DIY Medical Kit for Traveling with Littles: Doctor-Approved!

We had literally just stepped foot in the door of our Airbnb in Scotland, after more than ten hours of travel, when our then 15-month-old son started to run a fever. Not long after, my husband felt a severe earache and headache coming on.

I was exhausted, desperately needed to sleep (as did we all), in a foreign city I’d never been to and didn’t know anyone in, and suddenly found myself needing to be the one to help my husband and my son.

So what happened? And what can you learn from our major travel mistakes on your next trip?

Me packing the most epic of medical kits for our next family trip, with the advice of my sister, who is a doctor.

How to Make Your Own DIY Medical Kit for Babies, Toddlers, and Small Children

I’m going to share what you need to pack in your very own DIY travel first aid/medical kit. This is what we took with us on our current trip to Indonesia and it JUST came in handy last week as we navigated a family bout of gastroenteritis.

The kit list I’m sharing today is 100% doctor-approved. As in, my sister is a doctor and she signed off on this list.

In addition to the information and lists below, you can also follow along with this video I made and make your own DIY first aid/medical kit for your baby or toddler and share it with any parents you know who are traveling soon. 

I’ll also quickly share with you what you should pack for YOU the ADULTS in your travel medical kit, because it’s important that you be healthy to be able to take care of your baby as well!

How to Organize Your DIY Medical Kit for Littles

This is going to sound a little strange but I use a toiletries bag for our first aid kit, because it’s huge and it has a lot of compartments so I can organize things nicely. It folds out so I can see everything I have easily, and it has a hook so I can hang it up if I need to.

This is what my toiletries bag AKA medical kit bag looks like.

If possible, I like to pack typical first aid items together in the same compartment (such as band-aids and antiseptic cream) and then keep the rest of my child’s medicine in a separate compartment.

This is what it looks like all unfolded. So many compartments (and the middle two are deep) which I love.

Finally, if we’re bringing our own adult medication and putting it into the same toiletries bag (sometimes we need to do this to save space), it’s best that it remain in a separate compartment from the children’s medicine so that there is NO confusion.

What to Pack in Your Child’s Travel Medical Kit: List of Essentials

Some items listed here will be age-specific, especially for babies under 2 years old. Before my son turned 2, there were some items on this list that weren’t yet appropriate for him. So always check the information listed on the medicine you give your child and always check with your doctor if you are unsure.

Please read ALL DOSAGE information, ingredients, and warning labels extremely carefully. Take the age and weight of your child into consideration and consult with your family doctor.

Typical first aid items to pack:

  1. Hand sanitizer
  2. Tweezers
  3. Band-aids
  4. bandages  
  5. Kids antiseptic cream
  6. Antibiotic ointment 
  7. Thermometer 
  8. Instant ice packs
  9. Lollipops 
  10. Nasal aspirator 
  11. Scissors 

What to pack for the sun and bug bites:

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Kids aloe vera gel
  3. Kids insect repellent 
  4. Calamine lotion

What to pack for pain/fever relief: 

  1. Kids Tylenol/Paracetamol
  2. Kids ibuprofen 
  3. Kids vapor rub

What to pack for upset stomach/motion sickness/allergies:

  1. Kid friendly antihistamine – Benadryl 
  2. Pedialyte 
  3. liquid imodium (loperamide)
  4. zofran (odansetron) 

What to pack for the adults:

  1. Gravol
  2. Ibprofen
  3. Tylenol
  4. Tums
  5. Peptobismol 
  6. Afterbite 
  7. Insect repellent
  8. Sunscreen
  9. Aloe vera gel
  10. Dramamine non-drowsy
  11. Cough drops
  12. Cold meds
  13. Bandaids
  14. Antiseptic cream
  15. Antibiotic cream
  16. Oral rehydration salts
  17. Hand sanitizer
  18. Antifungal

5 Medical Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling with Littles

Packing the perfect travel medical kit is definitely at least 50 percent of your medical trip preparation.

But additionally, in our experience, there are a few more steps you’re going to want to take in order to avoid major medical mistakes that WE have made ourselves and regret. Learn from our mistakes!

Not Memorizing the Emergency Phone Number of the Country You’re Traveling in (it’s not 9-1-1 everywhere!)

The first travel medical mistake to avoid: Not knowing the emergency phone number for the country you’re traveling to. Don’t be like us and make this rookie mistake.

In the US, it’s 911 but hadn’t even bothered to learn the emergency number in the UK. In an emergency, every second is crucial – and you should know the emergency number of where you are traveling!

We didn’t need to call the emergency line, thank god, but we realized that if we had needed to, if things had escalated, we might have been in trouble simply because of our ignorance.

Our nightmare scenario: visiting the ER in a foreign country with our son.

Not Getting an eSIM or Data Plan for Your Phone in Advance

This is related to the first mistake. That is: Assuming that your phone data will work wherever it is you’re traveling or not getting an eSIM.

If you don’t have data on your phone, your phones are basically paperweights until you can connect to WIFI at your hotel or Airbnb. And that doesn’t happen immediately.

If you have an emergency before you can connect to WIFI, you might be in trouble. In our case, Phil ran out and got us SIM cards as soon as we arrived but it was already too late – he did it in pain, with his ears throbbing.

Not Booking Your Accommodation Near a Hospital

Not booking an Airbnb or hotel near a hospital can cost you precious time in an emergency in a foreign country. Or not checking beforehand and mapping a route to get to the hospital if you need to.

It’s also important to have a taxi number handy or check to see if there is Uber (or some other ride share service) where you’re traveling. 

With a baby or toddler, you should always know how far the nearest hospital is and how you’re going to get there. We had no clue. We had already traveled with our son so much and didn’t think anything bad would happen to us. We’d been so lucky so far. 

So when my husband and son started to fall really ill really suddenly, I had to scramble to research google maps while panicking a little bit inside. Panic mode is not your best mode for dealing with crisis situations.

I wish I’d had a printed plan in a folder, or a note on my phone with the hospital and transport information that I could have just referred to.

Luckily we figured it out. We wrapped my basically lethargic son (I was terrified) up in a bunch of blankets because it was cold outside, got on a city bus that took us directly to the hospital.

My poor husband and son in the ER in Scotland.

Not Having Your Child’s (Back Home) Doctor’s Office on Call

Have your child’s back home doctor’s office number handy (and let them know you’ll be away and may need a virtual appointment at some point) — just in case.

Sometimes it’s nice to get an opinion via Zoom or phone from someone who already knows your child.

I’m sure you’ve heard this one a million times but it’s essential when traveling with a child especially: have travel insurance.

I have a basic travel insurance eguide as part of my newletter sign up if you’re interested. I’ll put a link here.

Not Having a Robust Medical Kit with You

Follow the kit list at the top of this article and always carry a robust medical first aid kit with you.

You never know what you’ll be able to get (or not get) at your destination. Labels might not be written in a language you understand or you might misinterpret the dosages.

You might be far from a pharmacy when you need something important or maybe something happens in the middle of the night and all the pharmacies are closed.

Or you’re on a plane and you need something urgently but… you’re on a plane. We take this kit in our carry-on bag and try to make sure the liquid bottles are under 100 ml just in case anyone gives us any issues.

Be Prepared and Travel Safely with Your Babies, Toddlers, and Small Children

Now you have a perfect medical kit for your baby or toddler for all of your adventures that’ll give you peace of mind.

PLUS you know what major mistakes to avoid getting yourself in a major pickle — unlike us!

In the end, our son and my husband ended up recovered after about 5 or 6 days. And even more fortunately, we were planning on staying in Scotland for three months total so even though our arrival sucked, we went on to have a great time.

I can’t imagine how crappy it would have been if we’d only had a week vacation there and the only time we saw any of the city was to get on a bus go to the hospital! We had another HORRIBLE travel sickness scare happen to us just last week here on a remote island in Indonesia — But thankfully we had a great DIY medical kit with us:

Safe travels everyone! 🙂


Brittany is a Wayfaring Human who loves to adventure with her husband and son. When she's not having adventures, she's taking pictures of them and writing about them.

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