Traveling With Children
Most of us dream of traveling. The lure of exotic and distant destinations is to most of us a siren call! But wait! having kids quickly brings a sobering touch and pulls us back to reality. Before we plan a trip, we need to make sure that we are fully prepared to firstly identify when our child has a problem, and then to make sure that there are medical facilities on hand that will help us deal with the problem that arises.
The degree of preparedness will vary, depending on many factors:
- Age of the child: Obviously infants and toddlers have a different set of problems as opposed to young children and teenagers.
- Your destination: what are the medical facilities available at the location that you plan to visit?
- Are you traveling in a group or are you by yourself? – if you are traveling with a well organized, travel company, then it is very likely that the company will have contingency plans to deal with different emergencies including, children. Of course, you need to discuss this with them, beforehand.
- What is your mode of transport? Flying, driving or sailing each have their own peculiar hazards and you need to take the necessary precautions.
So while specific advice may vary depending on your situation, here are some general measures that you should adopt whenever you are traveling with children.
Children are notoriously picky eaters especially, if you yourself have encouraged picky eating habits. Infants of course, require their own special food. If the child is being breast-fed then there really is no problem but otherwise you will have to carry appropriate food for your children.
Do remember especially, if you are visiting destinations with different cultures and foods, you yourself may have difficulty adjusting to the food and it is more than likely that children will have a hard time. It is best to encourage all in the family to be familiar with the type of food that you can expect at the destination that you are going to and start getting acclimatized to that type of food while you are in Mumbai.
You should pack with you adequate amount of clothing that is both age appropriate, and appropriate for the climatic conditions of the location that you are visiting. If you will be spending a significant amount of time outdoors, do remember to carry long sleeved shirts/tops and lowers that cover exposed extremities. Insect bites are pretty common and bring with them the risk of illnesses like malaria, dengue, Japanese Encephalitis and a host of other illnesses.
You should carry with you medicines for relief of common symptoms. Please make sure you carry the following medications with you:
- Paracetamol for fever.
- Simple cough syrup for symptomatic relief of cough (only for kids more than five years of age).
- Oral rehydration solution: in case your child should get diarrhea
- Medicines to prevent vomiting like ondansetron or domperidone.
- Medicines for travel sickness like hydroxyzine (also good for allergies)
- First aid kit: should include bandages, gauze pieces, antibiotic ointments (Betadine or T-Bact) and cleaning antibiotic solutions (Betadine) and adhesive tapes (Micropore 1″)
- Abdominal pain (symptomatic relief only): dicyclomine.
Please schedule your appointment with your doctor to find out the right trade name and dosages that are appropriate for your child. Different brands of the same medicines have different strengths and it is possible that an inappropriate dose may be administered if medicines are substituted.
A healthy dose of it! While it is good to be cautious and take preventive action, there is no point in being hyper about what might happen. The intention is to have fun on your holiday and take a relaxed break.
Things to keep your child occupied
If you have planned a long trip, then do make sure that you are carrying enough and variety (children have very poor attention span) of stuff to keep your child amused. While most parents take it as a license to carry with them Playstation or X-box or the like, do remember that these are addictive, teach children no social skills at all and many times expose them to a shocking amount of violence and sexual innuendos that the unsuspecting parents would never have allowed.
Since you will be spending so much time together why not bond with your children by reading to them or telling them a story or playing some games with them?
Depending on where you are traveling, internationally or domestically, you may have to comply with vaccine requirements.
Most immunizations must be given a month before travel.
- Domestic Travel: In most areas, no special vaccines are required. In some areas, like sub-Himalayan regions, it may be wiser to get the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine.
- International Travel: Different countries have different requirements e.g. most of Africa and South America, you need to take the Yellow Fever vaccine. Other countries require you to carry certification for different vaccines. Do check with your travel agent or at our clinic (we have a list of the requirements).