Posted by: Ciaran | January 17, 2010

In my case – Medical supplies

What you need medically varies, and is as much dependent on the individual (if, for instance, you need prescription medication or have an ongoing condition such as diabetes which requires specified daily treatments) as the location.

Before you even book, check out which – if any – vaccinations and tablets you will require for your trip.  You can do a lot of this online (TravelDoctor has a tabulated system of ‘tabs and jabs’) but the simplest thing to do is visit your GP who can advise.  Some surgeries have specific travel nurses to recommend and administer immunisations. 

The other thing to remember is that while a lot of them are free, some jabs are expensive (the rabies vaccine, for instance, is £90), as are malaria tablets.  For the latter, it depends on where you are going, how long for and what you can afford.  The most expensive brands, such as Malarone and Doxycycline, are generally seen as the best but I used chloroquine and proguanil (bought over the counter in Boots) and they were great.  Don’t believe the horror stories about the side-effects; it’s all in the mind.

Here’s a quick checklist of things to think about when packing up a first-aid kit.  Feel free to add any that I’ve missed in the comments below.

  • Blister plasters and rescue cream for your feet.
  • Mosquito repellent – make sure you’ve got at least 50 per cent DEET if you’re going somewhere tropical.  Depending on where you’re going and the type of accommodation you’re staying in, you might also want to think about a mosquito net.  There are a number of other anti-mosquito measures, from wristbands to plug-ins; a lot of them can be found here.  My personal choice is the mosquito bite zapper.
  • Suncream and aftersun.
  • Travel sickness tablets.
  • Anti-histamine.
  • Diarrhoea tablets – just remember to be sparing in their use.  Get treatment as soon as possible for the condition itself as all Imodium does is temporarily stops the symptoms.
  • Hand sanitising gel.  One of the world’s great inventions.
  • Your own syringes, dental needles and dressings; these can be bought in small first-aid kits from surgeries and are ideal to carry with you if you’re going somewhere that you can’t rely on sterile medical equipment.  Ask your GP or travel nurse.


  1. Perfect – a one-stop shop for medical essentials. Particularly useful was the link to TravelDoctor for the jabs needed per country. Great that Bach’s Rescue Cream was mentioned too 🙂

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