Why should I take a health kit when travelling?
A basic travel health kit is important no matter where you travel. First aid supplies and medications may not always be readily available in other countries or may be different from those available in Canada.
A good travel health kit contains enough supplies to prevent illness, handle minor injuries and illnesses, and manage pre-existing medical conditions for longer than the duration of your trip.
What should I pack in my travel health kit?
Basic first aid items
It is essential to know how and when to use the first aid supplies in your kit. You may consider taking a first aid course before you travel.
You may want to include:
- Adhesive bandages (multiple sizes) and adhesive tape
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Antiseptic wound cleanser (for example, alcohol or iodine pads)
- Blister pads or moleskin
- Disposable latex or vinyl gloves
- Packets of oral rehydration salts
- Safety pins and scissors
- Tensor bandages for sprains
- Tweezers for removing ticks, splinters etc.
Travelling with medications
Discuss the use of medications with your health care provider before departure and carefully follow the directions for use, including dosage and when to seek medical care. Bring more than enough medication to last your entire trip. Consult our Travelling with medications and What you can bring on a plane pages for more information.
Here is a basic list of medications to be included in your travel health kit:
- Any prescription or over-the-counter medication you normally use
- 1% hydrocortisone cream to treat minor skin irritation, such as itching caused by bug bites or poison ivy
- Allergy medication, such as an antihistamine, or epinephrine prescribed by your doctor, such as an Epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen®)
- Anti-diarrheal medication
- Anti-motion sickness medication
- Antifungal and antibacterial ointments or creams to apply to wounds to prevent infection.
- Cold and flu medications, such as decongestants, cough suppressants or throat lozenges
- Pain and fever medication, such as acetylsalicylic acid (e.g., Aspirin®), ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®), or acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®)
- Stomach and intestinal medication, such as antacids and laxatives
- If recommended, destination-specific medication, like those for malaria or high-altitude sickness
- If you need to use needles or syringes, take more than enough to last for your entire trip and carry a medical certificate from your health care provider explaining that the needles or syringes are for medical use.
You may include these items depending on personal preference, destination, and activities:
- Aloe gel for sunburns
- Adequate supply of condoms
- Ear plugs to reduce noise or stop contaminated water from entering the ear canal
- Extra pair of glasses or contacts (or a copy of your prescription)
- Insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin
- Mosquito net
- Saline eye drops
- Water purification filter or tablets
Carry a card with the following information in case of a medical emergency:
- Name, address, and phone number of a family member or friend in Canada
- Name and phone number of your health care provider in Canada
- Address and phone number of your accommodations at your destination(s)
- Address and phone number of hospitals or clinics at your destination(s)
- Address and phone number of the Canadian Embassy, Consulate, or High Commission in your destination country/countries (you might also consider carrying the Emergency Contact Card)
- Emergency contact phone number from your travel health insurance provider
Before you go, don’t forget to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service and stay connected to Canada in case of an emergency abroad or at home.
Proof of your insurance coverage
Always carry proof of your health insurance coverage when travelling. Consult our page on travel insurance for more information.
Carry a copy of your immunization record in your travel health kit. Include your original International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis for yellow fever, if you have one.
For a printer-friendly travel health kit checklist, click here.
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