Traveling children require specific precautions and attention , which is why it is very important to keep child health under control when planning a trip with children.
The reasons for moving are the most varied; Unfortunately, you don’t travel just for pleasure. The Italian Society of Pediatrics (SIP) has drawn up a guide in 10 points , which takes into account all situations, even those in which he goes to developing countries, for example in the case of children born in Italy who go to vacation in their countries of origin.
Traveling with children, what to do before the trip and what to pack
The first recommendation of the SIP is to organize the trip in advance and contact the pediatrician, 4-6 weeks before departure, to evaluate some factors: the child’s medical history, immunization status, any contraindications to the trip, the need to administer vaccines or undertake a antibiotic prophylaxis, depending on the country you want to go to.
Naturally, the advice is to pay particular attention in case of very adventurous and / or long-lasting journeys and for infants or children with chronic or immunocompromised diseases.
The SIP vademecum lists 12 drugs and aids in common use that cannot be missing in the suitcase of the little traveler :
> disinfectant solution;
> hand sanitizer gel;
> analgesic and antipyretic;
> cortisone ointment against insect bites;
> aids against motion sickness, to combat motion sickness, sea sickness or air sickness;
> broad spectrum antibiotic;
> oral rehydrating solution (particularly indicated if you are traveling to countries where traveler’s diarrhea is more frequent);
> mosquito repellent products ;
> high protection sun creams ;
> any medications used routinely, at least in sufficient quantities for the entire duration of the trip;
> any health insurance certificate;
> antimalarials (if you go to countries at risk, where prophylaxis is indicated).
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Traveling with children, by car or plane
In the car, the child must always be seated in the appropriate child seat ; in the case of hired cars, make sure that these devices are present and functioning. Maintain good vehicle ventilation and give children light meals to prevent nausea and vomiting .
In an airplane , changes in pressure can cause barotrauma, with pain in the ears and tinnitus, which can be reduced by swallowing . In younger children and infants, the use of a pacifier is useful.
Seats in the middle of the cabin are recommended because movements are less noticeable . Air travel is not recommended for acute infectious diseases such as sinus and ear infections, recent surgery and severe chronic conditions.
In case of very long journeys, in countries with different time zones, pay attention to jet lag , trying to gradually get the child accustomed already before departure, anticipating or postponing bedtime, depending on whether you are traveling east or west .
For long journeys, bring appropriate materials to distract the child, such as books and games, a small supply of food and drink, and toilet items .
Traveling with children, in the mountains
A mountain holiday with children in summer is recommended due to the milder temperatures , but some precautions must be taken.
In particular, it is necessary to pay attention to acute mountain sickness , a frequent disorder in children, associated with the achievement, in a short time, of altitudes above 2500 meters.
Also pay attention to adequately protect children from both the cold and the sun. In the case of infants, it is preferable that the stay in the mountains is not too short to facilitate acclimatization . Furthermore, it is not recommended to exceed 2000 meters in height.
Traveling with children, playing in the water
At the sea, attention must be paid not only to the sun but also to the water . Drowning is the second leading cause of death in traveling children; it is therefore essential that there is always adult supervision , in addition to the use of adequate safety devices. Avoid going offshore with the child, as there is a danger of currents and tides. Take baths only in equipped facilities. It is also advisable for little ones to wear suitable shoes to protect their feet.
If swimming in the sea does not generally involve the risk of contracting infectious diseases, fresh waters can carry numerous infections and therefore should be avoided.
When children are exposed to the sun, they should always apply adequate protection , as well as wear a hat and sunglasses.
Babies under 6 months of age should be kept in the shade and wear light clothing, which protects most of the body surface.
Traveling with children, beware of traveler’s diarrhea
One of the most common pathologies during international travel is the so-called traveler’s diarrhea , which mainly affects some countries: Mexico, Central and South America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa. In children, the course is more severe and prolonged, with a greater risk of complications, first of all dehydration.
To prevent traveler’s diarrhea, when traveling to high-risk countries, it is important to respect some precautions:
> drink only water and beverages contained in sealed bottles ;
> do not use ice in drinks;
> consume only pasteurized or boiled milk ;
> avoid the consumption of raw meat , raw vegetables, unpeeled fruit;
> avoid brushing your teeth with water that could be infected;
> avoid the consumption of uncooked eggs or handcrafted products , such as ice cream, puddings, fruit juices;
> always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water (or use sterilizing wipes), before preparing meals.
The SIP vademecum contains numerous other very useful tips and tricks when traveling with children, especially in countries and / or in situations that present higher risks.