the road.

    • Sarah
      July 7, 2020 / 8:13 am

      That’s great! a lot of people don’t do that. I’d hate to be caught short!

  5. Emily Ackerman
    July 6, 2020 / 9:42 pm

    yes to all of this. I don’t knnow how many times I’ve been stuck without a bandaid for my kids

    • Sarah
      July 7, 2020 / 8:26 am

      I’ve been caught short a few times too – I’d rather be overprepared!

  6. July 6, 2020 / 11:41 pm

    Some meds I never thought to add. We always have meds for the kids. This is a very helpful list. Thanks!

    • Sarah
      July 7, 2020 / 8:27 am

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you found it useful 🙂

  7. July 7, 2020 / 1:22 am

    Oh man, I needed this with my kids. Even though we can’t travel right now, we’re going on LOADS of hikes and I totally needed to up my medical kit game! Thanks for the tips!

    • Sarah
      July 7, 2020 / 8:30 am

      You’re so welcome! Glad you found it useful!

  8. July 7, 2020 / 10:13 am

    This is a great list, especially when traveling out of the country or on a cruise. It’s quite expensive to purchase these things once away.

    • Sarah
      July 7, 2020 / 10:32 am

      Thanks! I thought so too!

  9. July 7, 2020 / 12:46 pm

    I love this! You never know when you are going to need a medical kit! We have one in our cars and in our hiking bags at all times!

    • Sarah
      July 7, 2020 / 3:24 pm

      Exactly!! Glad you’re prepared!

    • Sarah
      July 8, 2020 / 7:13 am

      Thanks Annette! I’m glad lots of people carry these kits with them!

  10. July 7, 2020 / 9:58 pm

    Great tips! I will consult this one again!

    • Sarah
      July 8, 2020 / 7:12 am

      Thank you!

  11. Lynda Frappier
    September 18, 2022 / 1:17 pm

    Hi. Just a quick thing…the aloe vera gel is a great idea, but the green ones have dye in them. Try to find the clear gel. Natural!

    • Sarah
      September 19, 2022 / 2:13 pm

      Totally agree! I always recommend the natural ones!

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