If you’re a backpacker, traveling light is essential. When preparing to pack, my inclination is to make a list, accumulate necessities into a pile and then subtract whatever is overflowing.
What I learned about first aid supplies is pretty simple: look into your medicine cabinet and pick first from the things you’ve used in the last 30 days. Basically, it’s all hypothetical anyway. Chances are you will wish you had some things, and never use many other things. And, keep in mind that wherever you’re going, unless it’s camping or someother nature-only situation, most countries have many of the things you’ll need. Pack what you want to have at your disposal or in case of chronic medical/health need. If you travel with the Lonely Planet, look up the Doctor or Pharmacy when you arrive in town (you don’t want to have to inquire when an emergency arises). Even if you are not accident prone, you’ll be doing different things than you do at home so just to be on the safe side, here are some things to carry in a small toiletry case:
- Bandages (a few different sizes are great). They don’t take up much room and they help to keep cuts clean when you’re in a dirty place. An Ace Bangage is good for minor sprains and swelling. Some gauze will keep wounds clean but let them breathe (good for tropical weather).
- Peroxide or antibiotic ointment. Small containers only and use these products sparingly. A clean wound means better healing and peace of mind.
- Aspirin/Ibuprophren. Good for headaches, relieving inflammation. And still, you don’t need 500 tablets of anything.
- Oralgel. Nothing is worse than a toothache, except a toothache while traveling.
- Eye drops.
- Tweezers. Splinters and ticks can be removed quickly.
- Anti-diarheal or constipation relief can save the day.
As for medications for chronic conditions, bring what you need while considering needs for refrigeration and prescriptions, if needed. Some countries will allow buying meds without a doctors note. Birth control and condoms will be available but bring ‘em if you want (again) peace of mind.
Even as I peruse the list, it seems like a lot, but feel free to eliminate anything you wouldn’t ordinarily use, or repackage items into the smallest containers. My own experience has also taught me not to be afraid to abandon anything that just doesn’t make sense as you go. I have donated many kilos of unwanted items to other travellers or locals and not only felt lighter because of it, but knew this exchange would be reciprocated if I found myself in need.