Are your children fit for travel?

Kids playing in the surf

Planning for a family trip can be a nightmare for parents, not only do we have our own packing to do, but there’s also the kids’ packing, the tickets, the passports, then there’s the whole palaver of the journey!

In the UK we take for granted access to “safe” food and water. As travellers increasingly visit more and more exotic destinations we put ourselves at risk of acquiring many diseases unfamiliar to us at home.  However, armed with the knowledge of how a disease is spread and how to prevent it, we can protect our children from unwanted souvenirs such as diarrhoea.

Travelling abroad with children doesn’t have to be a worry as long as you take proper precautions before you go. For your peace of mind, always find out before hand where the local health clinics or hospitals are, just in case.

Top tips to keep your children happy and healthy on holiday:

When on holiday, your health depends on your pre-departure preparations, the everyday health precautions that you take and how you handle any medical issue or emergency that arises.

A few basic preparations and precautions taken before and during the holiday can help to ensure the whole family has a happy, healthy holiday.

Prepare for the journey
If you are travelling outside Western Europe (or even just thinking about it) contact your GP, practice nurse or travel health clinic as soon as possible for advice about disease prevention and any immunisations you might need.

Take out a comprehensive travel health insurance policy. If travelling to a European Union country, visit the post office for an application form to receive reciprocal health care within the EU but remember, travel insurance is still needed within that area.

Include children in the journey preparation. Have them prepare a ?backpack? with a favourite toy or game, include snacks and drinks and a few surprise items to be opened during the journey to avoid boredom.

Carry extra pre-prepared baby milk preparations for infants, airlines don?t provide these and a delayed flight is stressful enough without a screaming, hungry child.

The changes in pressure during air travel may cause ear problems in children. This can be combated with bottles for infants and sweets to suck or chew for older children.

Check that cots, high chairs and other apparatus needed for small children are available at your destination (there may be a hire charge).

Carry a first aid kit
Your pharmacist can advise on medication to be included in your first aid kit but basic contents should include:

  • Sun screens and sun blocks
  • Child-friendly insect repellent
  • Assorted plasters/band aids (waterproof)
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Tweezers (for removing splinters/sea urchin spines)
  • Calamine lotion
  • Crepe bandage and safety pin (good first aid support for sprained limbs)
  • Make children aware of their surroundings
  • On arrival at the hotel or apartment, take your children on a tour of the grounds to familiarise them with the area and to identify any hazards, for instance swimming pools without attendants and protruding windows or structures they might trip over or bump into.

Small children should never be out of their carers’ sight, set boundaries for older children and re-enforce the rules about not talking to strangers.

www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk

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