Travelling with Kids
Your child may need extra immunisations if you are travelling overseas . See your GP or a specialist travel doctor six to eight weeks before you intend to travel, especially if visiting developing countries, as some vaccinations have to be administered in several doses over several weeks. If backpacking or going for a longer period see your doctor three months in advance. This is not just a personal health issue. There are countries which require their visitors to have received certain vaccinations. Also there are countries which recommend medications that should be taken to lower the risk of getting highly prevalent diseases for which there are no vaccinations.
If you are going to a part of the world where there is malaria, a serious infection caught from mosquito bites, your child will need protection against that, too. Malaria is a problem throughout the Tropics and can kill. Anti-malaria tablets should be taken from one to two weeks before travelling and must be continued for four weeks after leaving a malaria region.
Care in the Sun
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Exposure to sunlight in childhood is the main risk factor for melanoma and other types of skin cancer. Toddlers can burn easily in the sun so precautions to avoid this are vital.
- damage to the skin is caused by UV radiation (UVR) from the sun. UVR can’t be seen but it can burn and permanently damage skin
- babies and toddlers have more delicate skin than older children and adults and will burn more easily
- we all can burn even if it is cloudy or if the sun doesn’t feel very hot
- the sun can be particularly intense from October through to March in New Zealand
- the sun is strongest between 11am and 4pm during the months of daylight saving
- keep your child out of the sun between 11am and 4pm as much as possible. If you go outside:
- stay in the shade
- cover the stroller / push chair or play area with a shade cloth or thicklywoven blanket
- dress your child in a broad-brimmed hat or legionnaire’s hat and close-woven clothing that covers the arms and legs
- use only ‘approved’ umbrellas and light coverings as many brands can let the sun through and are unsuitable for proper protection
- use broad spectrum (30+) sunscreen on parts of the body that are uncovered. Apply evenly and re-apply frequently.
In the sunshine? Remember…
- SLIP on a top
- SLAP on a hat
- SLOP on a good sunscreen
More information is available from:
Here are a few tips to make travelling with children a little easier:
- if flying ask for bulkhead seats with a bassinette
- choose appropriate accommodation such as self contained motel units or apartments with two or more bedrooms
- if you’re renting a holiday home or villa, does it have a pool? You’ll need to be extra watchful if it does
- even if your holiday company is offering ‘free child’ accommodation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s ‘child friendly’ so check to see what’s on offer
- hire furniture items such as stroller, cot and high chair, rather than cart your own
- use disposable nappies
- use babysitting facilities at your accommodation so you can have a break
- remember that the price of children’s clubs at some resorts is an extra expense
- pack sunscreen, hats and insect repellant
- pack sensible toys, particularly the special one. Offer toys one at a time, replacing each toy with a fresh one once the child shows signs of boredom.
All children require a passport when travelling overseas
Keeping children safe while the family gets from point A to point B.
- always use car seats or booster seats
- don’t stack items on the back ledge of the car or over the steering wheel as these items will become dangerous flying projectiles if you have to brake suddenly
- use shade cloth to keep the sun from shining in your child’s face
- plan for plenty of toilet stops. Frequent rest stops help reduce the risk of motion sickness.
Bus or train
- use seatbelts if available
- don’t allow your child to crawl or walk around while the vehicle is moving because they may fall. Keep your child seated or on your lap.
- try to feed your toddler while taking off or landing as the frequent swallowing can help prevent the buildup of pressure inside the ears
- encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids to reduce the risk of dehydration
- pre-arrange children’s meals when you book the flight.
Unfamiliar meal routines
Toddlers are notoriously fussy eaters. Travelling to unfamiliar places with new foods and different mealtime routines can further disrupt your child’s eating habits
Relax and remember that a healthy child will never voluntarily starve themself. Trust them to eat when they’re hungry. Follow these safety tips from the University of London’s Hospital for Tropical Diseases when visiting a developing country:
- avoid salads, raw vegetables, shellfish, locally made ice cream, unpasteurised milk and dairy products
- drink bottled water and avoid tap water and ice in drinks
- eat only food that’s freshly prepared and is still hot
- peel all fruit yourself
- try to keep a little bit of familiar mealtime routine, such as having breakfast in the usual way
- don’t assume you will always find something your child will like on a restaurant menu
- carry plenty of their favourite snacks and drinks when touring
- phone ahead and see if the restaurant you’re planning to visit has a children’s menu
- if you are unsure of the water supply only drink bottled water or bottled fruit juices
- use bottled water when brushing teeth
- wash your child’s hands frequently – carry hand sanitiser lotion.