Taking your kids for an international trip while keeping them healthy requires a lot of work, which can be overwhelming. Luckily, a kids travel guide from professionals is available for easy access. While COVID makes traveling more complicated, other common health-related concerns are to know about taking kids on a long-distance trip.
If you need to travel internationally with children for specific reasons, make sure to follow this guide.
What Info to Research
Researching is an important task to do for any parents or guardians before taking children on an international trip. You need at least two to three months to find all the necessary information. They include:
1. COVID Restrictions
Every country has specific requirements for travelers regarding COVID restrictions. Ensure to check through their official government websites or make a direct call for more specific responses (especially if the children have specific conditions).
2. Weather and Climate
Weather patterns and climate in the destination can significantly affect children. Check the local weather when scheduling the trip schedule and prepare everything based on the information you get.
3. Important Facilities
Make sure to know the locations of nearby hospitals and clinics, embassy offices, minimarkets or supermarkets, drugstores, transportation hubs or vehicle rentals, and places to safely roam with children (if your trip is a leisure one).
Things to Discuss with Family Doctor
The American Academy of Family Physicians has compiled standard things to discuss with your family doctor before making a trip. They are:
1. Vaccination Details
Many countries have vaccine requirements to protect visitors from catching diseases like malaria and typhoid fever. It would be best if you visited your doctor to talk about vaccination details, especially for children. They can inform you about which vaccine children should take before traveling to certain countries.
Examples of typical vaccines given to children before international travel (aside from those mentioned above) include influenza, rabies, encephalitis, yellow fever, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, meningococcal meningitis, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, Ebola, and of course, COVID.
2. Dietary Restrictions or Precautions
Traveling to a country with food that is so different from home can present new problems, especially if you travel with children who have specific conditions. You should do research about local foods and discuss with the family doctor what food you should bring to provide a proper meal for the kids.
If the kids have allergies or specific dietary requirements, make sure to describe everything to the doctor. This information will help in creating a proper meal plan for them during the trip.
3. Details of Medical and Dental Check-up
Doing a complete medical and dental check-up is important before traveling to other countries. You can prepare for this by seeing the family doctor. They will guide you in the check-up preparation and explain the results when you and the children finish the process.
4. Doctor’s Note
Most airport securities allow passengers to carry important medicines in clearly labeled containers. However, having a doctor’s note with you will add some assurance. The doctor’s note will also be useful if you carry medicines for special conditions.
Aside from seeing the doctor and doing a check-up, you must also check your insurance details. Find out which pediatricians and hospitals with pediatric services you can visit with your policy. You must also review the insurance details about coverage for the children.
Things to Prepare for Trip
Now that you get all the information, it is time to make a preparation! The details of things to pack can be different between families with unique needs, but in general, you need to prepare these things:
1. Weather-appropriate Outfits
Match the outfits with the weather and climate in the destination. Cold climate or weather requires at least three layers, made of fabric that will not chafe on the child’s skin. For hot weather or climate, make sure to pack comfortable outfits that allow the skin to breathe. Children also need a hat, cap, or any other protective headgear regardless of the weather.
2. Common Ailment Medicines
Common ailment medicines include fever reducers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, cough and cold medicines, and common itching like steroid cream.
3. Masks, Hand Wipes, and Hand Sanitizers
Prepare disposable and washable fabric masks with proper sizes for the children. Make sure the masks fit their faces well without leaving gaps. Disposable hand wipes are also essential because children tend to be less cautious about touching surfaces. Meanwhile, the hand sanitizers must have a gentle formula for their skin.
4. Medicines for Allergy Symptoms
Allergy symptoms can hit anytime, especially during a stressful situation like international travel. The medicines depend on the type of allergy symptoms the kids have. The most common products to take including eye drops for allergy relief, antihistamine, nasal steroids, and children’s cough syrup.
5. Medicines for Indigestion and Upset Stomach
Stomach problems are pervasive among children who are traveling, especially after consuming foods that are not gentle toward their digestive conditions. Therefore, you should bring several types of medicines, such as nausea relief like Emetrol, motion sickness medicine, probiotic supplement, chewable fiber supplement, and kid laxative.
6. Sunscreen and Lip Balm
Protect your children’s skin with sunscreen with a minimum of 15 SPF (30 if you visit a country with a hot climate or summer). Prepare kid-friendly products in addition to the usual product for adults. Do not forget lip balm with SPF to ensure full protection against UV rays.
7. Medical Equipment
Basic first aid kits like a thermometer, band-aid, bandage roll, gauze, and tweezer can prove useful during an international trip. You must also pack prescribed equipment like an inhaler.
Make sure you pack all the medicines in sealed containers, clearly labeled. Put all of them in separate handheld bags for easier security checking. Avoid storing these medicines in your luggage, especially the most important ones. If you lose your luggage for some reason, the children will not end up without the medicines.
Health Guidance during the Journey
Now that you have prepared everything, it is time to think about the journey itself. International travel usually involves a plane ride, so you must think about the logistics and trip details. For example, you want to ensure that important medical products (including inhalers and allergy first aid products like EpiPens) are within quick reach.
If the plane ride is long, you may prepare simple foods that the kids can eat to fill their stomachs, especially if they have sensitive digestions. Crackers, wafer bars, and nuts or chips in Ziploc bags are fulfilling and easy to consume. You can also call the airline beforehand to inform them if your children have specific conditions like a food allergy.
Make sure the kids are always warm in the fully air-conditioned plane. You can put two or three layers of outfits that you can shed if the destination has hot weather or climate. Also, keep the lip balm within reach just in case they develop chaffed lips.
Important Things to Do in the Destination
Water, local weather, and food are important things to consider once you and the kids arrive at the destination. Keep them and yourself healthy by following these precautions:
1. Play Safe with Drinking Water
Not all countries have potable tap water. If you are unsure about the water quality, find the nearest minimarket to stock up mineral water. Use it to make hot beverages, dilute formula, and even brush teeth. Avoid drinking cold beverages, especially since you cannot be 100 percent sure about how the ice cubes are made.
2. Be Selective with Food
Again, stocking up packed food like biscuits, chocolate bars, chips, and boxed juice from minimarkets is safer for kids than buying any foods from the streets. If you want to be more adventurous, buy them hot, cooked meals. Pay attention to the cleanliness of a restaurant or food stall before you take the kids to eat there.
3. Apply Regular Sleep Schedule
Proper sleep is vital to keep everyone’s health and stamina during an international trip, especially for children. Plan your activities on a day so children can sleep at regular times, with enough hours (ideally eight to 10 hours for the kids). Make sure they get a good sleeping atmosphere and stop their screen time an hour before bed.
4. Make Sure to Hydrate
Paying attention to drinking water is a must for international travelers. However, hydrating is important to stay healthy, especially for kids. Start the day by drinking a lot of water at the hotel and pour some mineral water into reusable bottles for the kids to carry. You can bring boxed juice or milk, so the kids do not get bored with plain water.
5. Practice Strict Health Protocol
Strict health protocol is mandatory nowadays. Make sure the kids wear proper masks when going out. Wash their reusable masks right after going out. Carry hand sanitizers everywhere and make sure they use them whenever necessary. Find facilities to wash hands with soap whenever you visit a place.
Preparing for an international trip is complicated, especially when taking children. However, following the kids travel guide properly and preparing everything long before the D-Day will ease your worries. So prepare your trip and enjoy the best time with the kids while staying healthy.