Rich’s World-Famous First Aid Kit
So I’m paddling along in a canoe in the Amazon rainforest, with every sense so keenly – almost obsessively – attuned to signs of piranhas, electric eels, tarantulas, pit vipers and other local hazards that I neglect to get my hand out of the way when our boat smacks up against another, and I break a finger.
“What do we do?” I gasp when I can speak again.
“Whatever you want,” says our guide. “We can take the motorboat to the nearest town, but that’s two days away and they don’t have much in the way of medical facilities. Or I can take you to the local shaman.” I’d met the shaman when I bought a blowgun from him; I wasn’t convinced he was the man for the job. “Or I’ve heard there’s a tree around here that has sap that hardens into a hard shell when it dries; we could try that.” Obviously that would make the best story, but still...
And then Rich says, “I have something in my first aid kit that might help...”
Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that one. When we travel to offbeat destinations, Rich carries a vast and mysterious first aid kit that seems capable of treating anything from peevish tummies to snakebite. In the Amazon, he provided a toothache remedy to a village child, distributed moleskin patches and Itch Eraser to suffering friends, and fashioned an excellent splint for my finger out of the plastic casing that had held one of his syringes. (Yes, syringes. Luckily we’ve never needed to get an emergency injection in a village clinic that has run out of clean needles, but we’ve heard stories of people who have, and we usually carry a few with us on our more outlandish adventures, just in case.)
Yesterday, Rich granted me a rare glimpse into the inner sanctum of his medical kit, currently being restocked for this summer’s train trip through Central and Eastern Europe.
Here's what Rich is carrying these days:
Antibiotics: Cipro, Gold Bond ointment
Heat & bugs: Electrol Plus (to balance electrolytes), After Bite: The Itch Eraser, insect repellant
GI woes: DigestivAid (herbal), Citrucel, Ex-lax, Imodium, Promethegan (anti-nausea suppository)
Pain, fever, colds: thermometer, echinacea, paracetamol, Advil, Advil Congestion Relief
Cuts, wounds, blisters: Band-Aids, Nick Relief, Compeed protective strips, butterfly closures, Omnistrips, gauze, tape
Sleep aids: Quietude (homeopathic), Melatonin
Hangovers: Drink Ease (homeopathic)
Dental care: Poli-Grip (to secure any loose crowns)
Allergies: Cetirizina Cinfa, Benadryl
Emergency injections: syringes, biohazard bag to dispose of used syringes, alcohol swabs, latex gloves
Tools: tweezers with magnifying glass, eyeglass repair kit
What Rich is leaving out this time: snakebite kit, dental kit, ace bandage, moleskin (Compeed strips offer vastly superior protection from blisters) and the first aid booklet (since we now have an app for that).
Some of these supplies have been around the world with us more than once. In fact, rummaging in the depths of the bag we unearthed some Tylenol that expired in 2006, Electrol Plus that lost its punch in 2007, and latex gloves that just might date back to that Amazon trip in 1993. Rich will keep updating and tweaking his collection until the eve of our departure. And I know that somewhere along the way, in Zurich or Liptovský Mikuláš or Подгорица, or maybe all three, Rich will be saying to me, “I have something in my first aid kit that might help...”
This post was written in response to questions I've been asked about packing for long and varied trips. Unlike some of my better-organized and more practical blogger friends, I haven't obtained any free or discounted gear or supplies in return for promoting anything on this blog. I'm just letting you know what products and services Rich and I consider to be the most useful for our kind of travel. If you have any suggestions for things RIch should add to his first aid kit, we'd love to hear from you!
5/1/2013 04:39:13 am
Nice article but I don't see LifeWave's IceWave patches on the list. I don't leave home without them. I always find someone who needs them.
5/1/2013 05:14:53 am
You might be able to get a two for one on your electrolyte replacement as I have heard from my party hearty nephew that he takes that after drinking and it works a dream!
5/2/2013 12:31:29 am
That's hot news, Marjan. I'll be putting it to the test as soon as possible.
5/2/2013 12:30:36 am
Thanks for the tip, Gina. I've never heard of a product that's both homeopathic AND uses acupuncture points. I'll definitely check them out.
5/2/2013 04:21:30 am
You can check the Facebook site or send me an email and I can send you more info. Greetings from another Californian in Spain...Mallorca.
5/1/2013 05:31:19 pm
Wow, great idea. Wish I were that well organized. I don't think I even travel with Band Aids. But I should.
5/2/2013 12:33:28 am
Of course, it really depends on where you travel. When I'm in London, for instance, we certainly don't carry much, as we know we can get anything we need at the chemist down the street. But for remoter locations it can really pay off.
5/6/2013 11:35:19 am
Interesting...Keep deactivating account by accident. The button is too obvious.
7/9/2017 06:01:47 pm
I lived in the remote Amazon for 4 years. You dont need any of all that junk. The local indians get along quite well without it, ask them what they do. Tourists almost NEVER get bitten by snakes or anything else. Drink beer and the mosquitos wont bite either....famous words from a Ianomami indian to me. I wore flip flops most of the time like the local indians, much better than heavy hiking boots in the jungle.
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Winner of the 2023 Firebird Book Award for Travel
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As my regular readers know, I never get free or discounted goods or services for mentioning anything on this blog (or anywhere else). I only write about things that interest me and that I believe might prove useful for you all to know about. Whew! I wanted to clear that up before we went any further. Thanks for listening.
TO I'm an American travel writer based in Seville, Spain.
Wanderlust has taken me to more than 60 countries. Every week I provide travel tips and adventure stories to inspire your journeys and let you have more fun — and better food — on the road
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