The family vacation is drawing closer and you’re all looking forward to having some time to relax and take a break from your regular schedule. Before you head for the door, however, be sure you’ve done everything you can in advance to make this time away with your loved ones as picture perfect as possible.
Talk to your healthcare provider to see if your children should receive any vaccinations beyond their regularly scheduled ones before you set out. If you’re breastfeeding, you may need vaccinations, as will both parents depending on the destination. Ideally talk to your physician or a travel health practitioner (available through many pharmacies), six weeks before your departure date.
It’s a good idea to prepare a travel health kit to take with you no matter where you’re headed. Some basic items to include, in addition to any medications you’re currently using, include:
- 0.5% hydrocortisone cream to treat minor skin irritation
- multiple sizes of adhesive bandages
- antibacterial spray or cream to apply to wounds to prevent infection
- hand sanitizer
- antiseptic wipes to clean wounds
- a first aid quick reference card
- packets of oral rehydration salts to treat dehydration caused by diarrhea
- tensor bandage for sprains
- tweezers for removing ticks, splinters etc.
- pain or fever medication
- insect repellent
Speak to a pharmacist for suggestions on other over-the-counter products that would be useful to have on route.
Prepare for flight
Many parents get anxious about travelling with young children. After all, we all know how disruptive a crying or fussy child can be for other passengers. But you can make lengthy flights more enjoyable for your little ones by taking certain precautions. Flying late in the evening or overnight when your children are already tired is a good option. Packing activities such as colouring books, word searches/puzzles or other age-appropriate reading material can be a good boredom buster for kids too, especially on lengthy flights. Pack several of these in your carry-on and take them out in intervals so your child has something to look forward to.
While it’s safe to travel when your children have colds, they may experience temporary ear congestion or earache. You can help make them more comfortable by giving them a children’s antihistamine or mild decongestant an hour before take-off. Using a drop or two of all-natural saline solution in each nostril can also help clear congestion. According to the Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation, most symptoms of ear congestion occur in the final 15 minutes before landing so encourage your child to yawn, swallow or chew gum (if they’re at least five years old) during descent. Keeping your child well-hydrated throughout the flight is also a good idea to prevent the nasal secretions from drying out.
Veteran travellers also suggest packing healthy snacks for children who may be averse to airplane food. Avoid foods laden with sugar and opt for things like Cheerios, apple slices with a squeeze of lemon to avoid browning, or celery sticks with cream cheese for dipping. To check what foods are permitted on airplanes go to www.catsa.gc.ca/Page.aspx?ID=58&pname=CompleteItemList_ListeCompleteArticles&lang=en
If you’re travelling by car, consider putting extra rear view mirrors trained on the back seats so you can keep an eye on children without having to turn around. Give toddlers and older kids their own disposable camera so they can record their own observations. You might be pleasantly surprised by what they come up with.
Like the airplane, have a variety of activities such as handheld puzzles, wordsearches and colouring books you can pull out from time to time to keep boredom to a minimum. Consider bringing a portable DVD player and headphones on long rides to help keep children entertained.
Unlike regular life, time shouldn’t be your enemy on vacation. Allow yourself more hours than you think you need to get to your destination so you can make frequent stops without stressing and give your children opportunities to see interesting things along the way. With a little bit of planning, the journey can be just as exciting as the destination. Happy travels!