Travelling with Children
Children have a short attention span & tire easily, so avoid too many long bus trips or consecutive days in museums. Whenever possible, break long journeys & leave some unstructured time each day for children to play. Choose accommodation with them in mind, bungalows with verandahs, garden or access to a pool can provide welcome relief for child & parent alike!
Dress children in bright colours so that they are easier to spot in the crowd. Arrive at the airport early, & request seats in front of the bulkhead, or near an exit for more legroom. Feed during take off & landing to encourage swallowing & hence minimise ear discomfort. Carry prepared bottles of juice – flying can be dehydrating & even breastfed babies may need supplemental fluids. Hand luggage should include disposable nappies, plastic bags, moist towlettes, a change of pants, a change mat is often easier to use on your lap than in the aircraft toilet, a few books & favourite toys.
Disposable are the best option, they are available in most major cities but may be difficult to find in rural areas of developing countries.
EATING & DRINKING SAFELY
Basic rules are described earlier in this book.
If possible breast feeding infants is recommended in order to avoid difficulties with sterilisation of bottles. Long life milk & packaged juice in sealed cartons are safe & available. Always carry plenty of safe water. Take a plastic bowl, cup, straws & cutlery to facilitate impromptu meals. Ensure teeth are cleaned with bottled water.
SUN & HEAT
Always carry a good sunscreen at least 15+. Limit sun exposure to early morning & late afternoon. Ensure plenty of fluid is available. Cover up in the sun, dress children in loose cotton clothing & a brimmed hat.
Dress children appropriately, several layers are better than one thick layer. Particularly keep extremities warm with hat, gloves & socks.
See earlier section. Unless in air-conditioned accommodation infants & children should sleep under permethrin treated mosquito nets.
ACCIDENT & ANIMAL BITES
Be especially vigilant whilst travelling as you have less control over a child’s environment. Drowning poisoning, burns & falls are particular hazards. Unfenced pools & waterways are a common danger. Keep children away from animals, especially dogs & monkeys. Read the section on rabies.
MEDICAL KIT & VACCINATION
Children have special needs & The Travel Doctor offers individual advice to parents regarding these.
All families should travel with paracetamol, which is the simple medication to treat fever or pain in children of any age.