As the holiday season gets underway, many of us are kept busy packing, planning and getting ready to embark upon a well-earned break. Whether you are jetting off somewhere exotic or staying closer to home, a crucial part of pre-holiday planning is making first aid provisions. Here are four questions to help you prepare for the worst.
Where are you going?
Clearly, the kind of first aid you will need will depend upon where you are going on holiday. You will need to pack a more comprehensive kit, for example, if you are venturing into more remote areas. Find out what shops and facilities you can expect to find. Major cities will be well serviced with shops, clinics, doctors and hospitals, so you can cut back a bit and concentrate instead on packing prescription medicine and other items that might be harder to get hold of, as well as a few simple items, such as plasters, anti-histamine, painkillers and after-sun lotion. Check carefully for restrictions on what you can take if you are traveling abroad, especially when it comes to airport or seaport security.
How long will you be there for?
Don't bring large bottles or packets if you can decant a few supplies into smaller containers that will last you for the few days you are away. This may be compulsory with liquids and creams in any case, to meet the legal hand luggage liquid capacity allowance of 100ml. If you are on prescription medication, however, it is wise to bring some extra in case your journey home is delayed. Always keep medication in your hand luggage. If you are planning a longer stay, speak to your doctor to find out the best way to plan your medicine while you are there. A simple first aid kit is advisable, but again, don't pack too much if you are only away for a short while.
Who are you going with?
Make sure you are aware of anything relevant in the medical history of your holiday companions, especially if they need regular tablets, injections or inhalers. Know everyone's dietary requirements too, for example gluten or dairy intolerances. Allergies are also key; make sure anyone affected has the right medication, either by packing it or being able to buy it when they get there. If anyone in your party gets travel sick, pack tablets or travel bands to help ease their discomfort on the journey. In countries where you don't speak the language, carrying a card with the name of any conditions translated into the local tongue might save valuable time in the event of a medical emergency. Carry any prescribed epipens or inhalers on you at all times.
What common minor ailments might you encounter?
Again, this depends on where you are going, but some common holiday illnesses, such as constipation, diarrhoea and heartburn can be caused by unfamiliar food or less than perfect cleanliness in restaurant kitchens. Packing tablets to cope with this eventuality, as well as a few rehydration sachets may save you from a prolonged, unpleasant experience. Water purification tablets can offer reassurance in more remote areas and anti-histamines can help you cope with unusual plants, bugs or animals causing rashes, itching and other allergic symptoms. It also wise to pack a small tube of antiseptic cream for minor insect bites, cuts and scratches and to pack a tick remover if you are going to be walking in long grass or spending time in forests or the jungle.