Medical Kits

International travellers should carry a simple medical kit that allows them to manage pre-existing medical conditions and treat minor injuries and health problems related to travel. These kits either can be purchased (see below for online retail websites) or can be assembled at home.

When travelling, medical kits should always be accessible. If flying, pack medications in carry-on, along with a doctor’s note, if appropriate.

Travel Health Kit



  • A supply of prescription drugs that should last a few days longer than the duration of stay
    • Keep prescriptions in their original bottle
    • Otherwise, carry copies of written prescriptions and a physician’s note
    • For those with severe allergies, carry two epinephrine auto-injectors (such as EpiPen)

Destination-specific, if applicable:

  • Antimalarial medications, provided at pre-travel consult {include hyperlink to APPOINTMENTS page}
  • Medications for altitude illness {include hyperlink to High Altitude Illness article}

Pain or fever:

  • Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (such as Advil)

Throat and respiratory symptoms:

  • Antihistamine
  • Throat lozenges

Stomach upset or diarrhoea:

  • Antibiotics for self-treatment of moderate to severe diarrhea, provided at pre-travel consult {include hyperlink to APPOINTMENTS page}
  • Over-the-counter antidiarrhoeal medication (such as bismuth subalicylate, sold under brand name Pepto-Bismol, or loperamide, sold under brand name Imodium)
  • Oral rehydration packets if travelling with children
  • Anti-motion sickness medication, if at risk {include hyperlink to Motion Sickness article}

Environmental protection

  • Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) {include hyperlink to Sun Exposure article}
  • Gels for sunburns
  • Insect repellent with DEET or picaridin (not available in Canada)
  • Anti-itch gel or cream for insect bites and stings
  • Antibacterial hand wipes or alcohol-based hand gel with at least 60% alcohol
  • Antifungal and antibacterial ointments or creams
  • Clinical thermometer

First Aid Kit

It is often easier to purchase a first aid kit than build your own. Many drugstores and grocery stores sell suitable ones. Try to find a first aid kit recommended by the Red Cross or Canadian Lifesaving Society. All kits should include

  • A first-aid quick reference guidebook
  • Disposable gloves (at least two pairs)
  • Adhesive bandages, multiple sizes
  • Gauze
  • Adhesive tape
  • Elastic bandage wrap for sprains and strains
  • Antiseptic
  • Antimicrobial swabs
  • Tweezers*
  • Scissors*
  • Moleskin or molefoam for blisters
  • Instant ice pack
  • Saline eye drops
  • Plastic re-sealable (Zip-Lock) bags

*Because of security restrictions, pack these items in checked baggage when flying.

Online Retailers

The following retailers sell premade medical kits:

Travel health kits

First aid kits

Emergency Contact Card

An emergency contact card should be kept in the medical kit. Include the phone number and address of the following contacts:

  • Relative or close friend still in Canada
  • Primary care provider from country of origin
  • Area hospitals and/or clinics
  • Canadian Embassy or Consulate in the destination country (or a British Embassy if there is no Canadian one in the destination country)

For more information:

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization (Page 5)

About Us

Since 1936, International Medical Services (IMS) has strategically promoted safety and travel illness prevention. We have extensive experience sending short and long term expatriates to every continent and major travel destination (including Antarctica).

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