There are instructables for all manner of survival kits to keep you alive if you get caught in the wilds. But, given that 5 days a week I spend working in a business setting, I need a survival kit of a different sort to keep me alive and rolling when catastrophe strikes. Lately, my job has included a lot of travel, customer visits, conferences and days in the office. So, with that in mind, I set out to build a survival kit with a few goals.
- Has to cover issues that might afflict me at home or on the road
- Only needs to get me home, to the hotel or somewhere I can buy what I need
- First aid doesn't need to be covered *
- Has to fit into a mint tin
Sounds like a fun weekend project. Shall we build one?
* I carry an augmented mini first aid kit already
Step 1: What You'll Need
Here is a list of what you'll need to build a kit exactly like mine. I've included links in places but most things are available from a variety of stores and websites. Check out the end for ideas on how to expand and customize your kit.
- Mint Tin - Specialty Bottle
- Assorted Medicine
- Small Plastic Container (Lacons® 150750) - Lacons *
- Small 7 Day Pill Box - Container Store
- Handful of Ibuprofen (or your preferred pain medicine)
- Flossers or a Small Spool of Dental Floss
- Foam Ear Plugs
- Collar Stays
- Cardboard Emery Board Nail Files
- Sewing Needles
- Safety Pins
- Buttons - Both Shirt and Pant
- Micro Flash Light
* I got mine at a local hardware store. Container store has similar but they're slightly different size.
- If you take your shirts and/or pants to a dry cleaner to be pressed, you WILL have a button get crushed at some point.
- I like metal collar stays. They let you bend them slightly and give your shirt a bit more character.
- Safety pins are like duct tape for clothing. You don't know exactly why you need to have them until the moment you need to have them.
- Shirt buttons - Don't forget to check cuff, collar and placket (center) buttons, they're often different sizes. Every shirt should have spares sewn to one of the tails.
- Pant buttons - Brown and black should solve most problems. Plus, if you're wearing a belt, the button is hidden anyway. A spare pant button comes with most pairs of dress pants (and sometimes both pocket and fly if required).
Step 2: Cut Down the Pill Container
The pill container is a bit large for this build so you'll need to cut it down to make two small containers with three "days" each. Sorry, Wednesday, we don't need you for this one.
- Using a utility knife or x-acto, cut off the lid from the Wednesday pod.
- Trim out the Wednesday pod.
- Trim up the edges of your newly created smaller pill boxes.
- Using the x-acto carefully shave off the day and braille markings.
- Label properly and fill appropriately.
Step 3: Trim the Emery Board and Make the Sewing Kit
The emery boards I found were a couple inches too long, so they need to be shortened. Be sure to use your least favorite scissors. Cutting sand paper can be brutal on nice scissors.
For the sewing kit, you'll need a spare business card, two needles and about 8 feet of thread in the colors you need. I went with black, white and tan. Sorry, no detail picture but the final picture includes a good view.
- Cut the business card into a piece about 1" x 2" (about a third of the business card's width)
- Cut out 3 small notches on the long sides (or however many colors of thread you have)
- Pierce the needles through the card to keep them in place
- Wrap each color of thread around the card and slip the loose end into a small cut at one end
- I chose two styles of needles. A narrow gauge shorter needle for shirts and a heftier needle should I need to repair pants.
- Thread color, like buttons, is pretty flexible. You just need to make it through the day/trip so you can get things repaired properly.
Step 4: Pill Box and Trimmed Down Medicine
I like to carry medicine to get me through the day/trip. As with everything, I'd rather be safe than sorry so this list includes a broad range:
- Pseudoephedrine - 12 hour
- Motion Sickness
Trim down each pill's blister pack until only the smallest amount is left. For pills that aren't easily identified by their package, use a sharpie to label them. Toss them all in the plastic container and you're all set.
- I don't include cough drops on this list, but they're great if you're talking a lot, either public speaking or working a conference booth. I keep a small supply in my first aid kit and bring more when I know I'll be speaking.
- I also don't include standard cold medicine. The pseudoephedrine will get me through pretty much anything I need on the road or will, at least, get me to a pharmacy.
Step 5: Put It All Together
You're done with the hard work, so now put it all in the tin and you're ready to roll. Mine has a bit of free space where I could possibly add a couple extra things but they'd have to be small.
Notes on Items Not Detailed
- I wrapped the collar stays to keep them from getting shaved down by the emery board.
- I folded a $20 bill this way to include. Cash is essential to keep on hand. It never gets stolen online, it's always accepted and, never forget, cash is king.
- Ear plugs are great for those thankfully few times when my hotel walls are much thinner than I'd like or I want some quick sleep on an airplane.
- A small flash light is probably optional given that most of us have a smart phone, but I had a few on hand and figured I'd toss one in.
Step 6: Things to Add
The sky is the limit on things you could add to this kit. You really need to tailor it to fit the sort of issues you might run into. Here are some thoughts that have popped into my head through the day:
- Subway/Metro Card with Some Credit
- Emergency Contacts
- Spare Contact Lenses and/or Case
- Eye Drops in Single Use Dropper
- USB Drive
- Shorty Phone Charging Cable
- House Key
- Car Key
- Micro Pen
- Business Cards
- Prescription Medications
- Allergy Medications
- Alcohol Wipes
- Eyeglass Cloth
- Nail Clipper
- Watch/Hearing Aid Batteries
- Small Knife
- Blank Check (unsigned please ;)
- Hair Tie
- Bobby Pin
What else will you put in? I'm always interested in expanding my kit!
Runner Up in the
Travel Contest 2017