Do you really need to pack a first aid kit?
Probably everyone reading this already has a mini first aid kit they travel with. You might use a zip lock bag with some band aids and gauze, or you might have a deluxe kit from a survival shop. But is it worth the space and weight in your pack?
I personally bought two different mini-backpack kits and sorted through the contents to make up one sup-ed up first aid mini-pack. I have tiny scissors, tweezers, basic tiny sewing kit, band aids and blister treatments, anti-bacterial ointment, and capsules to treat everything from motion sickness to heartburn. And more. A lot more. There’s nothing that would really save a life – just make life more bearable. And it all fits in a tiny pack that’s about 4x4x2 inches.
I have always taken the approach that the purpose of such a first aid kit isn’t likely to save lives. While it’s a nice thought the reality is that virtually all major maladies and injuries must be taken care of at a clinic or hospital. Instead, I think of the first aid kit as a “day or ten dollars” saving device. If you’re taking a bumpy ferry ride as part of your trip, save yourself the $10 at the drug store and just bring two motion sickness capsules in your first aid kit. Get a nasty cut on your knee that will need cleaning and wrapping? Well, you’ve bought yourself a day by having basic supplies on hand and you can safely take some extra time to think of your next first aid step. If it’s 3am on a Sunday, you will be glad to have some Polysporin and gauze on hand and buy an extra 24 hours before you need to get to civilization.
All this first aid stuff is pretty basic,but recently I’ve read a few article suggesting a few more creative and unusual items for a first aid kit. So crafty! And they make so much sense – why didn’t I think of this before? Like taking a package of jello with you – easy comfort food for a sick stomach. Easy to digest, adds hydration and sugar, bound to be wildly popular. Just like a package of instant chicken broth. Comfort in a cup, perfect for a recovering digestive track. Perfect for flavoring rice when you are so, so sick of it. Instant plain oatmeal – great for breakfast, even better if you have a rash that JUST. WON’T. QUIT. Oatmeal is so soothing to strained skin. And, tiniest of all, a package or two of fast food salt. Makes instant saline solution to clean out a cut or scrape. It’s not perfect, but if you have a bad abrasion, you can clean it as best you can, then take a warm, slightly salinic bath. Clean the wound well with soap, and gently pat dry. Great substitution for first aid ointment if you are in a pinch.
Unless you are doing extreme work in an extreme location, don’t let your first aid kit take up too much space or money in your travel life. Cover your basics to buy yourself an extra day before seeking assistance or save an extra $10 (or more!) in late night pharmacy fees. Pack light, but make sure you’re safe and comfortable on the road. And don’t forget to raid the kitchen cupboards for some inspiration!
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