Ask the Expert: Traveling with Children

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These days we have so much information at our fingertips to help solve any parenting dilemma (admittedly, most of the times we may have too much). You could argue the Internet was both the best and worst thing to ever happen to parenting.Despite the sometimes overwhelming amount of information, it’s still nice to consult a parenting expert once in a while to get some new ideas, advice and even a dose of perspective.

At LiveMom, we want to help answer your questions. We have a recurring feature called Ask the Expert, brought to you by The Austin Diagnostic Clinic, that will take on a wide range of subjects. Got a question? Post it below, on our Facebook page or email us and we’ll try to get it answered!


 How young is too young for travel?

There is no easy answer to this question. Each trip is different, each child is different. The risks compared to the benefits to the child need to be weighed. These will be different than those of the parents as risks of disease, safety,and environmental risks will be higher for young children. Reasonable eat,sleep, and feedings schedules must also be considered. In some instances, travel with young infants and children is unavoidable and careful planning is required.

When should you bring your children for travel immunizations?

Most travel clinics will see children 6 months of age and over, although all children should have their immunizations reviewed and risks discussed as part of the parents’ travel consult. We recommend bringing your child in as soon as you make travel plans to ensure your child is as protected as possible.

What should parents be aware of when traveling with children?

– Heat-related illness risk is higher in children. Children should avoid environmental extremes while traveling. Avoid direct sun exposures between 10:00 am and 4: 00 pm, wear hats, light colored cloths, and use sunscreens. Keep children in the shade when possible and ensure they consume plenty of fluids.

– Animal bites are more common in children as well. Many countries have a higher rabies risk and all bite wounds should be treated as an infected wound unless the vaccination status of the animal can be proven. Parents and children need extra education both before and during travel to be mindful not to touch unknown animals.

– Insect-borne disease risk is the same for children as that of adults but children often have more severe symptoms. An insect repellent with DEET at 30 % or picaridin at 20% should be applied to all exposed body areas as directed on the product. One application will not last all day in most cases and will need to be reapplied.

Are there specific concerns about food or drink that parents need to be more cautious about with kids?

– Toddlers and preschool-aged children are unaware of personal hygiene and food and beverage precautions. These children are also most prone to severe, long-lasting diarrhea. All children can become severely dehydrated quickly when they become ill.

– Advance planning to ensure safe water for drinking, formula, and food preparation is very important.

– Safe snacks are helpful for short trips.

– Use of cleansing wipes for pacifiers and toys are recommended when water is not safe.

What should you always have on your person with children?

We typically recommend these items be included in a first aid kit:

  • Alcohol swabs and liquid disinfectant solution
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Adhesive bandages, including butterfly shape skin closure strips
  • Blister pads or moleskin
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Aloe gel for sunburns
  • Tweezers
  • Ace Wraps for sprains and strains
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  • Oral rehydration solution packets for diarrhea or dehydration
  • Digital thermometer
  • Eye drops

Medications

– It is always important to pack your child’s routine mediations. Plan on bringing enough medications for the trip in the original prescription bottle plus a written copy of the prescriptions.

– Many countries restrict which medications can be brought into the country so be sure to check with the destination countries’ embassy websites for restrictions. These can include OTC items such as Benadryl or Sudafed, or prescription medications such as pain meds and ADHD medications.

Items that are recommended to take with you (note: please check age restrictions before administering any medication to children):

  • Antacids (e.g., Zantac, Prilosec, Tums)
  • Antihistamine (e.g., Benadryl) for allergic reactions
  • Antimotility medication (e.g., Imodium or Lomotil)
  • Bismuth subsalicylate (e.g., Pepto-Bismol)
  • Laxative/stool softener
  • Cough (dextromethorphan containing) and cold (pseudoephedrine containing) remedies and lozenges
  • Pain relievers/fever reducers (e.g., acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen)
  • Motion sickness medication (e.g., Dramamine, meclizine)

What about children who need an Epi-pen or inhaler?

If your child has been prescribed an epi-pen be sure you bring two with you. Pack these in your carry-on luggage if flying for easy access. Many countries have increasing levels of air pollution that may aggravate asthma and other airway diseases; be sure you pack your child’s inhaler and an extra in case of emergencies.

Snacks

Sealed, prepacked snacks are safe and easy for traveling children. Because children often snack throughout the day and may be hungry when away from safe food and beverage, prepackaged snacks will help prevent food-borne illness in your child.

If you will be traveling for long periods do you have any recommendations for parents?

Entertainment

Children have short attention spans. It is recommended that you pack lots of activities if you are planning a long trip to keep them happy. Coloring, books, electronic games, music, and travel board games are a few of the ideas that most parent use to help keep children content on long trips.

How often should you try to take a break?

Most children like to move and, just like adults, they need to be able to stretch their legs while on long trips. Walks around the plane or boat cabin about every 1-2 hours will help most children remain more calm and content throughout long flights.

Crystal Cherico, RN is the Practice Manager for Internal Medicine and the Travel Clinic at The Austin Diagnostic Clinic North. For more information about the Travel Clinic and how our nurses can help keep you and your family healthy during international travel, call us at 512-901-4486 or visit ADClinic.com.

Catherine Prystup
About Catherine Prystup 2108 Articles
Catherine Prystup founded LiveMom.com out of a desire to build a better community for Austin-area moms. She has three children, ages seventeen, eight and three years old.

1 Comment on Ask the Expert: Traveling with Children

  1. This is great! Traveling with children is so worth it, but definitely stressful! Easing that stress is all about being prepared and this post knocked it on the head with everything! Entertainment and medicine is definitely my number 1!

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