First Aid Kit




Apart from aspirin, Alka-Seltzer and Imodium with a bit of luck you are going to make your entire trip without need of any medical provisions at all. It is always smart to be prepared though. Top of the list in preparation should be a good insurance policy but then you already know that. Right?

Even in the boondocks of Bandar Seri Begawan and dustiest Dar es Salaam you will find well-stocked chemists for unexpected ailments that might crop up – often with medicines that are better suited to local ailments (although be aware that there is a risk that they could be out of date or contaminated). Many large travel stores sell off-the-shelf first-aid kits but you will normally want to customise them to some extent and Nomad Travel & Outdoor ( is one of the best sources for specialist advice.

Contents will change depending on your destination and style of travel but use this list to cherry-pick the most important items to include in your.

  • Plasters and Compeed (blister sealers)
  • Aspirin – can be useful for releasing tropical fevers (but never to be taken if you think you might have dengue as it thins the blood dangerously)
  • Paracetamol and Ibuprofen (the former is painkiller and the latter an effective anti-inflammatory)
  • Rehydration Sachets – for counteracting the effects of diarrhoea but can also be used as an to replace salts and minerals lost during long treks (and for disguising the taste of water purifying tablets)
  • Piriton antihistamine (anti-allergenic – but to be taken with care since it makes some people drowsy)
  • Ciprofloxalin – probably the most versatile treatment for severe travellers’ diarrhoea
  • Hydrocortisone cream for treating infected bites
  • Daktarin powder for treating athletes foot or various types of jungle rot that is a result of trekking in humid climates
  • Iodine tincture – increasingly hard to find (try Nomad) but has the benefit of being used not only to disinfect small cuts but also as a backup water-purifier (1 drop per litre).
  • Clove oil – for toothache
  • Tiger balm (buy it in Thailand) – calms irritated mosquito bites and deters leeches and ticks
  • Antiseptic wipes and gloves
  • crepe bandage, wound closure strip, wound dressing and burn dressings
  • Scissors, tweezers and safety pins
  • Sterile hospital equipment pack including needles, syringes and lancets
  • Water purification tablets (can include taste neutraliser but in effect this is usually just citrus, so you can use local limes or lemons)
  • Mosquito repellent roll-on (less waste than spray). Soak repellent into a regular sweatband until it is well soaked and you have a permanent reservoir of the stuff with you
  • Sunscreen – at least SPF15
  • Thermometer (maybe disposable)
  • Condoms – can (also) be used to keep finger wounds clean and to keep a roll of emergency cash dry. And, in a dire emergency, a condom can be used to carry a litre of water!




by Mark Eveleigh