With this recent cold spell, many of you are looking to get away somewhere warm. I don’t blame you – I’d be travelling too, if I wasn’t due in December! I think you’ll have the best vacation possible if you're well prepared, so here are my top tips for travelling with kids.
1. Flying with a toddler or baby can be a daunting task. I recommend parents feed their children (e.g. breastfeed or bottle feed infants and give your older kids some water, milk or a snack) on the way up and down, in order to help their ears "pop."
2. Some kids may benefit from a dose of Ibuprofen before they fly, as I do, to mitigate ear pain.
3. Parents ask me all the time about medications like Benadryl and Gravol. Be warned: while these can make some kids sleepy, others will have a paradoxical reaction and become more awake and irritable. I recommend trying a dose at home before flying just in case. Much to my chagrin my kids get hyper on both medications.
4. For newborns and infants, I recommend adding a sling or infant carrier to your baby-wearing gear. That way your infant is comfortable and you have your hands free, which is essential when juggling passports, tickets, and money. I find that most often babies will fall asleep when worn, leaving you to handle whatever comes your way through the flight and help you stay sane.
A child’s delicate skin burns quickly!
1. All children should wear a wide brimmed hat and UV shirts and shorts to minimize sun exposure. These are widely available online and in sporting goods or department stores.
2. On areas that cannot be covered - like a child's face and feet - I recommend a barrier sunscreen, such as one made from zinc or titanium. This is just like diaper cream and does not rub in well, but provides great sun protection without the chemicals. Look in your local pharmacy or natural food store. There are many products like these on the market. Check out more on sun protection.
Some locations have lots of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can carry diseases such as Malaria and Dengue, and even in best case scenarios, itchy bites are not fun. Travellers to the Caribbean and Central and South America also now need to be aware that an outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease chikungunya continues to spread in those areas. Unfortunately there is no vaccine or treatment for the infection, so prevention is key. Chikungunya causes symptoms such as fever and joint pain, although it's rarely fatal.
1. Avoid the outdoors from dusk till dawn.
2. Wear light-colored long sleeve shirts and pants when possible.
3. Use a low concentration Deet spray when needed. Citronella may help prevent bites in some, but not all kids. My boys are always attacked for some reason. For kids less than ten years-old, we recommend DEET 10% max; while older kids can have up to 30%. Avoid contact with the nose, eyes, and mouth. Check this out for more on mosquito bite protection and treatment.
4. Keep the area of the bite clean and dry.
5. Benadryl spray or a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone can take the edge off individual spots.
6. Benadryl orally can decrease swelling and provide itch relief if the bites are widespread.
When food is kept at warm temperatures, bacteria flourish, which is one reason many people get food-borne illnesses when traveling. Potentially poor food handling procedures in large settings don’t help matter.
1. Be cognizant of what you and your family are eating and how it is being prepared and stored.
2. Fruits and vegetables you can peel yourself or cook may be more desirable.
3. Meats and dairy products that are not handled well are formidable threats.
4. Children over two years-old can take Dukoral, which helps prevent traveler diarrhea.
Malaria, hepatitis and cholera are some infections that are more common in other countries and can be prevented with certain vaccines.
1. Check http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ to obtain more vaccine related information for the country you are traveling to.
Have a safe and wonderful trip! (I’m jealous!)