Traveling with children adds a whole new exciting dimension to your adventure. Children find wonder in everything and inspire us adults to do the same. But they do come with a unique set of risks to consider and prepare for. As a Nomad Nurse, I’ve helped huge numbers of families prepare for their holidays. Here I round up our top 10 tips to keep that family trip fun and healthy.
Safe drinking water
Water-borne diseases are very common in lots of places and often tap water will be out of the question. So, think about how you will get the kids to drink safe water (and avoid contaminated sources). The easiest option would be to take a purification device, such as the AquaPure Bottle. Bottles like these filters out viruses, bacteria and parasites. The special filter is built into a convenient bottle that you can fill up from any freshwater source and drink immediately. Water purification tablets are another option; much simpler than having to boil water or rely on expensive and potentially risky shop bought water (not to mention the environmental benefits of not buying lots of plastic).
Kids inevitably come with spillages and grime so don’t skimp on spare, quick-drying clothing! Consider taking some biodegradable clothing wash or all-purpose travel cleanser, so you can wash as you go.
Teach Animal Safety
Kids are much more likely to get have run-ins with animals than adults. Rabies is endemic in many parts of the world, and it may not always be obvious that an animal is carrying the disease. Children can be curious, provocative and unaware of the dangers. Keep them well away from animals and talk to them about the consequences before and during the trip. Kids will not always say if they have been bitten especially if the wound is small and they are worried they might get a telling-off. Check them over regularly for any potential bites & scratches. Always treat an animal bite abroad as an emergency and consider pre-exposure vaccinations for rabies which could be life- saving. (Don’t forget the other vaccines too which greatly increase the chances of a stress-free healthy trip!).
Wound care and illness abroad
Younger children are often prone to cuts and bruises, especially off exploring on holiday! They can put random things in their mouths/nose/ears, can pick up a bout of diarrhoea, and on average kids have 8 colds a year. Take a good medical kit like the Ultimate, which includes plenty of wound care, antiseptics, rehydration treatment (children get dehydrated VERY quickly), child friendly medications, plus loads of other useful first aid for families. Take a thermometer so you can keep track of any fevers and know if/when to seek medical help. Sterile kit, included in the Ultimate Medical Kit, are really important if you’re going to countries where medical care may not be as sterile or well-stocked. You’ll have your own supply of sterile kit to hand to Doctors if any treatment is needed, so they can use safe, sterile equipment on your family.
Practice Hand hygiene
Most bugs are spread via contaminated hands and it’s really important you get kids washing theirs regularly, especially before eating. Unfortunately, many kids deeply dislike washing their hands and the younger they are the harder it can be to get them to do it! For some reason, many little ones do find it exciting to rub in hand sanitisers, though, so take plenty along including mini versions that are easy to slip into hand luggage & day bags. Stick their favourite superhero on the front and tell them it will give them a ‘power-up’ every time they use it!
Prepare for Breakages
Kids break stuff all the time. Duct tape solves a lot of problems when it comes to children and the trail of destruction that they can leave behind: broken toys, rips in clothing, bags or mosquito nets…. bring a big roll, you’ll be suprised how useful it can be!
Entertainment on the go
Take easy-to-pack toys that spark creativity and maintain attention rather than ones that will quickly lead to a loss of interest. Good (and recyclable) options are sticker books, activity note pads, and colouring books. Also be creative – not all toys are toys. Use the things you find along the way like paper cups and sand from the beach or double up with your travel equipment and give them a bit of guyline to make bracelets with (if they’re old enough). Do not take the most special prized toy – it WILL get lost and if it doesn’t you will spend the whole trip worrying that it will!
Keep up a Sleep Routine
Kids of all ages tend to fall asleep at strange times in new places. Try and get a good rhythm going as soon as you can, everyone will have a better time when they’ve had enough sleep. Save yourself from being trapped in uncomfortable positions by kids falling asleep on you on planes/trains – invest in inflatable travel pillows. This little bit of luxury might just free up your shoulders and prevent a few aches & pains. Small travel towels are compact to carry and can double up as a convenient cozy blanket for those long plane or coach rides.
Skin care in the sun
Kids’ delicate skin can be damaged easily in the sun. Take a high factor sunscreen and soothing after sun. Keep them in the shade as much as possible and encourage use of hats and sunglasses. Don’t forget it doesn’t have to be super sunny for there to be high UV radiation and little ones should be covered up as much as possible.
It’s safest to void malaria areas when traveling with children, but if it can’t be avoided make sure you are prepared with the correct malaria tablets for your children. Children of all ages can (and should) take them. Even if malaria is not pesent at your destination, mosquitoes & insects can carry a number of other diseases, so it’s best to practice bite avoidance measures. DEET is safe to use from the age of two months (and ultimately much safer than getting malaria or dengue fever for instance, which can be devastating for children). There are a range of other effective insect repellents, too, which may be strong enough in non-malaria areas or that are safe for even younger children. Other insect bite avoidance measures to take include; using treated mosquito nets, using knock down room vaporisers before bed, and using insecticides on clothing. Just avoid any chemicals being ingested or getting in the eyes. Book a travel health consultation with a Nomad expert to discuss all the malaria tablet & bite avoidance measures recommended for your family.
Children are always welcome at Nomad travel clinics and our travel health nurses will tailor their advice to your family. We’ll go through youor individual trip and circumstances, making recommendations on how to keep everyone in the family safe & healthy. Book now for a comprehensive travel health consultation. We are a friendly bunch and love to see families going away to enjoy themselves & broaden their experience of the world. Lets make it the best experience possible!