Article at a Glance
• Make sure your immunizations are up to date if traveling abroad.
• Avoid jet lag by slowly adjusting to the new time zone a few days before you depart.
• Learn how to avoid ear discomfort, motion sickness, and diarrhea.
Traveling with children can be stressful; traveling with sick children can be almost unbearable. Unfortunately, changes in routines, environment, food, water, and air can trigger a variety of traveled-related illnesses like diarrhea, infections, and motion sickness.
So before you head out on vacation with your family, here’s some helpful tips on keeping everybody happy and healthy.
If you are traveling abroad, you will want to make sure your family has received any necessary immunizations. Immunizations generally have to be given well in advance, so make an appointment four to six weeks before your trip or as soon as you can. Talk to your doctor about which vaccines you will need and any other potential health risks like malaria. Don’t forget to take a copy of your immunization records with you.
It isn’t a bad idea to take along a copy of your children’s medical histories. In case of a medical emergency, it will give medical personnel the information they need. The history should include things like your child’s name, blood type, immunization records, medications, allergies, and chronic health problems. It should also include your and your doctor’s contact information.
Items to Pack
Don’t forget to pack any medications or medical supplies your family uses regularly. You should also include a first-aid kit, an over-the-counter pain reliever, sunscreen, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and the address and phone number of the closest medical facility to your destination.
When traveling across time zones, jet lag can be a common problem. Jet lag occurs when your body’s clock is out of synchronization with the destination time. Slowly adjusting your sleep schedule a few days beforehand can help. Try to stay well-hydrated, avoid caffeine, and get plenty of time outside during daylight hours. Even if you are tired, try to follow your destination’s local time and stay up until your usual bedtime.
When changing altitude on a plane or in the mountains, it is not uncommon to experience ear pain. You can help equalize the pressure in your middle ear by swallowing, yawning, or chewing gum. Babies can nurse or suck on a pacifier.
Motion sickness occurs when your brain gets confused about whether you are moving or not. Your brain uses your eyes, inner ears, muscles, and joints to tell if your body is moving. They system works great unless your brain receives mixed signals. For example, when you are in the car your eyes may think you are not moving, but your inner ears sense motion.
Here are some tricks that can help take the queasiness out of your next car trip.
1. Watch what you eat. Foods like grains and fruits can help settle stomachs, but rich or spicy foods can make things worse. Ginger root can also help calm your stomach. Try eating a light meal before you leave; motion sickness can feel worse when you have an empty stomach.
2. A cold compress on the back of your neck can do wonders. Many people also find opening a window helps.
3. Try to focus on objects out in the distance. Avoid reading, watching DVDs, or playing video games in the car
4. Take frequent breaks out in the fresh air and avoid making any sudden stops or starts. Take corners gently.
5. If all else fails, try medication. Talk with your doctor for recommendations and dosage.
Diarrhea can be a particular problem when traveling in developing countries where the water can sometimes contain bacteria, viruses, and parasites. But you can also get it anytime you are exposed to contaminated water or food. You can help prevent diarrhea by washing your hands often, keeping pacifiers and baby toys clean, using a hand sanitizer, and making sure your food is properly prepared. If you are traveling in a developing country, make sure to only use bottled or purified water for drinking, making ice cubes, mixing baby formula, preparing food, or brushing your teeth.
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