Several years ago, I became certified as a wilderness EMT and decided to create my own first aid kit for family travel. I created the ultimate kit: I left nothing out, and when I was done, there was no medical emergency I was not prepared for. The only trouble: my kit was the size of a pillowcase and had cost me almost $60 to put together.
I’m often asked how to make a homemade first aid kit, but what I tell people now is: don’t. There are a number of excellent portable first aid kits for family travel on the market that are more affordable. Here are the best first aid kits we use.
Adventure Medical Kit Ultralight/Watertight Kit:
Depending on the size you select (we opt for the 1-4 people for 1-4 days size), the Ultralight/Watertight kit weighs in at under 12 ounces, and is slim and compact to boot. This is our #1 pick for outdoor travel, such as backpacking, camping, and boating. Inside the main pouch, you get two waterproof pouches with inventory lists on the side (they’re also see-through). Included is everything you need for at least a long weekend in the woods (with the exception of very few items…see below). At the top of the ‘thank goodness they thought of this’ list is: antihistamine, moleskin, duct tape, lots of bandages, after-bite itch relief. You get very few bells and whistles with this kit–no fancy organizational pockets or handles–but the best medical kit is the one you actually have with you when you need it. Pick the Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight & Watertight up on Amazon for only $26: you can’t make it for less.
Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Day Tripper:
Yep, another kit from Adventure Medical Kits. Why? Because of the extra touches: their kits are extremely well-organized, and come with either see-through lining or clearly marked categories, so you can find things fast. Also, all Adventure Medical Kits can be restocked at refillyourkit.com. No more half-empty first aid kits lying around! The Day Tripper is the perfect size for a family’s general use while traveling. Yes, you can get a bigger kit, but be careful: will you really drag it around with you? The Day Tripper weighs under a pound, and fits easily in any day pack for any sort of travel day. It serves 1-5 people. Unlike the Ultralight, it contains smaller pockets and sleeves within the kit to help you stay organized. You get everything you get in the Ultralight, plus an ace bandage and paperback medical book to use as a guide. Pick up the Adventure Medical Kits Day Tripperon Amazon for only $27.
Adventure Medical Kits Medical Kit .5:
Want to go very small and light? Don’t shy away from a medical kit designed for one person. The .5 isn’t big enough for our whole family while camping and backpacking, but it is perfect for day trips and air travel trips when space is tight. In it, you get enough bandages, tape, and gauze for several days of use, plus the same standard medications, like ibuprofen, aspirin, and antihistamine that’s in other kits. There are even a few towelettes and packs of antibiotic ointment. Best of all, this kit is only $17.
What to add to your kit:
If you’ll be in the wilderness, add the following:
- extra trauma bandages
- snakebite kit ($3-5 at your local outdoors store)
- extra antihistamine (my son recently got stung by 23 bees at once, while 5 miles from the car)
- extra moleskin
- a blister kit, such as BlisterMedic
If you’ll be traveling abroad:
- extra of all medications (in case they’re hard to find)
- hand sanitizer
- vitamins to prevent sickness, such as Vitamin C, or Cold-Eeze, which will shorten most colds