No, that picture wasn’t taken in 1979. I just forgot to set the white balance on my camera. See, everyone? This is why I’m obsessive about white balance!
What you see above is the standard kit I pack every time I go abroad. In fact, most of the stuff in that kit has already traveled to at least a handful of countries. Fortunately, I haven’t had to use it! However, not only do I like being prepared just in case of emergency, I also like caring for eighteen-year-old backpackers who left home woefully ill-prepared and now don’t know what to do with their blistered feet. So what’s in my first aid kit? I’ll take you through it clockwise from the top left, in a spiral just like a cinnamon bun!
- Bug spray. This formula is relatively low in DEET as I don’t plan to visit any areas with malaria, dengue fever or other serious mosquito-transmitted diseases.
- Hand sanitizer. This is a random spray bottle of hand sanitizer; I’ll have more purse-sized bottles as well. Look for unscented for the airplane (and avoid Bath and Body Works scented hand sanitizers in enclosed spaces at all costs!).
- Moist towelettes, for scrubbing dirt and grime off my hands before disinfecting. Also helpful for mid-day dirty feet tidying.
- Green pills- anti-diarrhea medication. I’ve never had to take it but I’ve shared it with sick friends.
- Alcohol wipes to sanitize wounds, should wounding occur.
- Antibiotic ointment to protect and help heal cuts.
- Hydrocortisone cream to treat itching after bug bites (or Eastern European laundry detergent).
- The mysterious white case. Inside this envelope are a few condoms and- take note- the morning after pill (also known as Plan B or emergency contraception). I have been sexually assaulted while abroad before, though fortunately I haven’t been raped. So far. I carry condoms in case I choose to have sex, and I carry Plan B in case I don’t choose to have sex.
- Bandages. Big, small, fabric, plastic… bandages galore!
- Moleskine. A friend got me hooked on this- you just cut out a little square and stick it on your feet anywhere that shoes are rubbing in a way that might cause future blisters.
- Tabcin. This is South American cold medication that you dissolve in water and drink. It’s the most effective way I’ve found to treat cold symptoms.
- Yellow pills – paracetamol. Painkillers. There will be pain.
- Red tablets – lozenges in case of sore throat.
- Small pink pills – Benadryl. An antihistamine in case of allergies and a “worst case scenario” sleep aid. Do not take at the airport while waiting for a flight!
In retrospect, it might have been easier to explain them by row! Next time!