Medical: How to pack a travel First Aid Kit

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If you’re heading off on a tour it pays to pack your own first aid kit, more so if you’re venturing off into the wilds. Matt Snyman gives the rundown of what you should take with you

How do you pack all the things you need for an extended trip into a small bag, including basic medical and emergency care? The thing about a medical kit is that it isn’t something you have to throw out after six months of not using it. Actually, you hope to never use it, but nonetheless, there are things you need to carry should the worst happen. Here we give you our advice after 20 months on the road.

Stomach and gastro

It is inevitable that at some point you will get diarrhoea while travelling. Most of the time, it will pass with no treatment, but just in case carry some of the following:

  • Probiotics (buy over the counter): These are great to help keep your gut balanced, especially after taking a course of antibiotics, or simply for diarrhoea.
  • Flagyl (metronidazole – prescription needed): These are antibiotics that can be used to treat bacterial causes of diarrhoea, which are extremely severe, or if you cannot get a test done at the local doctor.
  • Something for heartburn – we carry a small container of Gaviscon.
  • Immodium (Loperamide – over the counter): Diarrhoea + motorcycles = not cool.
  • Buscopan (Butylscopolamine –over the counter): For cramps.
  • Maxalon (Metoclopramide – over the counter): Nausea and vomiting – possibly consider taking suppositories instead of tablets as these will not help unless you can keep them down.
  • Laxative: Constipation is arguably worse than diarrhoea.

Infections and flu

  • Augmentin (amoxicillin + clavulanic acid – prescription usually required): A broad-spectrum antibiotic that we carry for emergency infections or because we don’t want to pay to visit a GP. This strong antibiotic can be used for anything from pneumonia to abscesses, to urinary tract infections. Please remember this will not work for viral infections and you should always finish the five-day course (unless you plan on creating a super-bug).
  • Canestin cream (cotrimoxazole –over the counter): For thrush.
  • Lamisil (Terbinafine ointment): In case of Athlete’s Foot picked up in dodgy bathrooms.
  • Vermox 500mg stat (Mebendazole – over the counter): Yes you guessed it… for worms.
  • Corenza Para C: Something to ease the symptoms of colds and flu – pick your poison or ask your GP – but ask for something that will not make you drowsy.
  • Citrus soda sachets: relief of urinary tract infections.
  • Iliadin nasal spray: a blocked nose can be a real bitch.

Malaria kit

  • Malaria Prophylaxis: We carry Doxycycline 100mg daily as it is the cheapest and has the most tolerable side effects (increased sunburn). It can be bought in all Malaria prone countries without a prescription and is much cheaper out of the UK and the US. Luckily it is also the treatment for tick-bite fever and if you’re that way inclined….STDs
  • Malaria rapid test kits: These are vital if you are travelling through Malaria areas and may be far from healthcare. They can be bought at most travel clinics and come with instructions.
  • Co-artem (artemether/lumefantrine) tablets/Malaria treatment: Get enough to cover five days so you can start treatment en route to a medical facility. always seek medical care for Malaria.
1025 Trek First Aid Kit [Open]
1025 Trek First Aid Kit [Open]


  • Adrenaline: For dire emergencies involving anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions) or shock. For the non-medically inclined you need to get an Epi-pen prescribed to you, unfortunately, it’s crazy expensive, so only get it if you have a severe allergy (Epi-pen is about 80 USD, where the adrenaline we carry is only one US cent).
  • Prednisone 5mg tablets: For allergic reactions (prescription needed).
  • Mosquito forceps: Can be used to clamp closed a bleeding vessel or even as a tool while working on the bike.
  • Artery forceps: Used for the above, or for stitching.
  • Scissors: Cuts clothes, stitches, bandages and even Megan’s hair.
  • Thermometer.
  • Lignocaine: Local anaesthetic for sutures (prescription needed).
  • Burnshield dressings variety: for all sorts of burns. With a hot exhaust around you can’t be without this.
  • Sterile blades.
  • Steri-strips – stitchless wound closure for small wounds or for those who can’t stitch.
  • Variety of sutures – for those who can.
  • Opsite: sterile cover for wounds.
  • Jagermeister: (no prescription needed) – we finished ours and its replacement already so it is not seen in the picture.
  • Rehydrate: Important for dehydration, drink when experiencing diarrhoea or vomiting.
  • Condoms: variety of uses apart from the obvious.
  • Syringes: for administering lignocaine, adrenaline or removing splinters.
  • Savlon: General antiseptic solution
  • Tampon: also a variety of uses, including stopping a bleeding nose while your friends laugh at you.
  • Dental floss: For floss or emergency suture material.
  • Bandage clips.
  • Safety pins.
  • CPR barrier device: for giving CPR to a stranger.
  • Rubber gloves: For working on people or bikes.
  • Space blanket: For hypothermia and shock.


We carry a variety, from mild to just below horse-tranquillizer.

  • Panado (Acetamenaphine – over the counter).
  • Tramacet (codeine and acetaminophen – prescription).
  • Oxycontin (schedule 6-7 – definitely need a prescription).
    NB: We haven’t included any asprin as I (Matthew) am allergic, otherwise it is a good idea and can be bought over the counter.


  • Tweezers.
  • Tears Naturale: For dry irritated eyes, or if you are in a weed-legal state
  • Plasters: variety.
  • Anusol: For haemorrhoids. It happens and is even less fun when you need to ride a motorcycle
  • Earbuds.
  • Betadine antiseptic ointment.
  • Gelonet: For dressing wounds where there is a risk of the gauze sticking to the wound (grazes or burns)
  • Various crepe bandages.
  • Cortisone ointment: for itches and some bites. Antihistamine cream may be a better choice.

So far this little kit has done well, and it packs fairly small. First aid kits need to be tailored to suit the person who is travelling, and their medical conditions, as well as any possible allergies. Please consult your doctor for prescriptions and to check which medications are safe for you to take. Safe riding!