Traveling with your family in tow comes with a whole load of problems, from tantrums to funny bellies, jetlag, and sunburn. But, from a long time of traveling with a brood, we have realized that it all comes down to preparation.
A lot of travel nasties can be avoided on the road with a little research and prep before leaving home, as well as knowing how to deal with any problems you may encounter.
Read on for tips on keeping yourself, and your family, healthy wherever you may go.
First comes first, common health problems and how to deal with them
Diarrhea – It is estimated that 50% of travelers who venture abroad will experience traveler’s diarrhea at one point or other. Symptoms include stomach cramps, feeling nauseous, vomiting and of course, multiple trips to the bathroom and bouts of sweat. If your family eats a dodgy samosa or accidentally gnaws on a raw bit of meat (we’ve all been there) then be sure to keep them hydrated with water and rehydration salts and, if they are okay to eat, pasta, potatoes, and bread are recommended. If you spot any signs of serious dehydration such as no tears when crying, sunken eyes and a dry mouth, seek medical attention asap.
Ear infection – Germs from swimming pools, the sea and lakes can lead to ear infections. Go prepared with ear infection home remedies from homeremedyshop.com, but also be aware that an ear infection may stop you and your family from flying. Seek professional medical help if necessary.
Jetlag – Not only will jetlag cause miserable and cranky kids, but it can play havoc with their bowels too. Keep them hydrated throughout the journey, and try to reset them to normal times as soon as you land. If possible, overnight flights are the best way to avoid jetlag in the first place.
Sunburn – Of course, you’ll be doing your best to keep little people out of the sun between midday and 2pm, but sometimes, no matter how much sunscreen you lather them with, they still burn. Keep a bottle of aloe vera with you and in the fridge, if you have one, for quick relief. Again, make sure they are hydrated when in hot countries.
Insect bites – As a general rule insect bites are usually harmless, if incredibly annoying and itchy. If anyone is stung by a bee, be sure to scrape out the sting and give it a good old wash, and cover mosquito bites with calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream. If there are signs of infection, such as a fever or pus, call the doctor.
Travel sickness – Antihistamines are an excellent way of keeping travel sickness at bay. If you have a child that suffers, give them one just an hour before travel and every six hours into it, and they will feel much better, if a little drowsy.
What to do before you go
There’s enough to be thinking about before you go, including how to keep in touch while you’re away, what to pack and who’s going to look after the cat, but being prepared for sickness should be your top priority.
Research your destination – A lot of destinations require vaccinations to be had before entering. Double check that everybody is up to date and book in for any boosters or new jabs which are required. You can find a comprehensive list of what vaccinations are needed and where at cdc.gov. Remember that if you are traveling off the beaten path, it may be worth booking in with a health specialist – but don’t leave this until the last minute, some vaccines and drugs require a period of incubation time prior to landing.
Check your insurance – You may have health insurance, but it may not cover you when traveling overseas. Be sure to do your research and get some good quality travel insurance which will cover health costs as nobody wants to cover an expensive hospital bill! Have a read of Lonely Planet’s guide to buying travel insurance for more information.
Make a note of important information – And make sure it is accessible. A file with all of your family’s medical information, from blood type to allergies and any medications which are used regularly, will be super helpful if you find yourself in a doctor’s office or a hospital. If anybody wears glasses or contacts, ask your optician to write down your prescription.
Pack a medi kit – Think about this ahead of time and try not to throw a load of things in a bag last minute full of out of date medicines or things which are totally useless. You will need spare meds for anything that is regularly taken, as well as more rehydration salts than you think you can ever get through, spare antibiotics, bug cream, and antihistamines. If you have fussy children who will only swallow a certain flavor of medicine, make sure you have enough of it to save trawling through foreign stores trying to find it. Also plenty of regular first aid necessities such as band aids, alcohol wipes, scissors, and tweezers.
A quick survival guide
Remember that, no matter where you go or how you are traveling, there are loads of germs everywhere and therefore your children are at risk of catching something or other. You may feel a bit neurotic, but wiping down surfaces with antibacterial wipes will decrease this risk a little, as will being sure that your bag is filled with healthy snacks to keep their vitamins up and clean bottled water. Before eating, religiously lather everybody’s hands with hand sanitizer.
If traveling by public transport, try to stay away from the food offered by vendors who get on and off at every stop. Of course, it smells good, but indulging in these treats are one of the easiest ways to find yourself with food poisoning or a funny belly. As a general rule, if you haven’t seen where your food is being prepared, don’t eat it. The World Health Organization’s motto on food when traveling is; “boil it, peel it, cook it or forget it!” so try to keep that in the back of your mind, no matter how tempting.