Herbal Travel First Aid Kit

This spring I had the pleasure of spending six weeks in France and Iceland. It was an amazing trip! I wish I could sit you all down and show you hours worth of photos I took along the way… but I have a feeling that could put many of you to sleep.

So instead I thought I would be more practical and share my herbal first aid kit with you all. I bring my herbal first aid kit with me whenever I take a trip. I have my basic kit ready to go at all times but I do like to customize it depending on the location and duration of the trip. I am always grateful to have my own trusted herbs along for the trip so I don’t have to suffer through minor complaints or rely on over-the-counter medicines from the pharmacy.

What goes in your travel first aid kit?

What goes in your own herbal first aid kit is really dependent on what you specifically need. Do you get digestive problems when you travel? Have problems with sleep? Have pain? Get anxious? Have cold sores? Are you headed to a sunny location and want to bring along sunburn relief? Or will there be lots of stinging insects? It’s a good idea to think of what you most commonly reach for and then fill your kit with those solutions.

Another consideration is weight and space. If you are traveling by car then you may be able to bring along more herbs as opposed to traveling by plane or traveling light with a small backpack. It’s also fun to explore what other places have as herbal remedies. You may find interesting herbs and herbal blends along the way. However, if you have an acute problem like insomnia or digestive upset you don’t really want to be searching for remedies at that moment.

A peek inside my herbal first aid kit

The following are the things you’ll find in my own travel first aid kit. I hope this gives you ideas for creating your own.

Salves for boo boos.

I typically carry two different salves for minor scrapes and bruises.

This salve is great for those minor scrapes. It helps to heal the skin right up.

Comfrey/St. John's Wort Compound

This salve is better suited for bruises and sprains. Arnica opens up the capillaries, which helps to promote circulation, one of the most important steps in healing a bruise or minor sprains.

TravelFirstAidKit2

ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz

Having trouble sleeping is a common problem when traveling. If you travel long distances (to France for example) then jet lag can be a concern. But even if you aren’t too far from home the excitement of the journey or even just sleeping in a strange place can prevent sleep.

Sleep Care

This is a great formula for promoting sleep. All of these herbs are relaxing nervines with potential sedative qualities. A couple squirts of this and I am out for the night. I should note that valerian can actually cause the opposite effect in some people and make them feel more wired, thus preventing sleep. So, it’s a good idea to know whether or not you are a “valerian person” before relying on it in your herbal first aid kit.

This blend could also be helpful for relieving stress and anxiety. It can cause a lot of drowsiness so use caution when using it during the day, especially if you are driving or operating machinery and need to be alert.

Tummy troubles

Digestive problems are also a very common problem when traveling. The stress of travel, eating strange food or simply eating contaminated foods can create all levels of digestive upset. Using a bitters formula like this one from Urban Moonshine before meals can help you avoid a stomach upset. It can be taken in larger doses as needed to address tummy upsets. It works great against general nausea, indigestion, bloating, gas and mild constipation.

Bitters

When I go to Mexico where parasites are more of a concern I also bring along activated charcoal capsules.

Immune Support

Traveling can be stressful to the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to upper respiratory infections like the common cold. Also, being in crowded airports or train stations can bring you in contact with these common viruses. When I travel I like to take something to support my immune system in the hopes of avoiding catching anything.

Elderberry Extract

Elderberry extract is wonderful at preventing an upper respiratory infection and at shortening the duration of a cold.

Pain

One of my own weak links is musculoskeletal pain. I have an old injury from my teenage years that can flare up from time to time so I always bring along my favorite pain remedies.

This “Pain in the…” tincture formula from Five Flavor Herbs is an amazing blend of herbs that works for all types of pain. Headaches, menstrual cramps, back pain, etc. I don’t travel far from home without it.

Pain in the...

Another pain remedy that I am fond of is these Chinese patent medicated patches called Wu Yang patches. These have a blend of herbs, including wintergreen, that helps to decrease musculoskeletal pain.

Plaster for Bruise

You simply cut off a portion of the patch, remove the backing and then stick it to the area that hurts. On my trip to France I gave out these patches like crazy to folks who had different types of pain and all were quite pleased with how much their pain was reduced.

Ginger drops

Candied ginger is a great addition to your travel first aid kit because it can help with so many different issues. It helps with general nausea, which can be helpful to those who get car sick. It can soothe a sore throat or even help with general digestive upsets. They also taste great.

Ginger Drops

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil can be used topically for bug bites, headaches, cold sores and minor burns. Breathing in the scent of lavender can also promote relaxation (something that’s quite handy when the stress of travels are getting to you.)

Lavender Essential Oil

Chamomile Tea

I like to keep a couple bags of chamomile and peppermint tea in my herbal first aid kit. Both are great for calming an upset tummy. Chamomile can be helpful for soothing the nerves. One time I was traveling to an herb conference and I woke up with one eye super red and filled with gunk. I think it was pink eye. I made a little poultice out of my chamomile tea bag and it cleared it up quickly.

Chamomile Tea

Peppermint tea is another nice tea to have in your herbal first aid kit. It tastes great and helps with stomach upset and nausea.

Staying hydrated

I also like to keep several packets of Emergen-C in my first aid kit as well. These are mixed in water and can help rehydrate you in times of minor dehydration.

Emergen-C

Other ideas…

I hope the items I’ve mentioned so far have given you ideas on what you may want in your own herbal first aid kit. I do change what’s in mine depending on where I am traveling and how I am traveling (weight/space considerations). If you don’t travel very much (or if you don’t use the items in your herbal first aid kit very often) you may want to freshen up your kit once a year to make sure your salves and teas are still fresh and potent.

Other things you may consider adding to your first aid kit include…

yunan baiyao powder: Somewhat hard to find these days but this is a famous herbal powder for stopping bleeding.

An antimicrobial tincture blend: This could be used diluted to clean out wounds or for urinary tract infections. Echinacea and yarrow are good choices.

No Jet-Lag Homeopathics: I used these on our way to France and our way home. I had very minimal jet lag when arriving in France and zero perceived symptoms of jet lag when I got home. I’m a believer!

Travel First Aid Kit

Putting it all together

Here’s a tip I learned years ago from herbalist Natalie Vickery. Fish tackle boxes, readily found at hardware stores or sporting goods stores, are great containers for your herbal first aid kit. They can safely hold tincture bottles in individual compartments so they are well protected. I’ve used a fishing tackle box as my herb first aid kit for years and they work great.

Travel First Aid Kit

Many times our remedies and recipes are things you can make yourself. This is a bit different in that I am showing you the contents of my first aid kit and giving you tips on how to create your own.

We’ve linked to Mountain Rose Herbs and other sites so that you can find these things readily. If you really want to create your own herbal first aid kit from scratch then I highly recommend the Herbal Basics course on HerbMentor.com, which shows you how to create salves, tinctures liniments, etc that end up being your own herbal first aid kit.

I should also mention that this article is specifically about an herbal first aid kit and so I didn’t cover items normally found in a standard first aid kit. It’s also a good idea to have a standard first aid kit with you that includes bandages, gauze, iodine, etc. These can be easily bought as a kit at sporting good stores, hardware stores, etc.

So now that you’ve seen what my herbal first aid kit looks like, I’d like to hear what you have in yours or what you are planning to include.

Visit Mountain Rose Herbs for many of the supplies above.


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75 comments
  1. babybago says:

    Love it John!!! Question? Has anyone had any problems with a kit like this in a carry on? Or should it be considered a checked bag type of item. I’m going on a trip to Scottsdale next weekend (see you there!!!!) and won’t be having checked bags. Wondered about a travel kit with the tinctures in it.

    • April says:

      Need Yarrow too! Also smooth move tea.
      I also really like all of these ideas, but what about telling people how to do most of those remedies themselves?

      • Rosalee de la Forêt says:

        This is the first (out of a hundred) articles where we haven’t given instructions on how to make something. I admit it felt strange to not do so! The only reason for that is because it wouldn’t have made sense for length purposes. Can you imagine how long this article would have been if I had done that for each item? It would be a book!

        Because we’ve been at this for ten years we already have TONS of step by step tutorials on HerbMentor.com and YouTube on how to make salves and tinctures. This is our first article on making an entire kit though.

  2. Zamira Moraga says:

    Love it! Great job, feel blessed to be part of this learning herbs community. Thank you for all you do.

  3. S says:

    Thanks for sharing all of this helpful information! The tackle box suggestion is smart. I would add Electromix packets to my kit. It contains electrolyte powder that you just add to your water. Works very well. It is made by the same company as EmergenC. Also, I thought that cayenne pepper was good for stopping bleeding. That would be easier to find than the thyunan baiyao powder. Rue fennel drops are great for pink eye/eye problems too. I’ve never had to use antibiotic drops when my kids have pink eye. It clears it up in 2 days or less. One might want to add something for relieving allergy flare ups. Is there an herb for that?

    • Jill says:

      I agree about the rue fennel for eye problems! It’s a miracle and wish everyone knew about it! I really liked this blog post and that fact that if I’m lazy I can find everything I need easily.
      Thank you!

    • Dr. Zenia Richler says:

      You don’t want any product from Emergence C all vitamin C being sold in the US is now made in China and with GMO corn which is very damaging. I only recommend my patients get there Vitamin C from food products which have Camu Camu, Amla Berry etc. I recommend they use Pure Radiance C from a company called Pure Synergy. Small owned company superior products and no I don’t work for them. Please be careful of all Vitamin C out there.
      The site is great, article good, Congratulations. I enjoyed the pictures and recommendations.

      • S says:

        Thanks for that info about Vitamin C. I try not to use anything from China! How do you find out the source of ingredients in products?

  4. KimMarie says:

    Loved the information. Had the same question as babybago about traveling with liquids in carry on luggage. Did you just empty out the items into the required plastic bag and then repackage after?

  5. stasha2 says:

    I love the new site. Have to say though, that in this post, I’m disappointed that you’re focusing on “brand” products here. I love Mountain Rose Herbs but this post felt very superficial to me with a lot of product placement. It’s hard to be critical because I love your site but I was sorely disappointed with the post.

    • John Gallagher
      John Gallagher says:

      You can use any tinctures, etc in the place of them. Even your own. We do have to take a photo of something, and as you know, we are never shy about how much we love our good friends over at MRH. If you look back at our previous 300 or so newsletters, you’ll notice that 95% of them have links over to MRH. I think helping people assemble their own first aid kit with excellent information is not all that superficial. That was the point here, a way for folks to make something quick. You can substitute any remedies you want with others. Please join us on the webinar for more info if you want to go a little deeper. That is free as well.

      • Monica says:

        I am thankful for the “brand” products. I think there are a lot of people who cannot make their own products and are grateful for a more natural choice. Thank you!

      • Rosemary says:

        Monica, you took the words right out of my mouth! John, if you hadn’t placed “ads” you would have had a bunch of questions on “where do you find this stuff?” I know, because I would have been one of them. Haha! I’m so glad to have found you guys. I hadn’t heard of you before the webinar.

  6. Karin says:

    I like your travel kit . Just to let you know that Emergen – C contains GMO derived citric acid which destroys your gut flora

    • John Gallagher
      John Gallagher says:

      I think Rosalee was listing it here as something that’s easy to carry that is effective in an emergency. I am sure she would agree not to use it on a regular basis.

  7. Iridacea says:

    What a wonderful post- thank you!
    Our family spent days getting together our herbal first aid kit for a camping journey to the redwoods last year. (Putting it together was a fun home school project!) . Conviently we had several minor wounds and ailments that required using the kit nearly every day. Our kit has many of the items listed in the article. What We used: lavender essential oil, wound salve, peppermint tea(also wonderful to smell dry tea bag for headaches…), digestive bitters, ginger, a combo drawing-anti microbial salve.

    Two other things which we were glad we had, and you didn’t mention;
    *A version of rescue remedy and
    * Stuff for poison oak/ivy which could be useful to others too.

    Thank you for all the work you do to empower home herbalism!

  8. stacey says:

    Helpful information. Thank you. I also found as another person commented that the product placement got in the way of it be presented as something being authentically shared. Giving the herbs for the tinctures and the other remedies and then links to previous tutorials on how to make at home would have been nice.

    • John Gallagher
      John Gallagher says:

      You can replace any of these remedies with your own, or other brands. We always include nice photos in all our newsletters, as we have for 10 years, and we had to take a photo of something. :) That said, we do love our friends over at MRH. We take the same stance as they do. That is, always support your local herbalist, herbal company or herb shop first. If you have questions, please join our webinar on Thursday.

  9. annaleah says:

    I love the new site! Great article too. I also thought of cayenne for bleeding and rescue remedy. We also travel with melatonin for jet lag and sleep. Epsom salt is great for laxative effect, just get the kind that sais you can take internally.

  10. Annie says:

    I wish I’d had this list last week! I’m on vacation now… I’d add something for allergic reactions. I normally have homeopathic histaminium 30x in my purse; also Apis mel and ledum pal for bug bites and stings. I love the idea of a tackle box. My current pursepothecary is pretty unwieldy.

  11. M. says:

    WOW! This is wonderful. The new site looks great and the information is most welcome. I am happy to see what the “products” look like so that I can more readily identify them for my first aid kit. Thank you, John, Rosalee, and all the Good Folks at Learning Herbs. Your knowledge, enthusiasm, and the generosity with you share greatly enrich my life and help keep my family healthy!

  12. heidihuebner says:

    Wow! This is so great! I’ve often wondered about how to choose the essentials to have with me when we travel. Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. Helen Segura says:

    You are doing a great job making herbal lore more well known. I have personally been encouraged to try some salves and different things. What I missed in your post was a mention of Tea Tree Oil that I have found very useful as a substitute for iodine – on mosquito bites and for treating moles on the skin. I would say it is essential for a first aid kit!

    • John Gallagher
      John Gallagher says:

      I agree! I love tea tree. Rosalee was just trying to keep it super simple and versatile. However, add what you love for sure!

  14. searlait2013 says:

    Quick question for everyone (or maybe a few). Are there any herbal remedies or specific herbs you WOULD NOT want to bring with you and why? Concerns about spoilage etc? Just wondering if there is a definite line that you would not want to cross when it comes to herbs and travel? Is there trouble traveling with certain containers as well? (glass tincture bottles, etc.?)

      • searlait2013 says:

        No, not specifically. Just wondering if there was anything we should really know about that probably should not be done for one reason or another! :) Also when looking through the handout and reading the article, I noticed you did not mention willow for pain relief. Is this a plant you don’t use for pain, or do you just like the products mentioned better?

  15. Erin says:

    So thankful for this site and for your generosity in sharing your years of knowledge. We sure do appreciate you. Congratulations on the new site, it is wonderful.

    • John Gallagher
      John Gallagher says:

      YOU ARE WELCOME! It’s so nice to hear appreciation. I so love it. You put your heart and soul out there and so often you just get back “what is not here” in the comments. It was quite a lot of effort for Rosalee to put this article together, and I certainly appreciate the kind words. :)

  16. Lori B. says:

    I have found the most popular thing I use in my herbal first aid kit is the top part of a sock (foot part cut off). My kids always have gouged knees, elbows, shins, etc.. Slather leg with healing salve then slip the clean tube sock over their injury. It is soft, stays put and is much bigger than any band-aid sold, so it covers the whole wound without sticking to the skin. I keep at least 2 with me. I also cut a little slit near the end so you can slip your thumb through if you are using it on a wrist. My youngest will run while we are hiking, catch a root with his foot, fall and rip open both his hands. These socks will cover the scrapes so we can continue on our hike. :)

  17. E.H. says:

    thanks for the herbal first aid kit. Very helpful. What would you recommend to put in the kit for young children for pain relief instead of using children’s Tylenol syrup.

    • Rosalee de la Forêt says:

      There isn’t a quick easy herbal substitute for Tylenol. Instead we want to know what is causing the pain exactly then address that. If the pain is caused by tension we can relieve tension with relaxing nervines or antispasmodic herbs. If the pain is caused by an injury we can use blood moving herbs (like arnica for bruises). Sorry to not have an easy answer, it really depends on the situation.

  18. Janine says:

    Great article. I’d love it if there was a print version available. Also if you have MH products why not have a list of herbs so you can make the tincture yourself? Such as a sleep formula consisting of… Without going into the how to detail would be nice

    • John Gallagher
      John Gallagher says:

      Hey! So, with our new format, you just have to hit PRINT on your computer and it will print. Easy as that. If you see above, we have a checklist you can download. I think Rosalee has explained the idea here was a quick way for folks to put a kit together. We thought it would be clear that you could replace anything with any remedy you want. For example, the salve above is one you can certainly buy, but it’s also more or less the same thing you make in the Herbal Remedy Kit. There are also recipes, etc on HerbMentor.com. In addition, feel free to make any further explorations a new topic in the HerbMentor forums. Also, we can only list so much in a web article before it would seem to big. If you noticed, we’re doing a live webinar, where you can ask questions.

  19. Naabi says:

    Great post, thanks for all the useful info Rosalee. I never leave home without clove oil. You can purchase it in indian grocery stores or some health food shops in Australia – not sure about the US. It acts as a topical anaesthetic so great for kids when you need to dig out splinters or for hikes when you just have to keep going. I also would not be without water miscible lavender oil for sunburn, stalks of aloe vera for cuts and scrapes and tea tree oil for antimicobial washes.

    • Rosalee de la Forêt says:

      The tinctures should last several years. The salves could go rancid after a year or two. Probably a good idea to freshen up your kit every year to make sure everything is fresh and vibrant.

  20. M. Hayat says:

    It really fantastic, but will be very difficult to manage it in our country, i.e. Pakistan how I could benefit with this?

    • John Gallagher
      John Gallagher says:

      Well, you could learn about local herbs you can get that have similar uses, and create a kit. There is enough here that you can get the gist of it.

  21. Maria Foti says:

    Rosalee beautiful job! I purchased a kit from you and made the salve, tincture Elderberry cough syrup. It was so much fun I felt like a kid on Christmas! I am a Advocate for Extremely Effective Alternative Edible Medicinal Mushrooms that come in tea and coffee both instant and great for travel. I would love some feedback, since this is new to the USA, if you accept samples, I would gladly send you some, thanks and good luck with this new venture!

  22. Laura says:

    This is such a wonderful idea! Thank you for all the time and effort to put it together and for offering a download. I will have to make the best use of what you have printed, because I will not be available for the webinar. So I really appreciate that I will not miss everything, though I know it would be best to attend the webinar.

  23. Linda Mattei says:

    I am signed up for your webinar but won’t know If I can stay awake past 10pm. I’m on the east coast. Can I get a transcript or video of the webinar?

  24. Francisca says:

    This is awsome, I realy hope you can record it, because I’ll have to get up at 4 in the morning ( guess it is a.m) because i live in Holland

  25. Sarah says:

    What a good idea:) I also carry oil of cloves as that’s good for toothache and I have had some bad problems with my wisdom teeth. I didn’t know about the Chinese Healing Patch, I like that this website is so helpful.

  26. kimberlylambdin says:

    This is great and all but I want to make my own. It kinda defeats the purpose of being self-sufficient if you have to rely on a store to buy the product just to concoct it yourself. Do you use nature at all? Plantain leaf- which grows almost everywhere…. great for stings, cuts, minor injuries. Go pick that out of your yard and use it! Some great ideas but now I will be looking for printed instructions to make comparable products to put in my first aid kit for travel. Thanks for the ideas!

  27. Nancy says:

    This first aid kit looks really great! Only one thing that concern me is the emergen-C, I used to take it and realized there was aspartame in it… Perhaps they change their formula? Please let me know if I’m wrong!

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