Not much is worse than having one of your children get sick or injured when you are far away from home. It’s happened to our family more than once, and as a mother of three, I have learned a few things about keeping my kids healthy while we’re on vacation and helping them feel better when things go wrong. These are some of the best tips I can offer your family, based on our own personal experiences.
One of the easiest ways to get sick while traveling is to allow yourself to get dehydrated. Unfortunately, it’s very, very east to get dehydrated when traveling during the hot summer months. Without easy access to unlimited supplies of water, like you have at home, you may not get enough to drink.
Plan ahead by packing water bottles wherever you go, or purchasing drink cups that give you unlimited refills. And make sure you drink water, not soda, at least part of the time for maximum hydration. As I noted in this article, kids need between 5 and 9 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise in the summer, and this includes walking around outdoor attractions.
Beware the sun
A little sunshine is great for boosting Vitamin D production. But too much sun exposure, especially in the summer when the rays are strongest, can result in burns and raise the risk of cancer. Most kids can benefit from frequent application of sunscreen, protective clothing, and lots of breaks in the shade.
Prepare for allergic reactions
For kids with severe allergies, travel can be extra tricky. Our friend, whose son has severe allergies, taught my 12-year-old twins how to use an EpiPen recently, and even gave them some trainers to practice with, in case they were ever in a situation where they had to help save her son’s life. Make sure everyone in your traveling party knows how to recognize an allergic reaction, and what to do in case of an emergency.
Prevent foot injuries
Blisters, sprains and other foot injuries are among the most common injuries kids can suffer during summer travel. It may be tempting to wear sandals, flip flops or other light weight shoes, our family podiatrist, James G. Crotty, DPM, recommends a sturdy shoe with good support for walking.
Indulge in moderation
Fried funnel cakes, ice cream, popcorn and cotton candy all washed down with a giant soda. You might want to grab a few extra plastic bags for the ride home, or to line the trash cans back at the hotel, because kids have a hard time eating the menu of their dreams and not suffering later.
Petting zoos, hand rails, playground equipment, high-traffic restrooms: germs are lurking everywhere. Help your child stay healthy while traveling this summer by carrying hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.
Pack a first aid kit and travel size medicine chest
It is not always easy to dash out to the drug store to get the supplies you need if one of your kids gets sick or has a small injury. A first aid kit and a few medicines, like an antihistamine, pain reliever, and a decongestant can help you get through a rough patch and back to the fun.
Know your doctor’s number
When our youngest had a bout of intense and prolonged vomiting on a trip we took when she was about four years old, we called our pediatrician. Thankfully, he got the message and called us back on a Saturday night, and then called in a prescription at the closest pharmacy, saving us a trip to the emergency room in a strange city.
Know Poison Control’s number
After accidentally giving my child a double dose of guaifenesin last year, I wrote an article to let parents know what happens when you call Poison Control. Our incident turned out fine, but if you need Poison Control, and you’re not at home, will you know how to reach them quickly? Program 1-800-222-1222 in your phone, and you will, at least if you are in the United States.
Have your insurance card handy
If you do have an emergency that requires immediate medical assistance, you’ll need to have your insurance information on hand. It’s also not a bad idea to look up participating urgent care clinics and emergency rooms in your provider list if you know ahead of time where you’ll be staying.
More by Tavia:
Kids in Summer Sports Need More Water to Prevent Dehydration
What Happens When You Call Poison Control?
What to Do If Your Child is Allergic to Sunscreen