A travel health kit should preferably be carried by travellers. For broader discussion of health issues, see Stay healthy.
You may not be able to purchase, or even require all the items on this list (depending on where you are and where you are travelling), and in some cases you may need a doctor's prescription to avoid having the items confiscated by border police or customs officers if your bags are inspected. If in doubt, consult a competent medical professional for advice.
Many people have different ideas on what is necessary for them - some people take more, others are better at improvisation.
- Regular medication: If you are on any regular medication, take a good supply with you, together with a copy of the prescription. Make sure it's carried in hand luggage on planes. The prescription will help if you do need to replace it, or if customs are unsure what it is.
- Antidiarrhea: Loperamide (e.g. Imodium) is the most common form of anti-diarrheal medicine for over-the-counter use. Never use it if there is blood in the feces - this could be an indication of something much more serious and requires immediate medical attention. see also Travellers' diarrhea.
- Anti-inflammatory: Ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen) is good both as an anti-inflammatory and also as a general analgesic (pain killer). Other people prefer to use Paracetamol (acetaminophen), or an Aspirin/Paracetamol combination.
- Note, however, that if dengue fever is a possibility then neither ibuprofen nor aspirin should be taken since either increases the risk of dangerous complications. Paracetamol is safer, but if you are in a dengue-risk area (most of the tropics), the safest course is not to self-medicate; consult a doctor instead.
- Sunscreen: You are likely more exposed to the sun when traveling than during your normal routine back home. Sun burn can cause high discomfort and fatigue which is mostly avoidable with sunscreen (and a hat). An after-sun lotion containing aloe might help too. See also Sunburn and sun protection.
- Adhesive bandages: Open cuts can become infected, especially when traveling. Clean the cut, cover up and continue your travels. Also useful for covering blisters on your feet.
- Anti-bacterial: Neosporin, for example, handy to have for treating popped blisters, cuts, and burns once they have cooled; this will help to prevent infections. An alternative which can be bought in most destinations is hydrogen peroxide solution, but be sure to get the 3% mix normally used in first aid not the somewhat dangerous 15% mix used by dentists.
- Insect repellent: Insect bites can cause discomfort, but also potentially infection and disease as well. Plan ahead, as in many areas where mosquitoes and other insects are a significant problem, effective DEET-based repellents cannot be bought locally.
- Condoms: HIV and hepatitis are much more common in some parts of the world, and unprotected sex with an unfamiliar partner is highly risky anywhere — and much riskier without a condom. Female travelers who use contraceptive pills should also carry condoms as even minor stomach upsets can decrease the pill's effectiveness.
- Proof of your health insurance coverage: Even if you're only taking a day trip across the border of a friendly country, the insured health care at your destination will not be the same as it is at home. Purchase the best health, life and disability coverage that you can afford, and keep a copy of the insurance details in your travel health kit along with your other health information. Of course in the European Union you'll mostly be covered across the border as well.
Off the beaten path
If you are going away from major towns and cities where medical help may not be accessible, you might like to consider taking a more complete first aid kit. Make sure you have the knowledge to use it, too! Consider water purification tables, sterile sets, and so on.
Also, travelers may wish to take a comprehensive first aid course if traveling for an extended amount of time in a rural area. The knowledge from courses such as Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder can come in handy when away from hospitals.
Many countries and venues restrict the carrying of knives, scissors and other sharp objects which might be included in a travel health kit.
Countries with harsh anti-drug laws might outlaw painkillers and other medication.