I was a few days into my journey through one of the world’s vastly unexplored regions, Peru’s Amazon River, where the surrounding rainforest jungle was entirely untamed. We spent afternoons paddleboarding with piranhas, swimming with pink dolphins, and trekking deep into the mysterious jungle. Our guide would remove enormous Anacondas blocking our path or swat away prehistoric-looking tarantulas.
There are deadly obstacles in this remote part of the world, and my greatest fear was soon realized when I faced death halfway through my trip. It wasn’t a Poison Dart Frog or a Black Caiman….it was a peanut.
Having a severe food allergy my entire life has been an enormous burden, but something I have been extremely diligent about, constantly annoying everyone who prepares my food. I had survived previous attacks and numerous emergency room visits, but I was not expecting this. The chef aboard our boat made the simple mistake of garnishing our meal with peanuts, and it almost proved to be deadly. I knew my body had possibly an hour before going into cardiac arrest; however, I was deep up the Amazon river and nowhere near an emergency room.
The crew made urgent calls to a nearby Indigenous tribal village, and I was taken there to meet with a Shaman who they said could help me. I was fortunate to have my EpiPen with me as that ended up saving my life after I rejected the witch doctors offer of ayahuasca and boa oil cures. The cruise company ultimately sent in a paramedic a few hours later to provide me with an IV which ended my episode. I was grateful he stayed by my side through the rest of my adventure.
Whenever I take remote adventure trips, I always pack emergency medications, and bring more than one epinephrine injector if I have a severe allergic reaction to a food. I also keep all medicines in a separate pouch for easy access and airport security, and never in checked baggage.
The most common injuries that are treatable on extreme adventures include sprains; minor wounds like cuts, scrapes, abrasions, or punctures; ailments such as headaches, allergies, muscle aches, and sore throats; and medical illnesses like diarrhea or dehydration.
Always make sure to buy Travel Insurance for your voyage. Several companies like Allianz now have added Epidemic Coverage Endorsement, which covers Emergency medical care for an insured who becomes ill with COVID-19 while on their trip, as well as Trip cancellation and trip interruption if an insured becomes sick with COVID-19 either before or during their trip. Benefits offer a five-day maximum limit for accommodation and transportation expenses.
I also buy insurance that includes medevac services, which are recommended when traveling to more rural destinations. I have used Trawick’s Safe Travels Voyager plan, which provides $250,000 of primary Medical Coverage, Trip Delay of $2,000 for accommodations/lodging expenses, $250,000 of primary Medical Coverage, and Covid-19 Trip Delay of $2,000 for accommodations/lodging expenses.
I have done extensive research and have personally tested many of the products listed below for the must-have emergency products to protect you at home and abroad.
Dr. Benjamin Jack created this off-grid Pro Med Kit through his Duration Health. He is an ER doctor who created the service as a telehealth for wilderness, travel and disaster preparedness, and is basically urgent care, anywhere. This is the ultimate medicine cabinet for most emergencies, and is one of my favorite essential items that I always pack in my carry on.
I spoke with Dr. Jack and he said, “We prescribe and ship emergency Med Kits, with medications like antibiotics and EpiPen that doctors like me carry for personal emergencies. Our doctors meet with you online before your trip, and prescribe the meds you’re most likely to need if you get sick during your adventure. We dispense your medications in a custom Med Kit, and ship it to your door before you leave.”
Because of my severe food allergies, my personalized kit includes prednisone, Benadryl, and Pepcid to treat an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. And of course the essential EpiPen and a super informative field guide to explain every type of injury and treatment. They also add fully customizable medications for off-grid environments and the price of the kit includes an online doctor visit for prescriptions and advice.
You are well covered for any number of problems you might encounter while traveling, from vomiting and diarrhea, eye and ear infections, allergic reactions, wound infections, motion sickness, altitude illness, and malaria.
THE MOVER MAX ($195)
The extremely portable backpack-style Mover Max is equipped with over 53+ life-saving survival essentials, designed to sustain a family of four for up to 72 hours. It is all contained in a rip and puncture-proof waterproof bag and equipped with reinforced padded support and cushioned adjustable straps. The Mover Max is perfect for taking on road trips and adventures and is also the ultimate prep kit to keep at home for emergency evacuations, including wildfires and hurricanes.
The pack includes a Hand Crank Radio, First Aid Kit (101 Piece), Multi-Tool, Water (5-year shelf life), KN95 Masks, Glow Sticks, Meal Replacement Bars (5-year shelf life), Ponchos, Hand Warmers, Triple reinforced Emergency Gloves, Biohazard Bags, Hand Sanitizer, Wet Wipes, Pocket Tissues, and more.
I spoke with Simon Huck, CEO & Co-Founder of JUDY, and he says, “We learned that 60% of American families have no emergency plan in place – and that alarming statistic inspired us to create a safety brand that would help households prepare for the unexpected. By equipping people with the tools and knowledge to handle emergencies, JUDY strives to make households across the country feel safer.”
MOUNTAIN EXPLORER MEDICAL KIT ($62.00)
The Mountain Explorer is the ideal backpacking first aid kit for families or small groups headed out on a week-long adventure. This medical kit contains a selection of first aid supplies to treat injuries and illnesses on extended camping or hiking trips. Hospital-quality supplies like wound closure strips and a CPR face shield let you treat blisters, close wounds, and administer CPR.
A variety of medications lets you manage everything from pain to allergies, while the single-use thermometer monitors fevers. First aid hiking essentials are organized by injury into clearly-labeled pockets to provide fast and effective first aid. The water-resistant medical bag features semi-transparent pockets to keep the contents safe and easy to access for your whole trip. They also offer a cool Me and My Dog Medical Kit for your canine hiking companion ($52.99).
I spoke with the CEO of Adventure Ready Brands, Chris Heye, and he tells me, “It is important to be prepared with the proper equipment to handle surprises and to ensure your adventure goes off without a hitch. It all starts with researching your destination and educating yourself on what you might experience or encounter along the way. Curating your gear list suited to the group size and the weather you will experience is a crucial component. If you are in a colder and wetter environment it is important to have an emergency shelter, bivvy, and fire starter. Conversely, a hotter and sunnier environment will dictate other critical items, like water purification and insect repellent. It is always a good idea to have a first aid kit with enough supplies to handle injuries sustained by a few people in your group.”
He adds, “Finding a brand you trust to take you through the wringer is one way to prepare for different situations. For our Adventure Medical Kits brand we design kits with specific types of adventures in mind. For example, hikers are highly prone to blisters and strains, so a good hiking kit will have supplies to treat those types of injuries. We put a large emphasis on trauma dressings in our Sportsman Series kits as hunters need to be prepared for more serious injuries. We also have a marine series of kits that are approved by the US Coast Guard and include supplies designed to provide emergency care while on trips 24 hours away from professional care.”
This cool design is a First Aid VSSL canister equipped with an LED flashlight capable of signaling SOS for up to 40 hours, a highly accurate compass, and a beadless whistle. First aid essentials are packed into the pockets of a reusable fabric roll; take it out of the canister, unroll it, and take what you need.
The 60 First Aid essentials include; 4 large bandages, 4 knuckle bandages, 2 packs of 3-M Steri Strips, 2 disposable thermometers, 4 antiseptic towelettes, 10 butterfly bandages, 2 antibiotic cream packs, 2 burn cream packs, 1 non medical mask, 1 gauze pad, 1 pair medical gloves, and 4 blister pads
Equal Eats Food Allergy Cards ($28.00)
Entrepreneur amd health advocate Kyle Dine launched the company Equal Eats in 2006 with a desire to create a solution that would help others travel safer and with more confidence. An Equal Eats 7-card credit card size travel pack helps ensure your allergies are taken seriously and understood when dining out around the world, and is available in 50 Languages. I also have the free iPhone app which is a lifesaver and offers easy translations to show waiters at restaurants.
I spoke with Kyle and he said, “I created Equal Eats after experiencing an anaphylactic reaction while traveling overseas. It happened at a restaurant where my peanut and tree nut allergies were not fully understood due to a significant language barrier. It was a scary ordeal that made me hesitant of future travels. I wanted to create a solution that could help people with allergies gain confidence knowing that their message is truly understood. We created tactile high-quality cards containing professional translations to influence others to take our dietary requests seriously.
He adds, “Beyond carrying epinephrine with you at all times and having medical insurance, you really need to do your research and pack smart. Search and save information on national emergency numbers, potentially safe and unsafe local cuisine, as well as typical food allergen labelling requirements. Having a peanut allergy translation card can go a long way in terms of communicating your restrictions at supermarkets and restaurants in a way that is noted and understood by locals.”