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Travel Health and Safety Tips

Follow these tips to keep your family prepared and healthy on your next trip.

By Cathy Lanigan, Lonely Planet

As well as the potential health risks of your destination, you should consider the age and temperament of your children, and what sort of trip you're planning.

Before You Go

Doctor and dentist

It's a good idea to make sure your child is as healthy as possible before you go. Talk to your doctor about illness prevention and work out a plan of action for common problems. If your child has an ongoing condition like eczema, diabetes or asthma, be clear about what to do if the condition worsens while you're away.

It's worth making sure you child has a thorough dental checkup before going away and remember to leave enough time for any treatment to be carried out if necessary.

Immunizations

Children should be up to date for all routine childhood immunizations and they'll need the same travel-related vaccines as you. Most fully immunized school-age children won't need further doses of routine immunizations, but babies and younger children who haven't completed their normal childhood immunizations may need to complete the schedules earlier than normal. Ask your doctor about immunizations when you start planning your trip. Some vaccines have age restrictions and your doctor should be able to help you with these restrictions.

If kids are going to react to an immunization, it will usually happen about 48 hours after the injection and can generally be settled with one dose or two of acetaminophen (an over-the-counter drug such as Tylenol). Children can go on to have further reactions and sometimes develop rashes 10 days after the immunization, so the earlier you get kids immunized the better.

If you are traveling internationally, ask your doctor what vaccines are required and check the Center for Disease Control Travelers' Health page.

Medical kit and medications

It's a good idea to take a child-specific medical kit as well as your own basic medical kit. If your child takes any medications regularly (for asthma, eczema or diabetes, for example) remember to take a good supply of these medications with you. Otherwise, a basic medical kit for children should include most of the following:

  • Remedies for pain and fever
  • Antibiotics for common ailments like ear infections or coughs. Discuss this with your doctor, but you could consider these if you are planning on going to remote areas where you may not have ready access to medical care or supplies.
  • A plentiful supply of oral rehydration salt sachets, calamine cream or aloe vera gel for heat rash and sunburn, motion sickness remedies, sunscreen, thermometer, antiseptic wipes and antiseptic liquid or spray
  • Plastic spoons are useful for measuring out doses of liquid medications. A plastic syringe can be handy for giving medicine and fluids to a reluctant patient.

If you do need to give your child medication when you are away, remember children need a child-sized dose and not all medications are suitable for children. Follow the dosing instructions given by your doctor or on the packet. Doses are generally based on your child's weight. You should also check that your child's medication is legal at your destination.


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