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Make Your Own Car First Aid Kit for Family Travel

Make Your Own Car First Aid Kit for Family Travel

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We don’t have any boy scouts in our family, but we try and travel with as much preparedness as we can stand.  This travel first aid kit was created on our very first cross-country trip, and now it lives in our car permanently. Of course, we don’t want to use at all, but I put a lot of thought into what we might need in the way of remedies and emergency care. While we never manage to think of everything, we have used our DIY car first aid kit on numerous occasions, and it’s been so helpful for those minor emergencies.

Creating a DIY travel first aid kit makes more sense than buying one for many reasons. Firstly, the kits sold on Amazon, often include the cheapest materials available, along with things you’ll never use. While, it’s initially more expensive to make your own, you can ensure that you’ve included essentials that your family is likely to use. Our DIY car first aid kit is heavy on moleskin, waterproof bandages, and herbal remedies. Yours may include many things I’ve never even thought of.

A drawing on a DIY first aid kit

Our DIY car first aid kit fits in a plastic container with a sturdy lid.

Your DIY Car First Aid Kit

When you buy a ready-to-go travel first aid kit from Amazon or another online retailer, you will quickly realize how small it is. Those 299 pieces that are advertised in the product description? They’re mostly plastic bandages. To create a decent DIY car first aid kit, you first need to find the right container.

Ours was secured at a local discount store for a few bucks, and at 14″x 8″x 6″, it is much bigger than a standard first aid kit. That’s because we keep all of our first aid stuff for traveling inside – not just emergency stuff, but also antacid tablets, vitamins, and bug spray. Everyone in the family knows where the first aid kit lives in the car, and it gets accessed almost every day. Here’s an overview of all of our DIY car first aid kit supplies, in case you’re interested in making your own.

Car First Aid Kit Essentials for Wound Care

Wounds are probably our most common injury while traveling, and for the most part, we’re dealing with cuts, scrapes, blisters, splinters, and bug bites. Here’s what we keep for wound care in our car first aid kit:

first aid kit essentials

  • Bandages of all shapes and sizes.  Our favorite brand is Nextcare waterproof bandages because they are super durable and don’t come off until you take them off.
  • Butterfly closures – waterproof. These are great for those times when you may need stitches, but you’re not quite sure.
  • Sterile gauze pads – different sizes
  • Alcohol wipes
  • First aid tape – waterproof.
  • Pure, carded wool – Wool is used to prevent blisters while hiking – just apply a generous amount around your heal or any areas that are prone to blisters. Hold in place, while you pull on your sock and you’re ready to go. Wūru Wool makes sells pure New Zealand wool exactly for this purpose.
  • 2nd Skin blister pads – If you already have a blister or hot spot, I recommend 2nd Skin to prevent added damage to the area.
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Tweezers, needles, and magnifying glass for splinters/tick removal.
  • Caladryl lotion for bug bites
  • Cortizone for bug bites and poison ivy, etc.
  • Skin Shield Liquid Bandage
  • Vaseline – I don’t know, but I’m sure it’s good for something.

 First Aid Kit Essentials for Sprains and Strains, Aches and Pains

We do a lot of hiking, and use the following items a lot. When heading out on hikes, we pack a ziplock baggie with essentials from our main car first aid kit.

  • Arnica cream – for bruises and muscle pain. Our new favorite is Joshua Tree After Sport Recovery Lotion, which we use after big hikes.
  • Well Patch pain relieving pads for aching muscles
  • Instant cold pack for sprains or inflammation
  • Ace bandages
  • Splinting material

Medications for Your Road Trip First Aid Kit

Colds, upset stomachs, allergies, and menstrual cramps all happen on the road. Here’s how we prepare:

medications for your DIY car first aid kit

  • Naproxen Sodium -Aleve or similar for headaches
  • Ibuprofen – for aches and pains
  • Pepto Bismal tablets – To counteract the effects of camp food
  • Antihistamine – for allergies
  • Prescription strength burn cream – sunburns or other burns
  • Tums
  • Cold and Flu medication (over the counter)
  • Cough Drops

Herbal Remedies for Your Car First Aid Kit

We use a few herbal remedies when traveling, mostly for minor ailments and general wellbeing.

Herbal remedies for your DIY car first aid kit

  • Garlic/mullein ear oil – one of us is prone to ear infections and this has been a lifesaver in the past.
  • Chaga tincture – homemade- I can’t say enough good things about Chaga.  It is a fungus that grows in the north woods on birch trees.  It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-hyperglycemic., and good for general health and vitality.  Read more about Chaga in this article from Mother Earth News.
  • Dandelion tincture -homemade- for indigestion.
  • Crystallized ginger – for motion sickness.
  • Aloe vera – for sunburn.
  • Lemon essential oil – for general mental fatigue.
  • Lavender essential oil – for insomnia and headaches.
  • Witch hazel – as an antiseptic.
  • Bach rescue remedy – anxiety, insomnia, and tension – for humans and dogs.
  • Multivitamins for everyone

DIY Car First Aid Kit Extras

Because you never know when this stuff will come in handy:

Extras to put in your DIY car first aid kit

  • Sawyer extraction kit – for bee stings and snake bites
  • small scissors
  • digital thermometer
  • lip balm with SPF
  • Emergency firestarter kit – because you never know when you might need it
  • cotton balls, cotton swabs, and cotton cloths
  • plastic sealable bags
  • sanitizing lotion
  • small first aid guide
  • needle/thread
  • emergency blanket

Our DIY road trip first aid kit gets replenished once a month or so, and stays in the car even when we aren’t traveling.  If you have any suggestions or additions for our road trip first aid kit, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.

And of course, we’d really appreciate it if you would share this post on Pinterest:

First aid kit for travelFirst aid kit for the car


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Wednesday 27th of May 2020

That's a very detailed list. Almost a mini hospital for an emergency. Inspired by your information I have compiled my own mini-list here which is India specific.

I also suggest you include suggestions for high altitude sickness medicines.


Tuesday 26th of July 2016

Hi Jessica. I love this kit! I am putting a kit together for my granddaughter's girl scout troop, and I would love to add moleskin to your list for blisters, as it is very inexpensive and you can cut the sizes you need. An arm sling/ large bandanas for the same use in a pinch, maybe. Alcohol inhalants/smelling salts, for those of us who pass out from heat exhaustion, while I will love having the knowledge on the tincture teas, motion sickness pills might be an easier alternative to administer on the road, as I have severe motion sickness in any mode of transportation, so I always have the pills in my vehicle. Allergy chewables for children, and non drowsy pills for older children/adults. Water filtration bottle as well, to filter stream or river water, 25' length of rope, hospital emergency contact numbers.


Tuesday 26th of July 2016

Hi Wendy, Thanks for taking the time to comment and adding to my list. I am traveling at the moment, but will add these to my first aid kit and to my post when I get home.


Tuesday 21st of June 2016

Super glue-if you get a larger cut that you'll need stitches for, a dab of super glue will hold skin in place until you can get to a hospital.

I have cut myself numerous times (once I took off the tip of my finger, through the nail with a manadolin slicer) I was able to super glue it back on and did not even need to go to the hospital for stitches.

(I do not advocate NOT going to the hospital, but I grew up in a household that never went to the doctor's unless it was a dire I'm 100% into doing my own medical procedures...)


Thursday 23rd of June 2016

Great tip, Jessica! We had great success with a similar product - like super glue, but meant for people.


Tuesday 26th of January 2016

Thank you for this post. My sons race BMX dirt bikes and I need to stock up on more of these first aid kit supplies. Some of the things you have here I never even thought to put in the kit. On my way to Dollar Tree now before their next race!


Tuesday 26th of January 2016

This is such an awesome post. One that I have been meaning to do for a while! Lots of people miss half of the things listed, but you never know when you'll need them most!