Not all heroes wear capes or work in hospitals. For example, consider paramedics and EMTs. Even though they work everywhere from sporting events to shopping centers, and don’t have all the tools and machines at their disposal that doctors have, they can do a lot — with very little — to save lives. Their secret? Behind every good first responder is a well-equipped kit.
Similarly, every traveler can benefit from carrying a few medical supplies in their carry-on or in their car. Yes, it can be hard to justify dedicating space to items you may not use (and hopefully, you never need them). But much like you wouldn’t cruise without a life jacket or fly without an oxygen mask, you shouldn’t travel without essentials that can make your time away from home more comfortable and potentially, be all the difference between life and death.
If that sounds dramatic, just talk to a paramedic. From adults bleeding out to kids breaking out in hives, they’ve seen it all. And If the idea of assembling your own mini paramedic kit for travel sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. Travel & Leisure recently spoke with several paramedics and medical professionals. Here are 12 products, all available on Amazon starting at just $4, that they recommend packing for your next trip.
Holii Pill Organizer
Forget your kit for a second. First and foremost, Mark Browne, the paramedic and President and Chief Operating Officer of NDP EMS, says it’s important to remember your prescription medications. “Replacing meds forgotten at home can be difficult,” Browne told T+L. Furthermore, he recommends packing extra pills, in case you encounter travel delays.
This best-selling pill organizer at Amazon has nearly 11,000 five-star reviews and is a great tool for packing individual pills if you don’t want to bring entire bottles. It features eight compartments and comes with pre-made and blank sticky labels so you’ll know exactly which pills are in each compartment.
“This fits my needs and it was above my expectations,” wrote one shopper who decided to try this pill organizer after it was recommended by flight attendants. Of course, you don’t need to use it for prescriptions. It’s also great for storing vitamins, over-the-counter meds, and even spare earrings.
Tweezer Guru Tweezers
Browne, a dad who loves to travel by rail, also never goes anywhere without a pair of tweezers. “They come in handy for many things, but particularly for ticks that get embedded,” he explains. These stainless steel Tweezer Guru Tweezers, which are currently 50 percent off and have more than 41,400 five-star ratings, are sharp enough for even the most stubborn ingrown hair. They’re available in 10 fun colors, too. While they don’t come with a travel case, they do come with protective tip covers that keep the tips sharp while in transit.
Of course, these tweezers don’t just work on blood-sucking bugs and unruly brows. A shopper who works with lumber a lot left this review: “If you’re looking for tweezers that can pull out almost any splinter you got stuck in your skin, look no further.”
Clever Health Instant Cold Packs
Ice is great, but it’s not easy to travel with, and it can be hard to find, especially if you’re traveling off the beaten path. For that reason, Browne recommends slipping a disposable instant cold pack or two in your bag. “They’re perfect to manage a headache or minor pain from a fall,” he says.
These Clever Health Instant Cold Packs have more than 2,700 five-star ratings, and they don’t require any refrigeration. To activate them, simply squeeze until the bag inside pops. Then, shake the pack. In a few seconds, it will be cool to the touch and ready to treat your injury.
“My son has tendinitis and was going on a trip where he did a lot of walking,” wrote one parent in their five-star review. “The ice packs were perfect for him to use at night to ease the pain.”
Band-Aid Brand Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages
Meanwhile Ken Martin, a paramedic and the Assistant Director of Operations at NDP EMS believes a little Band-Aid can go a long way. “They do wonders for small children upset by minor bumps and bruises,” he says. Of course, he likes them because they protect wounds from getting infected, too. These particular Band-Aid adhesive bandages have nearly 40,000 five-star ratings and an impressive 4.8-star average rating. They’re also an Amazon number one best-seller. (While you can get adhesive bandages in convenient travel packs, it’s a much better deal to buy them in bulk.)
“They won’t unravel or fall apart after washing your hands!” wrote one shopper who called them the “armored knights of the first aid kingdom.” In addition to being durable, the fabric they’re made out of is super flexible, so they won’t come off even if they’re in a tricky spot like a knuckle or a knee.
Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes
There’s pretty much no excuse for bad hand hygiene when you’re traveling according to Miami-Dade Fire Department Lieutenant Tina Guiler. The paramedic of 24 years and founder of the Triple F Foundation, a non-profit supporting female first responders, recommends every traveler pack hand wipes.
While there are many to choose from, these Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes kill 99.9 percent of bacteria and germs and have more than 13,800 five-star ratings. In fact, they’re so popular that more than 10,000 were sold last month alone. For $19, you get 20 travel-sized packs containing 10 wipes each. Each pack boasts Wet Ones’ signature Wet Lock Seal which ensures they won’t dry out, even if they’re left in a hot car.
And unlike hand sanitizer, Wet Ones are always TSA-friendly and can be used for a variety of purposes. Just take it from this savvy shopper: “I use them when traveling to wipe surfaces around me in an airplane, wipe grocery cart handles before shopping, and to hold the pump at the gas station.”
LuxoGear Emergency Whistles
If you think only referees and lifeguards need whistles, think again. “Using your voice to call for help during an emergency can cause your energy to deplete more quickly, potentially reducing your chances of survival,” Gavin Dawson, a Physician Assistant who works for Global Emergency Medics tells Travel & Leisure. That’s why he always travels with an emergency whistle. These LuxoGear Emergency Whistles have more than 5,100 five-star ratings and are so loud they can be heard from more than a mile away.
One traveler who left a five-star review called their LuxoGear Emergency whistle a “life-saver” after they got separated from their group in Zion National Park. Fortunately, they were able to reunite with their companions who also had whistles and were able to whistle back to share their location. Of course, these whistles also come in handy for scaring off predators, too.
Nuun Sport Electrolyte Tablets
It’s hard to stay hydrated on the go. That’s why Katie McCann, a retired HCPC paramedic recommends traveling with electrolyte tablets. They contain ingredients like sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium to help your body hydrate faster. “They’re especially helpful in hot climates or after physical exertion,” she says. These Nuun Sport Electrolyte Tablets boast more than 28,400 five-star ratings and are ranked fifth on Amazon’s list of Best Sellers in Sports Nutrition Electrolyte Replacement Drinks. They come in a four-pack with each TSA-friendly (and pocket-friendly) tube containing 10 tablets.
“I’m an international flight attendant, and I use this to maximize my hydration,” wrote one shopper who said they’re encouraged to drink more water because Nuun is so tasty. The tablets, which are vegan and sweetened with stevia, come in flavors like tropical, strawberry lemonade, and fruit punch.
Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First Aid Kit
McCann also never leaves home without her Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First Aid Kit. “It’s compact and contains essentials for treating minor injuries.” While there are tons of first aid kits out there, this particular kit has 9,400 five-star ratings and is a best-seller at Amazon. It’s a great choice for travelers because you get two kits for the price of one. The larger kit, which has 120 medical-grade items including antiseptic wipes, trauma shears, blister relief pads, and a sewing kit, is perfect for road trips. Meanwhile the mini kit, which has an additional 32 items including first aid tape, a CPR mask, and sting relief pads, will easily fit in your purse.
One traveler’s review reads, “You get everything you’d expect from a travel first aid kit and it’s organized nicely and in a way that it doesn’t become a puzzle trying to put things back.”
Neosporin Original Antibiotic Ointment
While she’s not a paramedic, Dr. Edna Skopljak, is an M.D. and knows that every paramedic’s kit, and traveler’s bag, needs antibiotic ointment. “It’s a must to ensure that wounds heal without complications,” Dr. Skopljak tells us. She prefers Neosporin Original Antibiotic Ointment. It has a 4.8-star average rating from more than 53,000 ratings and is the top-seller on Amazon’s list of Best Sellers in First Aid Ointments. When you use Neosporin on cuts, scrapes, and burns, you can rest assured that they’ll be protected from infections for 24 hours. And because antibiotic ointment helps wounds heal faster, there’s less risk of scarring.
Since this tube holds just one ounce, it’s also TSA-friendly. “This was perfect for my daughter’s trip to Europe and kept a really bad bite from getting infected while she was over there,” recalled one shopper.
Benadryl Allergy Ultra TAB 100
Kean Christensen, an EMT in Montana, is one of several medical professionals who says it’s always wise to have an antihistamine on hand. “Benadryl is the gold standard,” said Christensen, an avid camper and father of three. “It can treat a lot of allergic reactions whether they’re caused by plants, food, or bug bites.” While it’s available in gel capsules and a liquid, these easy-to-swallow tablets have an impressive 4.8-star average rating from more than 42,400 ratings on Amazon, and they’re suitable for ages six and up.
Another use for Benadryl? Because its active ingredient is diphenhydramine HCl, it can also be used as a sleep aid (consult your doctor first so you know how much to take) which comes in handy when you’re crossing time zones. “Also good for traveling on long plane trips” is the title of one five-star review.
According to Matt Strain, a Billings-based firefighter and first responder, ideally everyone has a tourniquet in their bag. “When used properly, it controls bleeding.” Still, he points out that it’s often more practical to travel with combat gauze which works to slow heavy bleeding, too. Amazon’s best-selling QuikClot Gauze is recommended by doctors, law enforcement, and the military. Because these travel-friendly patches contain kaolin, a mineral that speeds up your body’s natural clotting, you’ll notice bleeding stops up to five times faster.
On Amazon, QuikClot Gauze has more than 6,700 five-star ratings and is so popular that more than 4,000 were sold last month alone. One review from a traveler reads,“My husband was on several different blood thinners and this was a must to have in my travel first aid kit. It saved the day a number of times when he fell or scratched himself.”
ACE 3-inch Elastic Bandage With Clips
More than 4,000 ACE 3-inch Elastic Bandage With Clips were also sold last month. Personally, Strain is a big fan of ACE bandages because they’re so versatile. “Despite being incredibly lightweight, ACE bandages can be used to provide support and reduce swelling whether you’ve injured a muscle or a joint,” he explains. On Amazon, the ACE 3-inch Elastic Bandage With Clips has more than 1,600 five-star ratings. It’s a best-seller because it comes with easy-to-use innovative hooks that keep the bandage in place.
One satisfied shopper summed it up nicely: “They hit the nail on the head with the stretchy hooks. I hate the old-fashioned clip hooks, but used them because that’s what I knew. These new hooks are the way to go!”
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