How is it that kids always manage to get sick in time for the holidays? This can be especially stressful if you’re travelling to an area that has poor health infrastructure.
With the school holidays just a few short weeks away, what fundamentals are necessary for a medical travel kit?
- Firstly, if your children are on any chronic (regular daily) medications, those need to be packed.
- Next, if you’re travelling to a malaria area, antimalarials are imperative. Many parents say they’d prefer not to use malaria prophylaxis and test the child if anything develops. This is a very dangerous attitude since malaria can be deadly. It’s also important to note that the only way to confirm/rule out malaria is with a blood test. Any fever following a trip to a malaria area is suspected to be malaria unless proven otherwise. Do you really want to subject your child to a painful blood test if they just happened to pick up a virus from their friend when they got back from holiday?
This doctor hates travelling with bottles of syrup; they are bulky and there is a risk of breakage and leakage. However, the reality is that most kids under the age of six need their meds in syrup or suspension form.
- For pain and fever, a combination medicine containing paracetamol with an anti-inflammatory means taking one less bottle. Even better, if your little one will allow it, suppositories are far easier to travel with and have the benefit of working fast!
- Your basic gastroenteritis pack should include a probiotic, rehydration solution powder and a mucosal protective agent (e.g. Tasectan, Smecta), all of which take up little space.
- A small tube of rich moisturising cream will go a long way for unexpected sunburns or eczema, which loves popping up in unusual environments. Obviously, sunscreen is a must!
- If your child has a natural allergic tendency, a bottle of non-sedating antihistamine is probably a good idea (look for small volume preparations of 50ml).
- Don’t forget saline nasal spray – totally underrated but oh so useful! If you’re flying and your little one is prone to nasal congestion or ear problems, a topical decongestant spray (e.g. Iliadin, Otrivin, Drixine) should make the aeroplane trip more bearable.
- There is very limited place for travelling with a bottle of unmixed antibiotic for “just in case” and that needs to be discussed with your family practitioner. Antibiotic resistance is a scary reality and is being driven by the reckless use of antibiotics when they are not necessary.
- And lastly, don’t forget the fundamentals of a healthy holiday – nutritious food, plenty sleep, hand washing and sun protection.
Buckle up and be safe!