Planning a family vacation can be fun and rewarding, but it can also be stressful trying to predict all the things that might go wrong as your trip approaches. Of course, you hope that everyone is happy and healthy before you head out—but that won’t always be the case. Germs are everywhere, especially on airplanes, trains, and in other public areas you enter during your travels. This can make it tricky to completely avoid viruses or bacteria that cause illness. Staying calm and knowing how to take care of your sick kiddo can help with a smooth recovery and maybe even salvage some of your vacation.
Preparing for Illness
To help reduce financial stress, it is recommended that you check with your insurance company to find out which clinics and hospitals in the area take your insurance, or research getting traveler’s insurance, as it may provide coverage for illness while traveling.
Packing some over the counter medications can be a smart idea to take care of the more common illnesses. Some to consider; Tylenol, ibuprofen, Benadryl, Tums for upset tummies, Imodium (only for age greater than 6) for diarrhea, MiraLAX if constipation has been a problem in the past (traveling often makes constipation worse) hydrocortisone cream or Benadryl cream for bug bites, aloe for sunburn, and plenty of sunscreen. It may also be helpful to pack a simple first aid kit with band aids, antibiotic cream such as Neosporin, gauze and a tweezers.
Steps for Treating a Sick Child While Traveling
Traveling in a car or airplane can expose children to bacteria, viruses, or other types of illness, such as motion sickness. Understanding the basics of what to do if your child becomes sick is crucial for making sure you and your family can still enjoy the trip while helping your son or daughter recover.
If your child is prone to motion sickness, there are some things you can do to alleviate their symptoms. Begin with limiting sensory input, such as screens or books, during the car or plane ride. Provide proper ventilation and have a plan for food during the trip, as some foods can aggravate your child’s stomach and make symptoms worse. If the motion sickness is severe, discuss possible medication options with your child’s doctor before heading out.
If your child comes down with a cold or the flu while on vacation, stay calm and analyze the situation before making any decisions. Consider calling your home pediatrician for information or heading to an urgent care facility to be seen in person. Provide plenty of fluids and think about dedicating a day to staying back with your sick child to rest and recover.
Preventing Illness Altogether
You can’t predict when your child will get sick, but if you’re planning a vacation well in advance, the best way to avoid it is through preventative measures. There are several precautions you can take before and during a vacation that will help keep your children healthy and happy the whole trip.
Make Sure They’re Up-To-Date on Immunizations
Before you travel, especially out of the country, make sure your children are up-to-date on all of their immunizations and vaccines, including the regular flu shot for children who are at an appropriate age. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers an informative schedule detailing when children should get vaccinated against measles, whooping cough, and other serious illnesses. Be sure to keep immunizations in mind even when you aren’t traveling!
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Eating a balanced diet, staying active, and getting plenty of sleep year-round can greatly impact your child’s immune system and overall health. Children should be eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables in order to help boost their immune system. Choose foods that are rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin D, as well as foods like yogurt that contain probiotics for gut and digestive health.
Keeping your children active is also important. But we don’t mean taking your child to the gym to run on the treadmill or lift weights! Indoor or outdoor sports can help boost circulation and have a positive impact on immune systems, so try heading outside for a game of soccer, or if it’s cold, have a little friendly competition with some indoor basketball.
Sleep is yet another crucial factor in immune health. Deep sleep is your body’s time to recover and repair itself, and it’s particularly important to your growing children. Being sleep deprived can weaken the immune system, increasing the chances of catching a cold or the flu.
Practice Good Hygiene
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but washing your hands and wiping down dirty surfaces, handles, and seats is a good practice to have when you’re trying to avoid getting sick. Public places can be filled with every germ imaginable, so keep a pack of anti-bacterial wipes with you while traveling to wipe down bus or airplane seats, hotel surfaces, and handles that could be playing host to harmful bacteria. Make sure your children know the importance of washing their hands before they eat and after using the bathroom. Another key habit to practice with them is keeping their hands away from their faces and mouths.
Get Well with Help from The Urgency Room
We’re dedicated to promoting health and wellness and getting you back on your feet as quickly as possible after sickness or injury. If your child develops an illness while home in Minnesota, head to your nearest Urgency Room to be diagnosed. Our board-certified emergency room physicians can treat your child in less time than your regular emergency room visit. Open conveniently 365 days a year, we’ll be able to get you back on your feet during peak travel times at one of our locations in Eagan, Vadnais Heights, or Woodbury.