Mostly Minimalist Travel · Practical Travel Tips

Mostly Minimalist: How to Pack a Tiny First Aid Kit for Family Travel

What’s in your first aid kit? Once upon a time, mine was something like this:

  • Add a tube of this and another tube of that.
  • Throw in a box of these and a box of those.
  • Don’t forget a bottle of X and one of Y.
  • And be sure to pack an ACE Bandage! (When I was younger, I tended to sprain one or both ankles annually. That’s not a tradition I recommend.)

What do you get when you put all these together? It’s not a travel first aid kit.

It’s a pharmacy. 

In my quest to travel as lightly as possible and stifle my intense need to “just in case” pack, I’ve streamlined my family’s first aid kit.

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In the past, I’d travel with a largish make-up bag stuffed with pills, potions, bandages, and other first aid gear that I’m probably not competent to use.

But I’ve ditched that bag for something much smaller. In fact, it’s so small that I carry it in my everyday life purse.

My supplies all fit in here, a 5.25″x4″x.5 (13cmx10cmx2cm) pouch!


Unless you’re traveling way, way, way off the beaten path, you don’t need a full tube of antibiotic ointment or a week’s supply of band-aids.

You need enough to deal immediately with a situation–such as cleaning and bandaging a scraped knee—and to tide you over until you can get to a shop or even a pharmacy.

My first aid kit includes antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, burn salve, and bandages as well as something for pain and fever for Little A.

And it hardly takes up any room in my carry-on.

Are you wondering how I do it?

Single-use packets!

Instead of carrying a full tube of antibiotic ointment, I drop one or two small packets of it into the first aid kit. The same goes for hydrocortisone cream and other supplies.

Where do I get this stuff? No, I don’t raid the supply closet when I take Little A to the pediatrician. 

I order it from Amazon. For a few dollars, you can get a small box of single-use packets of common first aid remedies. I keep a supply in my tiny first aid kit and stash the rest in the bathroom closet, refilling my first aid kit as necessary.

And here’s what fits in that little pouch!

Here’s what I carry:

This is enough to deal with minor injuries and insect bites and to get me to a pharmacy or shop to pick up further supplies. Am I tempted to pack more stuff? Yes, of course I am! The Husband and I travel with preschooler. (Yikes! Is she already a preschooler? How did that happen?) Little A is pretty athletic and seems to have good balance. But she still falls, bonks her noggin, and generally runs headlong into danger.  With my minimalist first-aid kit, though, I’m confident that we have the supplies to take care of the most common accidents.

What about you? Do you pack a first-aid kit? What’s in it? Is there anything you regret not packing?

Check out these related posts in the Mostly Minimalist series:
Mostly Minimalist: What’s in Your Travel Make-up Kit?
Mostly Minimalist: Essential Gear for Traveling with a Toddler



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