I get it – summer vacations are a whirlwind of activity, planning, packing, unpacking, managing schedules, coordinating kiddos and then…a glass of wine before you pass out at the end of the day. The last thing on my mind when I was packing for a week long stay at a family resort in the Colorado Rockies was a first aid kit!
Inevitably – someone’s gonna get sick. New environs, new bugs, new schedules, new foods…just about anything can set off a rampant cold, a knock-out flu, or a nasty bump/scrape/bite! A well-considered first-aid kit can save the parents a lot of heartache (and money) and get the kiddos back in vacation-mode without skipping a beat.
The trick is: how to pack light AND be prepared for the most common vacation mishaps? Here are FOUR simple, homemade remedies that I always pack and use for myself and my whole family (and sometimes the family down the hall at the hotel…):
Arnica everything – salve, ointment, and homeopathic preparations are the number one bump, bruise, or just not feeling right, achy, tired, cranky remedy of choice. Arnica salve can be made by macerating freshly cut arnica flowers in olive oil for one month, strain and melt down with equal parts beeswax. A faster method would be to pour Safflower Oil over a jar filled with coarsely chopped arnica, turn the lid tightly and use as a poultice applying the oil soaked flowers directly on sore spots (but NOT broken skin!) with a cotton bandage.
*Never take Arnica internally unless in a homeopathic dose.*
Plantain (unlike arnica) grows just about anywhere, and once you’ve positively identified it, you’ll never go without this wonderful remedy. Plantain is mother nature’s band-aid (alongside comfrey, in my book…) for srapes and bites. A hard fall down a gravel-laden hiking trail can leave a swath of debris inside a bleeding knee. First, clean the wound thoroughly (using a syringe, also handy to pack in your kit!). Next, find some fresh plantain leaves or pull some whole leaves out of your kit. Chew up a leaf (don’t worry, plantain leaves are edible) and place the leaf directly on the wound. Plantain is great for healing cuts and scrapes, you can tape the leaf directly onto the wound for several hours and change as needed. As with all first-aid, it is most important to keep all wounds as clean as possible. Plantain leaves will also provide immediate relief from itching and burning insect stings and bites.
Peppermint tea is soothing to the stomach and can be prepared in a pinch when nausea, upset stomach or abdominal cramping arises on long car trips. I always start a trip with several water bottles of sweet, iced peppermint tea to sip throughout the trip. Peppermint will also soothe a sore throat and provide relief for tired, puffy eyes. (Soak a washcloth in a strong cup of cool peppermint tea and place directly on the eyes, or remove peppermint tea bags after brewing, allow to cool and place bags directly over the eyes.)
As an herbal tea as well as a homeopathic, Chamomile is an indispensable ally when travelling with small children. Give your kiddos some chamomile tea to sip before bed to help them ease into sleeping in a new location, to calm their nerves from travelling and give them some comfort when their routine is interrupted.
Homeopathic Chamomile is a godsend for the travel-weary parent with the extremely irritable child. The child may be teething, or have diarrhea, or just be extra fussy. One dose of Chamomilla 30c will put your child at ease (and most often put them to sleep) within minutes. I’ve seen it work again and again. One time in a hotel a child started crying around 2 am, and the crying just got louder and louder. I walked down the hall and knocked on the door to see if I could help. The mother looked so tired, the baby in her arms was wriggling and crying. I offered one small homeopathic pillule which the mother accepted gratefully and put straight into a bottle of milk. A few minutes later, the baby calmed down and the whole floor was able to get back to sleep. Of course, the next morning the mother knocked on my door asking for more of “those magic little pills!”
YOUR BARE NECESSITIES KIT:
- Arnica salve (homemade if you live in the mountains or purchased in 1 oz tins from your friendly neighborhood herbalist) AND homeopathic Arnica 200c
- Plantain leaves picked fresh and packed in a plastic sandwich baggie. Fold a paper towel around the leaves to decrease spoilage; or plantain oil prepared ahead of time or purchased.
- A few tea bags of Peppermint and Chamomile AND homeopathic Chamomilla.
- A plastic syringe for easy wound cleaning (also handy for cleaning peanut butter and jelly out from between sticky fingers)
- Gauze, cotton balls, q-tips, a few band-aids.
Pack your kit well ahead of time so you can just grab it and go! If you decide to travel with oils and salves, keep them in the cooler and in a separate plastic bag as they will most definitely, inevitably leak.
What else is in YOUR kit?