Why I Never Pack a Travel First-Aid Kit

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Hey kid, want free magic powers first aid kits?

Hey kid, want a free travel first-aid kit?

It was just after my Great US Road Trip when I received an email asking if I’d like to review a traveler first-aid kit.

This isn’t a terribly unusual thing. When you blog long enough, people start to offer you free shit all of the time.

Sometimes, like my awesome Global Travel Jacket or my PhotoJojo Iris Lenses, they’re something I love and use a lot.

Sometimes, it’s a weird diet supplement or some sporting memorabilia that has only the most tangential relevance to what I write about.

In this case, a travel first-aid kit was something I was willing to give a go.

There was only one problem…

I never pack a travel first-aid kit

I’m not unbreakable or anything. Far from it.

I spent two hours the other night limping around like a polio sufferer because I had the world’s tiniest splinter in my foot.

Like most men, I’m an absolute fucking sook when I’m hurt or ill.

Thankfully (touch wood), it doesn’t happen often. Aside from a few twisted ankles and cuts, the worst that’s happened to me in my travels has been two melodramatic cases of nasty food-poisoning worsened by my location at the time.

Oh, and the time I fell off a boat and broke my arm in Indonesia.

But you don’t want to read about my body’s predilection for turning solids into fiery, foul-smelling liquids or my inability to stay on a boat.

If that’s what butters your biscuit, you can read about the day Thailand was my toilet or how I nearly died on the Karakorum Highway. Sicko.

So, why would a fragile flower such as myself not pack a first-aid kit when he travels?

It’s pretty simple, really: I’m a lazy idiot.

When it came time to pack for my current trip to Asia, I was more worried about cramming in as many books, electronics, Crunchies, tins of Milo, and pairs of shoes as I could into my bags.

Condoms too. Chinese condoms are like wearing too-tight tank-tops on your tackle. No thanks.

It’s some indication of how little I value my own well-being that I very nearly didn’t even pack my free travel first-aid kit.

Not because I didn’t think it was of value, but because short-term desires like “More chocolate” and “More things to read” tend to trump things like “Don’t die bleeding after tumbling from a poorly constructed staircase in a Chinese national park”.

I’d been sent two first-aid kits to review. One, big enough that it would have needed a pack of its own, had to stay behind and I’ll review it some other time. The other, a more travel-friendly size, came along for the ride.

travel first-aid kit small
Not quite pocket-sized, but definitely backpacker friendly.

Enough already, review the damned first aid kit!

Okay, okay! I’m getting there!

Cracking open this first-aid kit shows all of the usual essentials.

There are bandages and band-aids, safety pins, splinter probes & tweezers, adhesive tape, gauzes, and other such essentials that you hope you have but never need.

Had I started this review a few days earlier, I’d have been able to overcome the Great Splinter Incident of 2016 with much less pitiful mewling.

travel first-aid sting pack
The larger kit also includes a stings pack that would be exceptionally useful in Australia.

First-aid kits really aren’t about saving lives so much as alleviating pain and/or temporarily delaying death until more qualified hands can arrive – so there’s no defibrillator pads, epi pens, or miracle cures in here. What there is, is a handy little first-aid booklet covering the most common travel ailments as well as a CPR card and resuscitation mask.

Hopefully, nobody’s life is ever in my hands – as I’ve made a big enough mess of my own – but it’s a comfort knowing that they’re there should I need them.

In fact, while hiking the Kumano Kodo in November 2017, the band-aids, adhesive tape, and compression bandages in this kit came in super-handy in making sure Adventures Around Asia was able to complete the trek after she sprained her ankle.

What does it include?

travel first aid kit full
The full kit in all its glory.

The full kit I was sent includes the following:

  • 2 x heavy crepe bandages
  • 1 x instant ice pack
  • 1 x Ticked Off tick removal spoon
  • 1 x 50ml antiseptic spray
  • 1 x sewing kit
  • 1 x Multi-Tool (compass/watch/torch)
  • 50 x adhesive dressings
  • 4 x antiseptic wipes
  • 1 x bandage shears
  • 1 x CPR card
  • 1 x Emergency blanket
  • 2 x eye pads
  • 1 x fever scan strip
  • 1 x First Aid booklet
  • 5 x Hydro gel
  • 1 x Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
  • 2 x nitrile gloves
  • 1 x CPR mask
  • 3 x non-adherent wound dressings
  • 1 x large non-adherent wound dressing
  • 3 x plastic bags
  • 1 x pressure bandage
  • 1 x smart bandage
  • 1 x resuscitation kit including mask, gloves, and antiseptic wipe
  • 6 x safety pins
  • 4 x saline
  • 1 x splinter probe
  • 1 x triangular bandage
  • 1 x tweezers
  • 1 x wound closure
  • 1 x wound dressings

As you can see, it’s pretty bloody exhaustive, and it’s larger for the fact.

I kind of wish I’d brought the larger kit if only for the electrolyte supplement included, since my most common ailment abroad is being unable to keep food in my stomach.

I guess I can content myself with the old-faithfuls of Eastern medicine: tiger penis, ground rhino horn, and piping hot water.

Is it worth it?

First-aid kits, especially for travel, need to be comprehensive while also being easy to pack, and this one fits the bill on both counts. It’s no bigger than a thick Lonely Planet guidebook but crams in all of the absolute essentials.

traveller first-aid kit inside
A sneak peak.

With an RRP of $164.95, it might seem a bit steep, but this link has it for a more affordable $109.95.

Is that worth your money? I guess that’s up to you. Mine was free and I can certainly see the value in having it, even if I’ve never owned a first-aid kit before.

 

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Featured image courtesy of DLG Images.

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9 comments

  1. Make sure you pack plenty of band aids/bandages/wound cleansing wipes if you intend to hire a motorcycle (based on experience, unfortunately…) I’ve just got Gastrostop, electrolyte stuff and paracetamol for my next trip.

    • I can imagine! I’ve heard some absolute horror stories about motorcycle rentals gone wrong, and China is especially bad for it – assuming your bike doesn’t get stolen by some enterprising local.

  2. Pre-kid I never left home without bandaids. Post-kid we now bring a small first aid kit with us all the time though we really could use some electrolyte supplements as well. The price of that kit seems pretty steep. We’ve thrown ours together for a fraction of the price though it isn’t in as nice of a container.

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