November 24, 1996

Hope For The Best; Prepare For The Worst

Knight-Ridder
 

You’ve studied the maps, memorized the guidebooks and double-checked the hotel reservations.

Are you ready to go? Maybe not.

The problem is, unexpected things can - and do - happen.

You’re exploring the back side of an unfamiliar ski hill when your heel grows a half-dollar-sized blister. Montezuma takes his revenge. You slash your thumb on a corkscrew … wake up with a hangover … catch a cold.

If you’re a savvy traveler, that’s when you reach for your personal medical kit.

Putting together a first aid kit is a little like making soup. You start with some basics, then you add stuff that meets your special needs.

You can do it yourself. First, get a bag to put it in. A large, zip-lock refrigerator bag works. When it’s filled, put it in your car trunk, suitcase, fanny pack or duffle bag.

Here’s the basic travel physicians’ list, with a few time-tested add-ons:

Adhesive tape.

Antibacterial ointment. Neosporin is good.

Antiseptic soap. Dial.

Antidiarrheal. Imodium A-D pills are easier to carry than the liquid pink stuff.

Acid indigestion/heartburn reliever and preventive.

Adhesive bandages. Band-Aids in various sizes.

Cold medication.

Thermometer. This is mostly so you have an answer when the doctor asks, “Do you have a fever?”

Pain reliever. Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, whatever works for you.

Cotton swabs.

Gauze pads. Get the big 4X4s. You can always cut them up.

Moleskin. Nothing better for blisters in New York or the Sierras.

Quality sunglasses. If they look cool, all the better. But they should have UV-A and UV-B protection.

Insect repellent. Go ahead, get the stuff with DEET. It’s nasty, but it’s the only stuff that really works. Just wash it off as soon as you can.

Sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.

Prescription medications. These are the drugs you usually take or might need. Also in case you need refills, bring written copies of the prescriptions.

A list of health conditions - what medications you take, any allergies or known drug conflicts or interactions. This list is just in case you are not awake to answer these questions.

Not on the doctors’ list, but handy nonetheless, is a Swiss Army knife equipped with scissors to cut the gauze pads and moleskin; tweezers to pluck out, say, a splinter; a knife blade to cut tape; and a corkscrew so you can sip a little courage.


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