Packing a Portable Vacation First-Aid Kit

Charles Dickson tells readers how to create a vacation first-aid kit to protect against simple stings, scrapes and sprains.


| June/July 2000



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Vacation first-aid kit.


ILLUSTRATION: FARIDA ZAMAN

Learn how to put together a vacation first-aid kit. 

Simple cures for the stings, scrapes and sprains of summer.

You've planned this vacation for what seems an eternity, scrimping and saving over the long, cold winter so that you might spend your hard-earned two weeks lounging on the beach or canoeing your favorite rivers or discovering new byways or backcountry trails. As you drive down the road you know with each passing mile that you've put more distance between yourself and that windowless office, that glaring computer screen or that grouchy boss who's always breathing down your neck.

You arrive at your destination to find the perfect mix of sun and scenery. Life is good, you think, until . . . you step barefoot on broken glass or sprain an ankle or a bee plants its stinger in your behind. While no doubt nuisances, these common vacation woes don't have to mean the end of your good time, particularly with some advance preparation. What follows are simple suggestions for putting together a vacation first-aid kit. You can store the items in a lunchbox and take them with you wherever and whenever you travel.

Stings From Bees and Other Bugs

Let's start with the bee or wasp sting you didn't count on but now have. Two simple remedies are effective, depending on the type of sting. If it's a bee sting, prepare a paste of baking soda and water and apply to the area. Bee stings contain formic acid, so an alkaline baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) helps to neutralize them. If on the other hand you've been stung by a wasp, reach for some vinegar. Vinegar contains acetic acid and will help to neutralize the wasp's more alkaline sting. No vacationer's first-aid kit should be without baking soda and vinegar.

While less hazardous than bees and wasps, mosquitoes and other bugs can leave you itchy and annoyed. To ward them off, add a bottle of citronella oil to your first-aid kit. The oil comes from citronella grass, which grows in Java, Ceylon, Central America and parts of Florida. It's used in many commercial cosmetic and spray products. Dab a little on your face and neck, plus exposed areas of arms and legs. The lemon-like aroma has the ability to repel many would-be assailants from your skin.





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