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first aid kit

Why You Need to Make Your Own Family Travel First Aid Kit

SmarterTravel

For years, I was afraid to challenge the wisdom of the pre-packaged first aid kit. Gauze? Why not. Butterfly bandages? Not sure what they are, but they seem important. Tiny packets of first aid ointment that get used up within the first few months and never replaced? Check. But traveling with kids changed this, and I realized I needed to build my own family travel first aid kit.

Creating our custom family travel first aid kit rather than buying one of the many pre-packaged first aid kits available on Amazon and elsewhere offers two primary benefits. First, because I’ve chosen each item based on what we actually use, we have what we need when we need in every medical situation I’m capable of handling. And perhaps more importantly, because I have whittled it down to the basics, our family travel first aid kit is small enough that I will actually carry it with me. In a day bag, space is at a premium, and I found that when I traveled with a pre-made first aid kit, it took up too much space in my bag, so I’d leave it behind—and not have it on hand when I actually needed it.

I’m not prepared for everything. But by opting for a family travel first aid kit that addresses our most common needs, I am more prepared more often.

How to Build Your Own Family Travel First Aid Kit

  • Review pre-made first aid kits to see if there’s one that might work for you. If there is, you’re set. If not, proceed to the next step.
  • Using pre-made first aid kits as a general guide, make your list. There’s a balance to strike between things that you hope you never use/wouldn’t know how to use/have never used that come with most first aid kits and those items that aren’t standard but are things that get used often.
  • Once you have your list, use your existing home medical supplies (if you’re a caregiver, you likely already have a sizeable stash of bandages, for instance) and travel-sized versions of key items. Buy a small bag or simply use a zip-top plastic bag for your kit.

Making your own family travel first aid kit requires a bit of heavy lifting on the front end, but once it’s done, it will just be a matter of restocking or renewing when necessary; otherwise you can just keep it packed and ready to go.

When I was building my family travel first aid kit, I realized I needed two: One ultra-portable option stocked with on-the-go fixes like bandages and bug-bite cream, and another, slightly larger kit that stayed at the hotel that could tackle colds, stomach aches, allergies, and other ailments. Dividing supplies allows me to travel light on a daily basis but still be prepared on our travels.

What’s in my Family Travel First Aid Kit

A small selection of the following items, stowed in a snack- or sandwich-sized plastic zip-top bag:

More from SmarterTravel:

Follow Christine Sarkis on Twitter @ChristineSarkis and Instagram @postcartography for more advice about making every vacation the best vacation.

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