Our Travel First Aid Kit

The holidays are over and it is time for Pam and I to take our annual vacation. Here are a few items we take along to manage ailments while away.

HUGE DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor of animals or humans. The information in this blog is based on experience, reference materials and the advice of professionals.

I am extremely allergic to bee/hornet/wasp stings. This summer I was stung in the neck. Now, I do carry an Epi-pen (auto-injector of epinephrine, a synthetic adrenaline) but I passed out before being able to administer it. Luckily, Pam was by my side and was able to stab me in the leg and call 911. Before I knew it, I was on my way to the hospital in an ambulance, where I was pumped full of steroids, saline and Benadryl. After 5 hours I was on my way back home by taxi, all better.  We did learn a valuable lesson and that was when far from a hospital, one Epi-pen is not enough. So now we travel with 3, one I carry, one Pam carries and one in reserve. Better safe than sorry, or worse.

Traveling to foreign lands usually means foreign insects, especially the biting kind. From experience, we have learned that Benedryl (diphenhydramine hydrochloride) is an essential for our traveling first aid kit. A week prior to our departure, we take one tablet (25mg) per day (as suggested by our doctor) and one tablet per day, every day of travel. We have found that our reactions to insect bites are not so severe and then if we do have a bad reaction, one additional tablet will usually clear things up. Interestingly enough, Benedryl is safe for pets (except liquid Benedryl which contains alcohol) should they have an allergic reaction, especially to insect bites. Children under 6 months of age should never be given Benedryl and I would suggest that goes for puppies and kittens. It is suggested that 10-12mg/20 pounds of body weight is safe for pets. With our dog Floozee, I am more conservative, giving her 1 tablet (25mg), even though she is close to 100 pounds if she has a swelling nose due to deer fly bites. If the reaction persists, it is best to seek out a professional whoever the patient.

For cuts, abrasions and rashes, we bring hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds, Polysporin (antibiotic ointment/cream) to treat wounds and calamine lotion to sooth itch. All products can also be used on animals, but animals do have the tendency to lick their wounds, so you have to watch that. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to induce vomiting, but always consult a professional first to see if this is the right thing to do.

Pain relievers such as Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid/ASA), Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen/paracetamol) are always in our kit. I have had blood clot/DVT problems in the past (I know, I’m a mess) so I take 81mg of Aspirin a day. Unfortunately, these pain relievers can be toxic to animals, especially puppies and cats. So as with any medication, if you drop a pill on the floor, it is best to get on your hands and knees and find the pill before your fur-baby does.

Rounding out our kit are bandages, tweezers, scissors and a Swiss Army knife (you never know when you need to MacGyver something, or need a cork screw). You know the saying, plan for the worse and hope for the best.