First Aid – Tips when traveling, on holiday & at home – What to do when..?

First Aid Tips. What should you do in case of blisters, burns, bites from a cat or dog, a bloody nose, diarrhea, insects, motion sickness, a shock, cuts, abrasions, splinters, dehydration, constipation, sunburn or heatstroke? How do you deal with accidents and problems? Where should you go for vaccination (malaria), what is the ANWB emergency number or Medicine Users Travel Document? First Aid Tips alphabetically; also about problems during a trip or holiday and helpful (medicine) remedies.

First aid tips alphabetically – How to act..?

  • Pharmacy – Travel pharmacy and medicine cabinet
  • Blisters – Foot blisters and Burn blisters
  • Bite from Cat or Dog
  • Nosebleed – Bleeding Stabilizes
  • Burns – First degree, second degree and third degree
  • Contact with Home Front
  • Diarrhea – Diarrhea
  • Electricity accident – Electric shock
  • Food and Drink – Appetite Heat
  • Finances – Health Costs Medical Costs – Travel Holiday Abroad
  • Medicines – Medicines
  • Hygiene – Infections
  • Injections – Vaccinations
  • Itching and Insect Bite
  • Fever – Body temperature
  • Laxative – Bowel movements Constipation
  • Stomach complaints – Heartburn
  • Malaria – Malaria mosquito
  • Emergency – ANWB emergency number
  • Pests – Insects
  • Disinfecting – Abrasions
  • Pain – Painkiller
  • Travel Document for Medicines
  • Motion sickness – Nausea
  • Splinters – Tweezers
  • Language – Medical words
  • Dehydration – Temperature
  • Contraceptives Sex STD
  • Wounds – Cuts
  • Sunburn and Sunstroke


Pharmacy – Travel pharmacy and medicine cabinet

Both at home in your medicine cabinet and when traveling and on holiday, it is useful to have a number of remedies and medicines at hand. An overview of the first and often used first aid supplies can be found in Travel Pharmacy on Holiday Tips.

Blisters – Foot blisters and Burn blisters

Bleeding occurs very often during the holidays, because we often wear different footwear, go on more and longer walks or go to a disco more often and the like. In principle, it is better not to pop blisters! It is better to cover them with a pad and gauze bandage or with special plasters for foot blisters (available at pharmacies and drugstores). Only in those cases where you really suffer/like blisters is it wise to puncture a blister. Do this with a special, sterile blister puncture stick or the tip of a needle, which you first sterilize in a flame (e.g. a lighter). Then you carefully squeeze the fluid out of the blister, but before you do this you must disinfect the blister. This certainly applies to the treatment of open blisters, which should always be disinfected before being bandaged.
You should never puncture
burn blisters , as this can lead to infections!

Bite from Cat or Dog

If you have been bitten by a cat or dog, you should always first rinse the wound with gently running, lukewarm water. Then disinfect the wound with a disinfectant and cover it with a sterile gauze bandage. Then, to be on the safe side, go to a doctor or a hospital first aid department as soon as possible, because there is often a risk of infection. Especially with biting/deep bites (often from cats) where there is no bleeding wound, there may be dirt or bacteria deep in your skin that do not bleed out. Although the view and policy of treatment may differ, a tetanus injection is often given for animal bites as a precaution. Some claim that the disease tetanus is extinct; others give a shot against tetanus just to be sure. In some hospitals, the wounds are excised (under anesthesia with a small surgeon’s knife in the emergency room) to prevent the risk of infection.

Nosebleed – Bleeding Stabilizes

If you have a nosebleed, sit in a writing position and then blow your nose once. Then pinch your nose closed under the nasal bone with your thumb and index finger for 10 minutes. And in the meantime, keep breathing through your nose. If bleeding persists for a long time or returns, seek medical attention.

Burns – First degree, second degree and third degree

Burns can be divided into three categories:

  • First degree – the skin is red, warm and swollen
  • Second degree – the skin is red, warm, swollen, painful and blistering
  • Third degree – the house is colored white-yellow to black; there is often no pain, but this actually makes the situation more alarming


1st degree burns

You can generally treat first-degree burns that are no larger than the circumference of a 10 euro cent coin and are caused by heat yourself. Cool a burn for at least 10 minutes with gentle running water. lukewarm water (hold under the tap). Allow the water to run over the wound without aiming the jet directly at the affected area. (If there is no tap water or other water at hand, even ditch water can be used for this purpose.) Then cover the wound with an impregnated ointment gauze. If you have larger burns and especially open burns, go to a doctor or first aid post immediately!

Contact with Home Front

Mobile Email Dualband Wereldomroep

With every holiday or trip, whether short or long, it is important to let those at home know where you are going. Especially during hikes and tours, it is important to regularly let people know where you are. Check in advance whether your mobile phone can also be used abroad, check the quality of your mobile phone, your subscription and your SIM card. With a so-called dual-band device you can be reached and receive calls throughout Europe and Asia. Certain holiday countries have the option to call with a local provider (SIM card) or a calling card that allows you to call in telephone booths. In some cases it may be cheaper to use the telephone booth instead of calling with your own telephone.

Radio Wereldomroep

If you want to stay informed of news and developments in the Netherlands, a portable radio with shortwave reception is recommended. In emergencies you can also use contact or a call via the Netherlands Worldwide (see also under emergencies).

Diarrhea – Diarrhea

Diarrhea during travel and vacation is very common and is sometimes called the number 1 holiday ailment. In many cases, diarrhea is due to a different climate or weather conditions, a different diet or eating method (e.g. suddenly a lot of olive oil), but also due to water or food that is contaminated with bacteria (minor food poisoning). In general, this will go away on its own and the complaints will disappear within about three days. In case of diarrhea it is also better to just watch it instead of immediately using all kinds of stopping drugs (such as loperamide, which is not suitable for children under the age of 8 at all!). Diarrhea is in principle a natural physical (defense) reaction to remove bacteria. If you use remedies too quickly to stop diarrhea, the body cannot remove the germs properly and therefore any problems will not be solved.


It is very important to drink enough/a lot with diarrhea, because your body loses a lot of fluid. Children and the elderly are particularly at risk of dehydration. Administration of ORS, or oral rehydration fluid, can provide a helping hand. If there is blood or mucus in the stool or there is fever or vomiting in combination with diarrhea, always go immediately to a doctor or hospital first aid post.

Electricity accident – Electric shock

During the holidays it often happens that children, but also adults, have an electrical accident, for example by inserting a plug incorrectly into the socket. Important: Immediately disconnect the power source from the victim. Immediately remove the plug from the socket or switch off the main switch. Any burns caused by the electric shock should be addressed (see Burns above). For extensive and detailed first aid and steps to take in the event of a shock, see Electricity & Shock.

Food and Drink – Appetite Heat

The appetite often decreases during the holidays, especially in warm countries and sweltering temperatures in, for example, southern European countries. Realize that it is very important to continue to eat well and get enough energy. For example, in countries such as Spain and France it is common to eat hot meals twice a day. These meals often contain more salt than we are used to. The reason for this is that the body loses more moisture through perspiration when it is warm. If you use more salt, your body retains moisture better, which makes it easier to prevent dehydration.

Drink a lot

It is very important to drink a lot. To keep your body in shape, drink more water and juices than you are normally used to at home.

Finances – Health Costs Medical Costs – Travel Holiday Abroad

You can find extensive and specific information about medical expenses while on holiday, how you are insured, how to act abroad in case of medical problems, illness, hospitalization and the like in Medical Expenses Abroad – EHIC Healthcare Card and 111 Form.

Medicines – Medicines

Those who use medication on a daily basis or frequently are advised to contact their pharmacy in good time before traveling abroad. You can discuss with the pharmacist which/how medicines should be taken en route. Also order the required medicines well in advance and receive them on time. If you travel by plane, it is advisable to keep your daily medications in your hand luggage so that you always have them at hand; also in case your suitcase gets lost or there is a delay in baggage handling.

Hygiene – Infections

Not every (often subtropical) country takes hygiene seriously, which means there may be a greater risk of contracting an infection through contaminated water or food. When in doubt, it is advisable to drink bottled water (from a trusted brand). Do not eat unpeeled fruit or fresh ice cream from an ice cream cart or ice cream stall along the road and, strange as it may sound, also be careful with ice cubes! When cooking yourself, heat all your food thoroughly so that any pathogens present are killed. Wash the dishes in hot, soapy water and use clean tea towels. It is also important to wash your hands with soap before cooking and/or eating and – of course – also after using the toilet.

Injections – Vaccinations

Particularly when traveling to distant countries, you should be well informed about the risks of infectious diseases or conditions spread by insects in certain countries or areas. Information about this is also available from the pharmacy. Vaccinations are generally not necessary for a holiday or trip within Europe. However, this may be the case for Turkey. For a holiday or a trip to countries in the Far East or Asia, you can report to the GGD for injections/vaccinations. In principle, it is a routine treatment, but it is important to contact your doctor or the GGD at least six weeks before your departure for a suitable vaccination program. But even then you have to remain careful, as vaccination cannot provide complete protection against everything. For general information regarding health, vaccination and malaria, you can also contact the National Coordination Center for Travel Advice, website: or by telephone: 0900 9584 (0.45 p/m).

Itching and Insect Bite

If your itching occurs as a result of an insect bite (see further under pests), jellyfish bites or, for example, nettles, anti-itch remedies are available from a pharmacy or drugstore. Some people buy this medicine in advance and have it in their travel pharmacy as standard when they go on holiday. If you have several small (severely) itchy bumps on your skin, this may also be the result of a sun allergy. Special ointments and remedies are also available in pharmacies for this.

Fever – Body temperature

Sometimes your body temperature can rise unexpectedly while on holiday, which often indicates an infection. It is important to check your temperature regularly. In case of a high fever – above 39 degrees Celsius – for degrees in Fahrenheit, click here – it is advisable to use an antipyretic. If the fever lasts longer, always consult a doctor! In tropical areas, fever can also indicate malaria, for example (see Malaria).

Laxative – Bowel movements Constipation

A longer journey or a long seat in the car can have a significant effect on your bowel movements. Constipation caused by this can be (partially) prevented by exercising as much as possible during the trip. Furthermore, make sure you eat as many fiber-rich products as possible, such as whole wheat bread, vegetables or fruit. Mineral water, herbal tea or orange juice can also have a good effect on the intestines. In any case, be careful with laxatives, especially with children! If constipation persists for a longer period of time, it is wise to consult a doctor.

Stomach complaints – Heartburn

Stomach pain, bloating or heartburn are often a result of different eating habits and different food in the holiday country in question. For example, your stomach can react strongly to certain spices or, for example, olive oil in Mediterranean food. In general, it takes about three days for the body to adapt. In the meantime, if you want, you can use special stomach remedies such as Rennie.

Malaria – Malaria mosquito

In almost all countries around the equator you may be at increased risk of contracting malaria. A bite from an infected mosquito – the malaria mosquito – is the culprit of this serious infectious disease. In part, special medications prescribed by a doctor provide protection against malaria, the so-called malaria prophylaxis. It is important to follow the instructions carefully, as malaria is a serious disease that must be treated properly.

Emergency – ANWB emergency number

It is advisable to write down all important telephone numbers before departure, so that they are available in case of emergency. Such as numbers of close relatives, the general practitioner (and/or specialist). Important numbers to have at hand during your trip or holiday are the number of your own insurance company/health insurer and the:

  • ANWB emergency number: 0031 – 70 314 14 14 . Most emergency centers are available 24 hours a day


Pests – Insects

Insects are active both during the day and at night. Besides insect repellents, which are available at drugstores and pharmacies, it is good to pay attention to a number of things. Especially when you camp or spend the night in the wild.

  • Wear light-colored clothing after sunset
  • Preferably sleep under a mosquito net or mosquito net
  • Use as little deodorant, perfume or aftershave as possible during the day; Insects love nice smells


Disinfecting – Abrasions

Wounds, especially abrasions, can become infected in hot countries and especially in poor hygienic conditions. It is important to thoroughly disinfect the injury – no matter how small your wound is. You can get various remedies for this at the drugstore and pharmacy (such as iodine, Betadine). It is most convenient if you have this as standard in your basic travel pharmacy. A homeopathic remedy that is good for disinfecting is Echina force (Echinacea), for example from Bloem or A. Vogel. Place a few drops on the wound. Don’t have all of this at hand, but do have alcohol? Then put some alcohol on it. It does sting for a while, but this is always better than a nasty infection or inflammation.

Pain – Painkiller

Headaches, stomachaches, sore throats, etc. can of course also occur while traveling and on holiday and seriously disrupt your sense of relaxation. If you are in a permanent place of residence, you can easily obtain painkillers in the local shops. This will not be possible while traveling. So just to be on the safe side (travel pharmacy), take some painkillers with you, such as paracetamol, aspirin or sinaspril (for children).

Travel Document for Medicines

It may happen that during a border control, customs finds certain medicines that you have to use/have with you or in your travel pharmacy suspicious. This can have very unpleasant consequences. You can prevent this problem by obtaining the free Travel Document for Medicines Use from the pharmacy before your departure . This document contains the name of the medicine in question, the substance name, the composition and dosage in Dutch, English and French. This document can also be useful in the event of loss or theft of medicines, if you have to go to a local foreign doctor to replace the medicines. The chance of receiving the wrong medication and incorrect dosage is then small.

Motion sickness – Nausea

Some people are more sensitive to it than others, but a continuous rocking movement of a car, train, plane or boat can seriously upset your balance organ, causing severe nausea and a dizzy feeling. There are special travel sickness tablets available to prevent this. However, these substances are not recommended for the driver of a car, as they can impair the ability to concentrate and cause drowsiness, with all the consequences that entails. Sucking on acid, a lemon or fresh air can also help with motion sickness.

Splinters – Tweezers

It is important to immediately remove splinters under the skin before they encapsulate. You can remove a splinter with tweezers or a needle, which you must first sterilize by, for example, holding them in a flame from your lighter, etc. Always carefully pull splinters out of the wound lengthwise and then use a disinfectant (see disinfection).

Language – Medical words

When you think about holidays, you prefer not to think about illness and accidents. Yet it happens to countless holidaymakers every year. It is difficult to need help in an emergency and not be able to make yourself understood in terms of language. Hands and feet has its limitations and you cannot go to all countries that speak English. It is useful to purchase a dictionary with the most commonly used terms before departure. A few terms from such a book can make a big difference, especially in emergencies. The translation of doctor, dentist, pharmacy and hospital in 5 different languages can be found in Travel Pharmacy on Holiday Tips

Dehydration – Temperature

Most Dutch people are not used to or adjusted to high temperatures. In (sub)tropical areas, warm countries and also on the beach you perspire a lot and lose a lot of moisture in this way, without really noticing this. It is very important to drink enough/a lot. Please note, especially in children, that they are more likely to dehydrate, as they are often extra active and mobile.

Contraceptives Sex STD

Approximately five percent of holidaymakers have sexual contact with people in the holiday country in question (boys/men more often than girls/women). Some women only think about not becoming pregnant and feel that they are well protected with an IUD, the pill and other contraception. To avoid the risk of infection with hepatitis B, AIDS and other venereal diseases (STDs), condoms are an absolute must. This normally applies at home, of course, but especially during the holidays, as you tend to be more light-hearted, easier and sloppier with sex (sexual intercourse) and are more likely to show off with a complete stranger. Always take condoms with you! Girls/women are also wise to always have condoms with them, just to be safe. Don’t assume this is a guy thing!

Wounds – Cuts

With (smaller) cuts it is good to just let the wound bleed for a while, as the bleeding ensures that dirt comes out naturally and the wound actually rinses itself clean. After some time, clean the wound with sterile gauze around the wound (for abrasions, see Disinfecting and animal bites under Cat/dog bites). If you have large wounds, always go to a doctor or first aid post to be on the safe side; For example, sometimes a wound needs to be stitched in order to heal properly.

Sunburn and Sunstroke

People often warn against too much and unprotected sunbathing; it can also be really dangerous. You run unnecessary risks, especially on holiday in warm countries. Prevention is better than cure! Don’t sit in the sun for too long, resist the temptation to bake for hours to get as tan as possible and avoid the sun between noon and 3 p.m. Always use a sunscreen with a high protection factor when sunbathing! You can adjust the factor to your skin type and skin sensitivity; You can get good information and information about this in every drugstore and pharmacy.
If, despite proper preparation, things go wrong, wet compresses, yogurt and cucumber slices can provide some relief. There are all kinds of after-sun products available to soothe burned skin. There are also special sunblocks – specific sun products – available for people with a sensitivity to the sun and who use certain medications.

Heat Stroke Symptoms – First Aid

Heatstroke is very dangerous, is often the result of too much heat and radiation from the sun on your head and neck and can even be fatal! Your body temperature can become severely disrupted and rise to 40 degrees and sometimes even to 42 degrees, which can lead to death. Symptoms that may indicate heatstroke are high fever, often a rapid heartbeat, agitated breathing, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and often headache, in severe cases there may be loss of consciousness and even coma!
Older people and people who are overweight are particularly at risk of heat stroke. Also pay close attention to babies and small children and the sun on their heads (bald heads).

Prevent Heat Stroke

It is very important to prevent heat stroke by not sitting in the sun too quickly, too often and for too long in a row. Build up the time you spend in the sun slowly. Sunscreen – even with a high protection factor – also does not provide protection against sunstroke!
It is very important to drink a lot . Cool off regularly and sit in the shade. Make sure that small children do not play in the sun for too long; create a play area in the shade. Also make sure that small children wear a cap or sun hat and are not dressed too warmly. And what is often forgotten: also make sure that if you take pets with you on a trip, that they are not exposed to the sun too much and for too long and that they get enough to drink. Heatstroke can also lead to very serious situations in animals!
Always seek medical help in case of fever and shortness of breath and, before professional help can be given, try to keep the body as cool as possible, in a cool place and, for example, by using a strong fan or wrapping the body in wet sheets and keeping it wet with water and drink a lot . Pay attention to breathing and heart rate (also apply mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if necessary).

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