Looking after your own health and safety when travelling can be difficult at times, but when travelling with a family child travel health and safety is likely to be on your mind much of the time to keep your kids safe and well. Listed below are a few things you should either do, check or be aware of regarding health and safety when travelling with children:
Holiday health tips for kids
- See you doctor well in advance of the start of your trip. Tell the doctor where you are going and for how long. Discuss any vaccinations that may be required. Very young babies may not require vaccinations but discuss with your doctor about the risks and what is recommended for where you are going. Make sure you know your kids blood groups in case of emergencies.
- For kids with pre-existing medical conditions who are on medication, ensure you take more than enough supply of medication to cover the whole trip.
- If you are going to countries where malaria prevention is prevalent children must take antimalarial medication too, but the dose will be smaller than for adults. Talk to your doctor about which antimalarial is suitable for your kids.
- Protect your children from mosquito bites particularly when sleeping. Mosquitoes aren’t too keen on air conditioning so you’ll have less of a problem if you are staying in an air conditioned hotel, but it is still worth checking the room has no mosquitoes before bedtime. For hotels without air conditioning sleep under mosquito nets where possible and ensure there are no mosquitoes inside the net before turning out the light. For baby cots try taking a small mosquito net with you so you can create your own protection when you get there. If that’s not possible, cover your baby in a lightweight sheet with some insect repellent sprayed on it.
- Be sure to carry enough of the child medications you would use to treat your kids at home as these may not be readily available in the country you are going to. See the Medical kit section on the Travel health and advice page for information on the very minimum medical kit you should carry when travelling.
- For basic allergy treatment carry an antihistamine medication such as Piriton. Be sure to following the dose instructions for the age of your child. You should use Piriton syrup or the equivalent for children under six.
- Carry your most commonly used medication with you when you are out and about in case of emergencies.
- For disabled kids and kids with special needs see the Disabled travellers health section on the Travel health and advice page for tips to watch out for when planning your holiday.
NOTE: I am not a medical person; the advice given on health issues are general travel health tips and are not intended to be equivalent to proper medical advice. If you have any doubts regarding travel health issues consult your doctor.
Holiday safety for kids
- Check your accommodation has no glaringly unsafe features such as loose or wobbly balcony railings, exposed electrical wires or if there are any other unsafe features you are not happy that you or your family are around, ask to be moved to another room. Even if the balcony railing appears secure don’t let your child venture on to the balcony alone if your room is above the ground floor, balcony railings can look all too inviting to climb on.
- If the hot water in the bathroom is scalding hot warn your kids to be very careful when using the hot taps.
- If your children have not yet learned to swim, warn them of the dangers of going near the swimming pool or sea unsupervised. Sadly, there have been too many stories in the past of fatal accidents involving non-swimming children and swimming pools so never leave your child unattended near one.
- If the climate at your holiday destination is hot dress your kids in loose cotton clothing. This is best for absorbing sweat and keeping them cool.
- To prevent sunburn use high sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen such as 50+ at all times on your child. Make them wear a sun hat, the type with a neck flap is ideal and cover up wearing a T-shirt, even for swimming, if they are showing signs they have had too much sun.
- When visiting places where the climate is changeable such as mountains or cycling on hilly terrain, you and your children may be too hot or too cold within a short period of time. Particularly as you may have periods of exertion and then rest. Dress your kids and yourself in thin layers of clothing so you can add and subtract the layers easily.
- Children suffer glare from the sun just as much as adults so get them to wear sunglasses when out in bright sunlight.
Food and drinks
- When you are out and about eat at busy restaurants where the turnover of food is likely to be high. This will reduce the risk of food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhoea. Also wipe down cutlery before using to eat with. Use straws if drinking out of bottles or cans and don’t let them eat salads which will have been washed in local water.
- Warn your children of the dangers of drinking water if the water is not safe to drink where you are. In such cases they must only drink bottled water and it is advisable that they clean their teeth using bottled water too and not have ice in their drinks unless you know it has been made with purified water. Carry water purification tablets with you if you can’t trust the bottled water.
- Children can suffer dehydration easily in hot countries as they might not drink enough unless they are thirsty. Make sure they drink water regularly. Babies can be given extra water too to supplement their milk diet.
- For more tips on travelling with children see the Kids travel how to guide.
If you found the above child travel health and safety tips helpful, please share so others can benefit from the information as well or if you have any questions or tips of your own on child travel health and safety, leave a comment below.