Taking a summer vacation disrupts your family’s established eating and sleeping habits. It also takes time to adjust to the food, water and air quality in an unfamiliar environment. With some thoughtful preparation, you can help keep your family healthy during the big summer escape.
Some vaccines require time to become effective. If you’re traveling abroad, start preparing in advance. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for a list of current recommended vaccinations for your travel destination. Ask your physician which vaccinations are right for you and your family.
Know common ailments
No matter where you’re headed, there are some health issues that your family is likely to encounter, including sunburn, jet lag, earaches, motion sickness and diarrhea. Learning about the illnesses you might encounter while traveling will help you be ready for whatever comes your way.
Keep it clean
Hand washing reduces the incidence of diarrhea by about 30 percent, so remind your kids to wash their hands often. Keep toys clean by using sanitizer and a soft cloth. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers don’t replace washing with warm soap and water, but they’re a healthy alternative when water isn’t available.
With all the activities, summer sweets and late night snacks, it can be challenging for you and your kids to keep up with good oral hygiene. Be sure to pack floss, toothbrushes and a new fun flavor of toothpaste to encourage brushing at least twice a day.
It’s a good idea to travel with any medications and first aid supplies your family uses regularly, as well as some key over-the-counter treatments that will come in handy if you pick up an illness along the way. Sometimes it’s hard to find a pharmacy at your destination, so you’ll be glad you came prepared! Here’s a list of products to consider packing:
- Hand soap
- Hand sanitizer
- Pain reliever
- Motion sickness patch, pills, bands or cords
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Anti-itch ointment
- Water safety devices
Bring your medical history
Do some research before your vacation to find medical and dental care facilities close to your destination. You should also carry a copy of your medical history. Having this available for every family member can help health care professionals make appropriate decisions about treatment. A medical history should include:
- Name, address and phone number
- Blood type
- Immunization records
- Physician’s name and emergency phone number
- Dentist’s name and emergency phone number
- Name, policy number and phone number of health insurance carrier
- Chronic health problems
- Current medications
- Name, address and phone number of an emergency contact
It’s important to take the same wellness and safety precautions as you do at home in order to keep your family healthy during summer vacation. A little advance planning will make it possible for you to relax and enjoy time off with your family.