June 8, 2023

Essential Tips from a Pediatrician Mom for Traveling with Kids

Traveling with children can be an exciting and enriching experience for the whole family. However, it can also come with its fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to maintaining the health and well-being of your little ones. As a pediatrician and mother myself, I understand the concerns parents have when it comes to traveling with their children. That's why I've compiled a list of essential tips to help make your travel experience smoother, safer, and more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Travel Survival Kit

Having a well-prepared travel kit can be a lifesaver, particularly when unexpected situations arise during your trip. 

When traveling, keep your medications in your carry-on bag for easy access and to reduce the risk of loss or damage. Retain their original packaging for identification, dosage instructions, and proof of legitimacy. Also, ensure any liquid medications comply with travel regulations. Alternatively, consider chewable or alternative forms of medication suitable for your child's age.

It's essential to strike a balance between having all the necessary items and keeping the kit lightweight for ease of carrying. Remember that you can always purchase additional supplies or stop at a local pharmacy at your final destination if needed.

Travel Kit Essential Items

Not all the items listed below may be necessary for every trip, so pack accordingly. I have intentionally omitted items that I prefer to purchase locally if needed during travel in order to keep your packing light. 

*Note that the provided links are based on my personal preferences as a mother and the recommendations I make to my patients. Feel free to explore alternative options within the same categories that best suit your family. 

Digital thermometer:

I recommend one that allows for oral, underarm and rectal temperature to cover all age groups!

First Aid Kit:

  • The size of your first aid kit should be determined by the type and duration of your trip. For smaller, local, or short-distance trips, an on-the-go kit would be suitable. However, if you're planning activities like hiking, traveling with multiple children, or embarking on international trips, I highly recommend opting for a more comprehensive kit.
  • As a mom, what I've discovered to be of utmost importance is that band-aids actually have the magical power to stick and, even better, that some of them possess the superhero ability to be waterproof!
Over-The-Counter Medicines: 
Skin Care:
  • Calmoseptine. I absolutely adore this multi-purpose ointment! It can tackle diaper rashes, minor cuts, burns, bug bites, and even soothes that annoying itchiness. It eliminates the need for a whole army of individual creams in your bag.
  • Tubby Todd. When venturing into dry climates, my trusted skin care product line for kids, which I use daily with my own child, always comes to the rescue. It works wonders for sensitive skin and provides excellent relief for eczema.
Sun Care:
  • ThinkBaby Mineral Sunscreen. Don't let the name deceive you! This product is suitable for toddlers, older kids, and even adults. Remember to apply a broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed areas of the skin, regardless of whether it's a cloudy day.
  • Encourage your child to wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and lightweight, loose-fitting clothing for extra protection. Seeking shade during the peak sun hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., is also a wise move.
Insect Repellent:
  • Off Deep Woods Wipes with 25% DEET. DEET is the go-to ingredient for effective mosquito repellents. It works in keeping biting pests like mosquitoes and ticks, including those that carry Lyme disease, at bay. For infants over two months and children, the maximum recommended concentration is 30 percent. Products with around 10 percent concentration provide approximately two hours of effectiveness. As the DEET concentration increases, so does the duration of protection.
  • Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus is my recommended DEET free option. Has a duration of action that is comparable to that of about 10 percent DEET. 
Prescription Medications:
  • Zofran is an antiemetic medication that can be prescribed by your pediatrician for children who may experience motion sickness, travel-related nausea, or other causes of vomiting during their trip.
  • Mupirocin is a topical antibiotic ointment that can be prescribed by your pediatrician. It can be applied to minor cuts, scrapes, and wounds to help prevent infection. 
  • Remember to pack all prescription medications that your child requires. This may include essential items like inhalers, EpiPens, and insulin. Be sure to follow any specific storage instructions and consult with your child's pediatrician for guidance on managing and administering these medications while traveling.
  • If you are traveling to a malaria-endemic area, ask your pediatrician about medications for malaria prevention. Malaria endemic areas can be found in various regions around the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, among others.

Satisfy Those Little Appetites

If your child is anything like mine, you know that a hangry child can quickly turn a fun trip into a challenging experience! That's why it's always a good idea to be prepared and have some snacks, water, and goodies on hand that you know your child will absolutely enjoy.

Pack a variety of portable, non-perishable snacks such as granola bars, dried fruit, trail nut mix, or crackers. These snacks not only help keep hunger at bay but also provide a quick energy boost to keep your child going during long journeys or busy activities.

Carry a refillable water bottle for each child. Staying hydrated is essential, especially when traveling and exploring new places. Having water readily available helps prevent dehydration and ensures your child stays refreshed throughout the trip.

Remember, a well-stocked snack arsenal can make all the difference in keeping your child happy, satisfied, and ready to enjoy the adventures that lie ahead during your travels.

Smart Packing Hacks

  1. Pack Familiar Toys: These can make a big difference in helping your children adjust to new surroundings and schedules.
  2. Provide Age-Appropriate Entertainment: This will ensure that your little ones remain engaged, occupied and content throughout the journey. Pro tip- consider selecting items that won't create a lot of noise if they accidentally fall or get banged on by your child. This small consideration can make a big difference in maintaining a peaceful and harmonious travel experience.
  3. Pack Clothing Layers: Adopting a layering strategy can greatly contribute to your children's comfort throughout the journey. Layering not only allows for easy temperature regulation but also provides flexibility as you encounter different climates and environments.
  4. Lightweight Stroller: Consider opting for a lightweight stroller that offers both comfort and practicality. Look for models that are specifically designed for travel, as they are often compact and easy to maneuver through crowded streets and narrow spaces. Some lightweight strollers even have the remarkable ability to transform into a backpack! This feature is incredibly handy when you visit museums, historical sites, or locations where strollers are not permitted inside. Our travel stroller is the gb Pockit Air All Terrain and it did great on our travels around Europe.
  5. Compression bags: I'm quite particular about diapers, so I tend to pack more than necessary for the flight. But here's a nifty space-saving trick: compression bags! They work wonders for squeezing out that extra air and creating more room in your luggage.

Prioritize Play, Rest and Sleep

While the excitement of reaching a new destination may tempt you to immediately start exploring, it's crucial to remember that children have different needs when it comes to adjusting to new surroundings.

One way to address this is by factoring in dedicated playtime for your little ones. Allow them some time to engage in activities they enjoy, whether it's running around in a park, playing with toys, or simply having fun with their siblings. This playtime not only helps them burn off energy but also assists in adjusting to the schedule and scenery changes of the trip.

Additionally, it's essential to ensure that your children get enough rest and sleep during the journey and at your destination. Traveling can be tiring, and children may need extra sleep to recover and recharge. Stick to their regular sleep routines as much as possible, even if it means adjusting your plans accordingly. This will contribute to their overall well-being and help them adapt to the new environment more easily.

Remember to be flexible with your itinerary, allowing for breaks and downtime as needed. Kids thrive when they have a balance of play, rest, and sleep. By prioritizing these aspects, you'll create a more enjoyable and less overwhelming travel experience for everyone.

Dive Into the Local Culture

Experiencing the culture of a destination goes beyond visiting famous landmarks or engaging in tourist activities. It involves engaging with the local people, traditions, customs, and way of life. Traveling provides an opportunity for you and your children to immerse yourselves in the local culture, which also includes experiencing the local food.

Although it may be tempting to stick with the familiar, there are numerous benefits that children can gain from embracing exploration. Here are some examples:

  1. Language and Communication Skills: Engaging with a different culture often means encountering a different language. Encouraging children to interact with locals and attempt to communicate in the local language enhances their language skills and boosts their confidence. Learning a few basic phrases, such as greetings or simple expressions, not only facilitates communication but also shows respect for the local culture.
  2. Cultural Understanding: Exposing children to different cultures from a young age helps them develop empathy, respect, and a broader worldview. It allows them to understand that people have diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and practices. Food is an integral part of any culture, and by allowing your children to try local dishes, they can gain a deeper understanding of the customs, traditions, and way of life in the destination you're visiting.
  3. Broadening Palates: Exposing children to different types of food from a young age helps expand their palates and develop a more adventurous and varied approach to eating.
  4. Creating Lifelong Learners: Experiencing different cultures ignites curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. It encourages children to ask questions, seek answers, and become lifelong learners. Traveling allows children to witness history, art, traditions, and social structures come alive, sparking a desire to explore and understand the world around them.
  5. Crafting Unforgettable Family Memories: Making Moments to Treasure!

I hope you find these tips enjoyable and valuable as you embark on your upcoming adventures!

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