A gap year is a fantastic way to explore the world, learn about other culture, grow as a person and gain invaluable experience that will put you in good stead for the future – whatever it holds. If you’re getting ready to enjoy a year out before starting university, or you’re taking a little break later in life, there are several essentials that you need to pack when heading out into the world, and arguably a first aid kit is the most important.
What does a first aid kit contain?
There are no strict rules regarding what should be inside a first aid box, but most kits contain roughly the same items for helping should illness or injury arise. Here is what you can expect to find in your standard first aid kit:
- Medical plasters of different sizes and shapes
- Wound dressings
- Triangle and rolled bandages
- Safety pins
- Disposable gloves
- Splinter forceps (tweezers)
- Eye pads
- Eye wash
- Anti-bacterial wipes
For a full list of first aid kit items, visit the NHS page on first aid.
Why you need a first aid kit when travelling
Your gap year could be one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences of your life, but you need to make sure you’re safe while doing it. If you’re travelling abroad, the chances are you won’t always have access to the same health and medical care that you are used to in the UK.
If you’re moving around a lot and experiencing new cultures, taking part in outdoor activities and moving through different climates, the chances of getting ill or suffering a minor accident are increased. A first aid kit is, therefore, an incredibly useful addition to your travel supplies.
If you fall ill or suffer a minor injury, you will have the right materials with you to minimise infection and reduce the severity of the issue. If the issue is more serious and the emergency services need to be called, a first aid kit can be administered while you wait.
What can a first aid kit help with?
There are many applications for the contents of a first aid box, including:
- Cleaning and covering minor skin Injuries such as lacerations, splinters, blisters and bruises
- Washing and cleaning wounds to reduce the risk of infection
- Washing foreign bodies out of eyes
- Bandage swelling and reduce bleeding in the case of trauma
How to choose a first aid kit
There are various first aid kits available to choose from, so you may well be left wondering what First Aid Kit to buy before you set out on your travels. Well, it all depends on the type of travel you’ll be doing, where you’re travelling to and your own individual health requirements while you’re out there.
Rather than grab a standard first aid kit to cram in your backpack, have a think about what medical supplies you will personally need for your gap year. Consider whether you’re travelling solo or in a group, the climate you’ll be living in, any insects you might have to deal with, and how much walking you’re expecting to do.
Here are some of the most common reasons why you would need a first aid kit while travelling:
- blisters and sore feet from walking
- insect bites – which can get infected if the weather is hot and humid
- food poisoning or stomach upsets from trying unfamiliar cuisines
- humid conditions cause you to sweat more and make you more disposed to scrapes
- a fellow traveller may become injured or ill
What should I include in my travel first aid kit?
As well as the standard first aid equipment and materials, there are few travel-specific extras worth adding before you travel:
- Antihistamines – essential for dealing with allergic reactions such as rashes and watery eyes, which can be more frequent when travelling due to insect bites and unfamiliar plants.
- Acetaminophen – this is a mixture of paracetamol and tylenol which is great for helping reduce fevers.
- Dramamine – these pills help with motion sickness, which is great for easing travel sickness in long train and bus journeys.
- Prescription medication – if you need to take prescription medicine, stock up and ensure you keep your original prescription and all packaging with you set off for travelling.
For further information, check out the NHS page on taking medication abroad.