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I’ve been watching James Bond movies with my kids this summer, and my favorite part is always when he pulls out some sort of gadget that is perfectly suited to save the day. I’d like to think I’ve got a little bit of James Bond in me, even if I encounter few car chases or assassins. In my my line of work, I need to be prepared for almost anything.

I could start a blog simply recounting crazy problems, disasters and near-misses from these last 15 years and I’d never lack for material. As any travel professional can tell you, EVERYTHING happens on tour, and I mean everything. Don’t even get me started. So I’ve learned to be prepared for the issues that come up on the road.

I’m required to carry a first aid kit in my work, which is necessary and used steadily. Bumps, bruises and minor injuries are common and easily fixed. But there are often other little annoyances that can bog down travels, ones that can be pretty easily taken care of with a little thought ahead of time.

This is where my little box comes in. I like to call it the “Box of Awesome”, a name which should be heard in a voice like a wrestling announcer. My little first aid kit packs a good punch against travel inconvenience, and here’s the recipe to assembling your own. Start with a small, basic first aid kit with a hard case.

I have one from Johnson and Johnson, for sale at Target for about $.99. It has a variety of band-aids, ointment and sterile cleaning wipes. To that I have added a few extra first aid items, butterfly bandages, sting relief pads and a few more band-aids in unusual sizes. For foot ailments, I have a patch of moleskin and blister bandages.

I keep a tube of pills of commonly needed medications. Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Aleve, Tylenol PM, Migraine aspirin, and, most importantly, Benadryl. A miracle drug in my opinion, Benadryl works on allergic reactions, bug bites or stings, stuffy noses and sleeplessness. I also carry a liquid Benadryl pen in my bag for mosquito bites as I’m terribly allergic.

Dental woes are common with travelers, so I try and keep something in my bag for emergencies. An amount of floss or toothpicks for stuck food. For crowns or veneers that have fallen off, I asked my dentist for small packets of emergency adhesive. I’ve also carried tubes of Fixodent for this reason. Occasionally I have tour members with fillings that have fallen out, and for this reason I carry Temparin, a tooth filling material that can patch a tooth for a few days until a dentist can be found.

To this I add my fix-it supplies. I have tweezers, small nail files, a screwdriver for glasses with extra screws, sewing kit, buttons, safety pins, tiny super glue packs, small scissors, nail clippers, bobby pins, twist ties and glue dots. At the travel supply store I recently found bug repellent wipes that fit nicely in the kit, as well as a stain removing pen for messy travelers like myself.

If assembling a travel emergency box seems like a bit of a hassle to you, Rick Steves has one that’s already put together and comes in a nice little pouch. It’s got a sewing kit, moleskin, compass and a few other travel aids that can be handy. You can pick one up at, $20.

It may not be a pen that shoots tranquilizer darts or a Porsche with an ejector seat, but my little kit can often save the day, if maybe not save the world.

Here are a few other suggestions:

First Aid Kit 

Travel Emergency Kit

Have some ideas for adding to the Box of Awesome? This box has been a work in progress for some time with other travelers and I’d like to hear if there’s something I’m missing. Please leave comments and I’ll add ideas to the list.

AWS Staff

This post was published by the Adventures with Sarah team. Click here to find out more about the people that make everything at AWS happen.


  • Love the “Box of Awesome!” I also carry WetOnes in individual packets, a few each in purse, medical kit (an Eagle zip pouch with many of the items you describe — MY “box od awesome”), and stuffed in crevices here-and-there. WetOnes are a miracle treatment. You can use the to clean face and hands, tray tables and other unsightly public germ-carrying surfaces, for “hygienic purposes” as well as to remove stains from clothing. I have removed red wine and coffee from white shirts and saved a mom with a gelato-dripping child from certain hysteria.

  • […] minor travel emergencies, and a few major ones. I wrote about it a while ago, which you can read HERE, and I encourage you to steal this idea. The basic idea is to buy a simple first aid kit, I like […]

  • Pam says:

    Hi what do you use the glue dots for?I would add a length of string, small roll of duct tape, assorted zip ties, a W-D-40 mini stick, a couple binder clips, paper clips and a sharpie.

  • Joe Brotherton says:

    Love the idea for a ‘box of awesome!’ I didn’t see a freeze pack suggested. The instant freeze packs are pretty lightweight, not overly big and handy for a turned ankle, etc.

  • cristin says:

    I created a checklist for myself from the above info and thought I’d share it!
    Thanks for the great info!
    Box of Awesome
    small, basic first aid kit with a hard case:
    sterile cleaning wipes
    butterfly bandages
    sting relief pads
    band-aids in unusual sizes
    moleskin and blister bandages
    tube of pills of commonly needed medications:
    Tylenol PM
    Migrane aspirin
    liquid Benydryl pen
    floss or toothpicks for stuck food
    emergency dental adhesive or Fixodent
    Temparin, a tooth filling material
    fix-it supplies:
    small nail files
    screwdriver for glasses with extra screws
    sewing kit
    safety pins
    tiny super glue packs
    small scissors
    nail clippers
    bobby pins
    twist ties
    glue dots
    Bug repellent wipes
    stain removing pen

  • Andie says:

    Twist ties come in handy too. Can use to quickly ‘lock’ a day pack or carry one (just put through the zipper holes and twist – just makes it much harder to easily unzip it – paper clips can do this too.)If you buy snacks, you can use them to close-up opened bags to keep fresh and not spill. Can use to keep lightweight curtains closed in an emergency (make a small ‘handful bunch’ of the two sides and twist around it.The thin wire in the middle of a twist tie can even keep the arm on your glasses if you lose a screw.They are handy.

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