Pack these essential supplies in your travel first aid kit for kids before your next vacation! As a pediatric nurse practitioner who has traveled the world with my two children, I have carried all types of supplies with me throughout the years. I developed this list through trial and error. This list shares which essentials my kids needed most during our vacations (and what they didn’t need at all!). As an ex-pat living abroad, my recommendations include the most helpful travel first aid kit supplies for your own family vacation! Whether you’re just looking for the basics or need specific recommendations for infants, I’ve compiled this handy guide to help you out. I also included a few suggestions for parents planning long-term or remote travel. Take a look below to read my list of What to Pack in Your Family’s Travel First Aid Kit.
Basic Travel First Aid Kit Supplies for Kids
Every parent needs some kind of basic supply kit when traveling with children. Your kit doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should include these simple items. Having these items on hand will make your life a whole lot easier when an inevitable mishap occurs. (Even if it’s a tiny cut!) Plus, families traveling abroad may not be able to find their trusted or preferred brands. Having your go-to travel first aid kit essentials will ease your worries and any injuries that happen along the way. Here are a few essential supplies for your family’s travel first aid kit!
Bring prescription medication with you, even if you don’t think you’ll need it. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and you never know when an unexpected incident could happen. My daughter’s asthma once flared up on vacation after months of not needing her inhaler. We couldn’t have seen this coming! In the end, we discovered that our new rental car had caused her to wheeze. Speaking of, this also brings me to my next point: be sure to account for a shift in your environment! For example, some parents don’t think their children need ADHD medication on a family vacation, but you can never be too sure. Everything depends on where you’re going, how long you’ll be traveling, and what you’ll ultimately be doing with your children. Therefore, just bring it anyway!
Kid-Friendly OTC Medication
Kid-friendly over-the-counter medication is the next best thing to packing prescriptions! Though new experiences can be fun for families to bond, you never quite know what effects they could have on your kids. That’s why preparation is the key to a successful vacation with children! As a nurse, there are only two over-the-counter recommendations I specifically have for traveling families. Children over six months old can use Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for fevers, headaches, or teething. Remember to bring an oral dosage syringe to measure properly! An oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine, is also great for general allergies. Or, an allergic reaction like hives, ideal for little ones over a year old.
A thermometer is something you may not think to bring with you on a family vacation. But it’s especially useful if you have children who are prone to illness, even if it’s just a brief fever. Of course, traveling also takes a lot out of any normal person. Kids may feel hot or be tired from sightseeing, causing them to act out of sorts and make you worry unnecessarily. A thermometer can help you gauge the situation and pinpoint the exact issue. Having one on-hand also helps if you need to call someone for guidance. In addition, one may help prevent an unnecessary visit to urgent care to see if it really is a fever. Remember to take it after loosening clothing and leaving a hot vehicle!
Wound cleaning supplies are surely one of the most important items in your family’s travel first aid kit! As parents, we all know children accumulate cuts like it’s no tomorrow. Though it’s not always easy to prevent them from roughhousing, you can put steps in place to ease the aftermath. For one, make sure to always have sterile water, alcohol pads, bandages, and tape with you. Different size bandages are also ideal since you can never truly predict the scope of the injury. After washing the lesion with soap, covering up a scratch or small wound also keeps germs from entering. (And can help soothe some hurt emotions as well!) As a side note, tweezers are also a good tool to pack, though it may seem like something you won’t use often. However, they’re small enough to bring with you, and perfect for removing splinters or tics.
Sunscreen and Mosquito Repellent
Keeping skin safe is also an important part of traveling with children! This includes paying special attention to the products children use. Little ones over six months old should definitely practice caution in the sun, which is why I always suggest a kid-friendly sunscreen when heading outside. Even if you’re not going to the beach, merely walking around unprotected can do major damage to your epidermis. The same goes for protection from pesky mosquitos or other insects you may encounter along the way. Child-friendly repellents can prevent uncomfortable burns or even diseases like malaria. If you’re wondering what the best bug sprays for kids are, check out Families Love Travel’s comprehensive article. Or, consider an alternative to bug spray thanks to this list!
Travel First Aid Kit Supplies for Infants and Younger Children
Yes, traveling with children of all ages can be challenging. But vacationing with a baby or a toddler is an entirely different ballgame! Though I’ve already listed many essential items for your travel first aid kit for kids, there are a few more supplies particularly useful for those with younger children and infants. Here are my additional ideas to accommodate infants!
Stuffy Nose Supplies
Younger children are more susceptible to stuffy noses when traveling at high altitudes. This is why my biggest tip for traveling with kids is always to pack something to clear the noses! Overall, the Nose Frida is superior to cleaning out little nostrils, since it’s gentle and easy to transport. But, if that’s not readily available, a generic bulb works too. While you’re at it, also include saline on your shopping list. You can get this in spray form, ideal for on-the-go adventures, or try a pharmacy to find it in small vials. Alternatively, you could even make your own at home with the right ingredients! All you need is one cup of water, ½ tsp of salt, and ½ tsp of baking soda, which you can store at room temperature for three days. If you’re a new mother who’s breastfeeding, you can also use breastmilk in the nose.
Diaper Rash Cream
Diaper rash cream is another crucial component of our list of essential supplies for your travel first aid kit for kids! Assuming you’ll be going through diapers just as much or even more than when you’re at home, this also entails bringing supplies to soothe any irritation your baby may have. Parents are also no strangers to brand loyalty. As such, I recommend packing your own diaper rash cream before heading out on your next family vacation! If you need some rash cream, and don’t have any on hand, it’s not guaranteed you’ll find the brand you typically use in your final destination. The last thing you need is to be stuck roaming pharmacies in a foreign country when you could be exploring! Plus, some babies with allergies may not be accustomed to certain ointments.
Similar to bringing basic prescription medication for children of all ages, families should also consider taking medications for babies as well. Depending on where you’re heading for your family trip and your child’s health history, you may want to ask your primary care provider about two prescription medications to keep on hand. One is anti-vomiting medication such as ondansetron, which is used in some circumstances to stop cyclic vomiting to allow your child to take liquids. This helps avoid the need of receiving intravenous fluids caused by dehydration. Of course, all medications have their side effects, so you would want to balance those over the need to stop the vomiting. For those with asthma, oral steroids are also helpful, since prescribed medications may not always work. If your child has asthma, talk to your provider about this option for your next family trip.
Families should discuss current or possible prescription medications with your primary care physician before traveling. Some prescriptions are not allowed in certain countries (ADHD medication is a common example). You will want to make a plan with your primary care provider to ensure you have the proper medication for the country or countries included in your itinerary. Remember that all prescription medication should be packed in your carry-on luggage in its original container with clear original labeling.
Travel First Aid Kit Supplies for Long-Term or Remote Travel
Just like traveling with little children requires special supplies, traveling long distances as a family also calls for more attention to detail. If you plan to travel to a faraway destination that also happens to have a different culture, you’ll want to purchase these additional essential supplies for your travel first aid kit for kids. This also applies to families traveling to remote locations with kids!
Ointments are a must for any family who plans to be away for a long time! Aside from the diaper rash cream mentioned above, children of all ages can also benefit from hydrocortisone cream. Whether it’s from scratching a bug bite too much or a routine rash, a small tube of this cream can be used to relieve little ones of red, swelling, itchy skin! Antibiotic ointment is also essential if you’re vacationing in a remote area, or you’re planning to spend a lot of time outdoors. Families who love hiking should always keep a tube of antibiotic ointment on-person while exploring trails local to your destination, for example. After cleaning a wound with soap and water, putting some antibiotic ointment can prevent it from ultimately getting infected.
RICE is a proven technique designed to treat physical injuries. The acronym, which stands for Rest, Ice/Ibuprofen, Compression, and Elevation, includes four processes you should account for when traveling kids. Firstly, parents with active children should be ready with elastic bandage wraps to begin the healing process should your child fall or twist their ankle. An icepack could also be helpful in these scenarios, though this likely only applies to families who are staying in cabins, shared homes, or other accommodations from Airbnb or Vrbo. (Hotels are unlikely to have a freezer to store the ice pack, but you could always substitute with a cold pack.) Finally, don’t forget to also bring scissors with you! These come in handy for many reasons, but mostly to cut bandages and tape.
Cold Or Illness Remedies
A cold could ruin an entire vacation! To make sure your family has as much fun as possible, put preventive measures in place just in case your kid gets sick. That way, you can stop the cold in its tracks, and hopefully avoid it worsening. I’m specifically fond of natural cough and cold treatments, like honey, which alleviates coughs at bedtime for children over one-year-old. Other than that, the only over-the-counter cold remedy I trust is Hylands, which has demonstrated benefits for youngsters over 2 years old in past research. If children do get sick with vomiting or diarrhea and electrolyte drinks are not available to you, oral rehydration packets can also be mixed in water to calm their stomachs!
Travel First Aid Kit Supplies for Pandemic Protection
Traveling during the current COVID-19 pandemic obviously presents a whole host of different issues. While I’ve already gone over my essential supplies for your travel first aid kit for kids, I wanted to include a separate section for any pandemic-related items you should need on your vacation. Be sure to buy enough soap or hand sanitizer for the length of your stay. (Hand gels that aren’t alcohol-based are preferred!) Since you could also be going to a destination that may not carry what you need, also have tissues available at all times, alongside wipes with bleach to scrub down tables or trays. And remember: not everywhere will provide masks that your child feels comfortable using, so bring your own!
You can also find more Coronavirus-related travel tips for families in this Families Love Travel article, as well as this Families Love Travel Contributor article with tips from her own family vacation to Virginia.
What I Do Not Recommend in Your Travel First Aid Kit for Kids
Though this article encompasses the essential supplies I do recommend for your family’s travel first aid kit, I also want to include a few products I warn against. For example, aside from natural remedies, over-the-counter cough and cold medications are not recommended for children. Supportive care, such as bed rest, plenty of liquids, honey before sleeping (for kids over one year of age), and steamy bathrooms are what will be most beneficial to your child. The quicker you follow these precautions, the sooner you’ll be back on your feet eager to see the world! In addition to cough medication, I often advise against anti-diarrhea medications. These shouldn’t be given to children of any age! If kids are having bowel problems, keep them hydrated and seek emergency care if they stop urinating for 6 hours or more, there is blood in the stool, or it lasts more than 5-7 days.
Seek medical care if you’re concerned about COVID-19 exposure! Or, if COVID-19 symptoms (headaches, fever, vomiting, diarrhea) last longer than 7-10 days. Finally, check your medical insurance to see if they provide a 24/7 doctor or nurse line for support while traveling. Families should also review what, if any, medical coverage is provided by their insurance before traveling. At times, families consider adding coverage depending on their destination or length of stay.
We hope you’ve enjoyed contributor Maryanne Tranter’s list of What to Pack in Your Family’s Travel First Aid Kit! No matter what you pack, though, it’s always important to have a person you can call with questions. Take your primary care provider’s number with you, list of medications for your child, and their allergies. For more travel recommendations on vacationing with children, be sure to join our Facebook group Families Who Love To Travel! It’s a community of dynamic families who love to adventure and explore through travel. Plus, follow us on Instagram (@families.love.travel) to connect with other families who love the unique experiences travel has to offer!
Written by Families Love Travel Contributor, Maryanne Tranter. Find more from Maryanne at The Healthy Child Concierge or find her on Instagram @yourhealthychildconcierge.