School is almost out, and summer vacation is around the corner. This means it is time to take that vacation you have been saving for all year with the kids. Unlike your younger, single days, however, traveling with children comes with a few extra challenges. Below are a few common healthy summer travel tips for kids that will help you get through your vacation with maximum fun and minimum doctor’s visits.
Carry Healthy Travel Snacks
Bring healthy snacks, since airport and roadside food is generally pretty unhealthy. A child unused to eating fried or packaged food might easily feel indigestion after a few days of this travel fare, even if they’re loving it. Foreign cuisine that their stomach isn’t used to, even if not contaminated, can have similar effect. Vacationing with a crying, achy child isn’t fun for them or for you, so pack some of their favorite healthy snacks to have on hand in between the more novel meals you might all be tasting.
Avoid Food Poisoning
While one of the joys of travel is exploring new food, when traveling with kids some extra care is warranted. Avoid street vendors, since in many places they face less regulation. Ask locals where good and safe food can be found, since they have an inside track on which places to avoid (if their cousin’s ex’s mom got sick eating there that one time, word will always get around). In certain countries, make sure to only drink bottled beverages, and that includes when brushing your teeth. While this may mean not trying those fried local grasshoppers the nice man on the corner is selling, it will also mean your kids’ more delicate immune systems aren’t fighting off strange bacteria.
Trains, planes and (rented) automobiles can be hotbeds of germs. So can local buses and subway systems. When I first moved to New York City and started riding the train, I came down with my first (of several) cold in years. Carry hand sanitizer and some anti-bacterial wipes to help get through traveling on these public forms of transportation without coming down with the sniffles.
Get Appropriate Vaccines and Preventative Treatment
The CDC has a travel page where travelers can check which vaccines they need to travel to any particular region. It’s a good idea to make sure both you and your kids get any necessary vaccines before setting out, as well as checking travel advisories for any other health threats unique to the area. A quick stick or prescription can prevent a lifetime of regret.
Dress for Success
Some vacation destinations have intense daily rainstorms (hello, Florida). Some are scorchingly hot during the day but cool down significantly at night. Research the weather before leaving, focusing not just on the average temperatures but on any regional climate quirks the area may be known for. And always bring sunscreen when planning to spend time outdoors.
Bring A Small First Aid Kit
Bandaids, disinfectant, and basic medicine are good additions to any luggage. No need to go overboard, but a basic first aid kit can save roaming the city looking for a pharmacy after a headache or scraped knee.
Watch Out For Jet Lag
Prepare young children for jet lag by slowly moving bedtime and tap time in the days before travel, and scheduling some extra rest time on the first couple days of vacation. While you’re at it, try to grab a little extra sleep yourself – no one wants to be cranky while lounging on a tropical beach.