Summer travel: Packing your first aid kit

Summer travel with kids The summer travel season is almost upon us and you better believe I’m doing my happy dance right now. In fact, I don’t know whose more ready for school to be over: Me or my eight- and eleven-year-old.

Right now I’ve got all our summer travel booked and organized, so this week before school ends I’ll be spending some time buying supplies, including cleaning out and restocking my first aid kits, which are indispensable items for families on the go.

What I pack in my summer travel first aid kit 

Bandages, disinfecting wipes, and antibiotic gel.  The beginning of summer is a great time to stock up on various bandages (and of course these days they come with a variety of fun cartoon characters on them, which eases the pain as much as a kiss) as well as first aid tape. I also make sure my kit has disinfecting wipes and antibiotic lotion to prevent infection in dirty cuts.

Sunblock of various varieties. I like to toss some broad-spectrum, chemical suncreen of SPF 30 or greater into the first aid kit so that I remember to reapply it. Usually I pack both the spray and cream variety.

Bug spray. Since both of my boys have had Lyme disease, I’m religious about always applying bug spray with 10 percent of DEET. Having it in the first aid kit means I can reapply after a swim or a particularly sweaty hike. 

Kid-formulated pain relief and antihistamines. I pretty much always have some kid strength acetaminophen and ibuprofen in my bag, but in the summer I also add a kid-friendly antihistamine to the mix. On more than one occasion when my children have been stung by flying insects I’ve given them an antihistamine right away and the pain and swelling disappear much faster. If your kids have seasonal allergies, you might also want to add any over-the-counter medication that your doctor has recommended.

Tweezers. I don’t know about your children, but mine like nothing better in the summer than to remove their shoes, no matter what surface they will be walking on. Nothing comes in handier than a pair of tweezers when a splinter of wood or small stone has gone where it shouldn’t. They are also useful for removing stingers.

Instant ice packs. Nothing feels better for a kid who’s taken a tumble or been stung than applying some cold to the spot right away; this also helps with swelling.

An index card with important information on it. Our pediatrician’s phone number is programmed into my cell phone, but I also write it on an index card along with our insurance information and (when I’m really organized and think to look them up in advance – I’ll admit I don’t always think to do this) the numbers for the nearest urgent care clinics when I’m on the road. When I travel abroad, I also make sure I know and write down the equivalent phone number for 911.

Generally my approach at the beginning of the summer season is to buy both full- and travel-sized versions of the liquid items on this list; that way I can create a first aid kit that works for both road trips as well as carry-on airplane travel. I make one big kit for our car and another smaller one that can be tossed into a backpack for hikes or bike rides. Those plastic pouches you use to pack your toiletries in make great receptacles for traveling first aid kits.

Hopefully you won’t often need your first aid kit, but I’ve certainly found that the best approach to family travel is to be prepared. And now I’m curious – is there anything I’m missing here? I’d love to read any suggestions you might have. And if you’re interested in seeing more packing tips, please check out my post on how to pack only carry-on bags for family travel.

Be sure also to check out Travel Tips Tuesday at Walking On Travels and Suitcases and Sippycups.

This post was written in conjunction with my relationship with VacationRoost as one of its ambassadors.

Reader Responses

13 fellow travelers had this to say

  1. What great advice. I always remember the sunscreen, but that ice pack idea is awesome. Thanks!

  2. Just last summer, I finally added sunscreen and bug spray to the first aid kit that stays in my car. This has been so helpful when we made an unplanned stop for a walk or beach visit. It has also helped when I completely forgot to slather sunscreen before going out!

  3. There’s so much great stuff on your blog that we couldn’t resist adding you to our latest web wrap: http://www.frugalmonkey.com/travel-news/frugal-monkeys-web-wrap-7-june-2013.html. Love your work!

  4. I know you’re in pines more than cactus, but for a
    desert hike pack a small comb. Best tool for sticker removal.

  5. Great tips, I’ve been slowly building up my first aid kid for the last few months in preparation for summer vacation. Now, I’ve got a few more things to add to it :)

  6. Thanks for the great share on putting together the first aid kit. While I have all the items, they certainly aren’t in one place and there is always that stressful hunt when you need them! We are preparing for summer vacation season too and I wrote a blog on the “8 Essential Items to Pack for Vacation” and we produced a funny family video on getting your car road ready for a trip. I’d love to share them! You can see them at the following links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDzTfYyn9ms&feature=youtu.be. http://destinationsafety.com/8-essential-items-to-pack-for-vacation/

  7. Thanks for this post on first aids kits while travelling. I think some parents may find your list of items to be good reminders of what they may want to take with them.

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