-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- From long plane rides to
cramped road trips, family vacations can spell trouble, but parents
can take steps before leaving home to help their families return
with fond memories rather than horror stories, a pediatrician
"Having three kids, I know how stressful it can be traveling with children, especially young children. Listening to 'are we there yet?' [and] trying to maneuver through security or just trying to cure boredom from being crammed in a car or airplane can challenge anyone's patience," Dr. Hannah Chow, Loyola University Health System pediatrician and assistant professor in the pediatrics department at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, said in a Loyola news release.
No matter how fun or exciting the destination, the process of
getting there can be downright boring for kids, but the doctor
noted that the cure for boredom is variety. In preparing for a
trip, parents can purchase inexpensive games, books and new toys at
a local dollar store, she pointed out.
"Bring books, movies, games, toys, and don't forget extra batteries and chargers, or when the power fades you'll have some very upset kids. It's always a good idea to pack extra headsets as well because these are easily broken or lost," said Chow. "My husband always says whoever invented the car DVD players deserves the Nobel Peace Prize."
Given the uncertainties of travel, parents should also not
venture far from home with their kids without packing adequate
healthy snacks, the expert noted.
For road trips, she suggested packing a cooler with nutritious
snacks such as fruit, chopped vegetables, drinks, crackers,
sandwiches and fruit snacks.
Families traveling by plane are more limited in what they can
bring, but it's critical to have snacks in the event of delays or
technical problems. The pediatrician advised that parents pack
cereal, granola bars, fruit snacks and roll ups, oranges and trail
mix. Individual drink mixes that just need added water are also a
good idea, she said.
Before families even leave home, parents should also pack a
first aid kit, cautioned the pediatrician. Since a wide range of
unexpected injuries can happen when far from home, the expert
advised including the following items:
Chow warned, however, that parents should not ask their
pediatrician to call in antibiotic prescriptions while away from
home. "This impacts our ability to provide accurate medical care
for your child. If you have prescription medications, make sure you
have enough for your trip. I've had to explain to parents I am not
licensed and cannot call in a prescription in Mexico," said
Parents who plan to bring their children on trips to foreign
countries should first check the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention travel vaccination website for information on any
additional vaccines that may be needed, noted the doctor.
She also advised would-be travelers to consult a travelers
clinic before leaving home. "Travel vaccines are typically
out-of-pocket expenses but worth the money. The hepatitis A vaccine
is routinely given to children and I recommend it for adults who
travel as well. It protects against a virus transmissible through
contaminated food and water," explained Chow.
When overseas, parents should remember the following tips: don't
drink tap water; avoid ice; do not eat raw food from street
vendors; and bring tissues to serve as emergency toilet paper.
"My sister's friends learned the hard way not to eat Peruvian guinea pig prior to a plane flight. Make sure everything is well-cooked and bring a small bottle of antibacterial soap just in case," added Chow.
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides more
travel safety tips for parents.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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