Traveling with children can expose them to new and foreign diseases, and straying from the households usual sleeping and eating routines can increase their likelihood of getting sick. Before children have had a chance to exist to a new environment, they are prone to travel-related illnesses such as motion sickness, diarrhea and infections. Here are a few tips for keeping your children healthy and happy as your travel.
1. Consider special vaccines and medications.
Depending on where you’re traveling to, you may need to consider unusual vaccines. For example, traveling to sub-Saharan or South America may require vaccinating for yellow fever. Make sure that a few weeks before your trip, you schedule an appointment with a doctor to discuss your travel details and any necessary vaccines, as well as other health considerations.
2. Preventing Malaria and diseases spread by insects.
When traveling to an area with frequent malaria outbreaks, it would be wise to talk to your doctor about preventative antimalarial drugs. Also avoid insect bites, use insect repellant and wear protective clothing when outdoors. Sleeping under a bed net can also help prevent these diseases.
3. Preventing diarrhea.
Diarrhea is one of the most common health hurdles that affects children while traveling. The best way to prevent diarrhea in infants is to breastfeed. In older children, focus on giving them plenty of fuilds as dehydration is one of the biggest causes of diarrhea. As a precaution, only allow your children to drink water that has been treated, and try to stick to cooked foods that are served hot, or fresh fruits and vegetables that have been peeled and washed.
4. Protecting against rabies.
Children are more likely than adults to contract rabies, as they are more likely to attempt to touch or pet an animal they see. Have talks with your children about staying away from any strange animals they encounter. You may also want to consider a rabies vaccine, so that in the off chance that your child does get bitten, they are protected against rabies.
5. Altitude Sickness.
Some people and children may experience sickness when traveling to altitudes above 5,000 to 10,000 feet. Symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, dehydration, and and trouble breathing. If you think this may be a problem, ask your doctor about the altitude sickness medication, acetazolamide.
6. Motion Sickness.
Motion sickness may also afflict your children when traveling by car, bus or train. If you have a child who frequently suffers from motion sickness, be prepared with over the counter motion sickness medication, and have travel bags on handy that your children can use to breathe into if they begin to feel nauseous while traveling.
7. Automobile accidents.
Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death in children while traveling. Even while traveling, children should always use age-appropriate car seats. You will probably need to bring your car seat with you from home, as they may not be widely available where you are traveling to.
8. Water accidents.
After car accidents, drowning is the second leading cause of death in children while traveling. When in or near a body of water, children should always be closely supervised and fitted with a life preserver jacket to prevent drowning.
9. Preventing infections.
Infection is another problem that affects many children while traveling. Infection can be transferred through parasites that are present in the soil, so children who play in the sand or who wear sandals are more likely to develop an infection. Dress your children in closed-toe shoes and avoid drying clothing outside or out on the ground to avoid infection and infestation.
10. Sun exposure.
Sun exposure poses another risk to children while traveling. People who develop sunburns often before the age of fifteen are much more likely to develop melanoma later in life. Younger children are also more sensitive to the sun because they have thinner, more delicate skin. Exposure to the sun is a much more serious threat when traveling closer to the equator. It is also important to consider the sun’s rays that are reflected up off of water or snow. Always use sun block with SPF of 25 or more, and apply and reapply according to the label instructions.
* Weinberg, Nicholas “Traveling Safely with Infants and Children,” wwwnc.cdc.gov
* “Safe Basics Travel Tips,” www.kidshealth.org
* “Staying Healthy While You Travel,” www.kidshealth.org
* “Traveling with Children,” wwwnc.cdc.gov