Keep ‘Em Healthy When You Hit The Road

Family vacations offer important together time and priceless memories for you and your gang, but don’t let your summer trip get derailed by unexpected illness.

1. Do your homework. Know where you’re headed and be aware of regional risks that could lay you low. If you’re traveling overseas check to see if kids need vaccines or medicines to protect against endemic illness. Know which foods to avoid (especially street vendor stuff). Check out the CDC website online or call your doctor for referral to a travel clinic. Don’t depend on word of mouth from friends and family whose information may be out of date.

2. Fly smart. It’s no joke — air travel is one of the surest ways to come down with a cold or worse, and it’s not recirculating air that’s the culprit. Microbes live for hours to days, and almost everything on board has been touched by lots of big and little hands before you. No one’s wiping those drop-down trays with Purell, I guarrantee it, so bring along your own sanitizing wipes and give surfaces a few swipes as you buckle up. Don’t forget my secret weapon — wash hands often for as long as it takes to sing the birthday song!

3. Don’t forget the summer basics. Too much sun, an accidental run-in with poison ivy or oak, or overdoing it in hot weather may not seem like a big deal, but they can mess up a vacation before you can say DISNEYWORLD. Use plenty of sunscreen, watch exposure, and hydrate. Stay on top of new rules about sunscreen labeling and the dangers of portable kiddie pools. No one wants to be stuck in the hotel room with a kiddo recovering from heat stroke when you could be out having fun.

4. Avoid motion sickness. That scenic drive up the mountain or a sunset sail can turn sour pretty quickly with a little barfer on board. Gear up with preventive wristbands (they really do work) or OTC non-drowsy Bonine and start at least 30 minutes before launch time to maximize effectiveness.

5. Bring supplies. Know your kiddo’s tendencies and be prepared. If Susie is a sitting duck for swimmer’s ear, ask your doc for a prescription to bring along just in case. If Junior gets stopped up whenever he eats junk food, pack a natural stool softener to help move things along.

6. Expect the unexpected. Map out where to go in case of emergency once you’re at your destination. Know where the nearest ER or urgent care clinic is located. Many hotels have arrangements with local doctors, some will even make house calls to your room. Better to know them and not need them, than to need them and not know them.

Happy Travels!


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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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The Mama ButtonThe information provided by MamasOnCall is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, but is for information purposes only. You assume full responsibility for the health and well-being of your family. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychiatric condition.