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Squeezing in One Last Summer Trip? Follow These 10 Important Travel Tips

August 08, 2018

Summer isn’t over yet. For those of you who are squeezing in one last trip before the kids are back to school, here are 10 tips for safe and healthy travel, presented by Julia Piwoz, M.D., of the TravelKids Pediatric Travel Medicine Clinic and chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. Whether you’re gearing up for vacation, staycation or a summer camp, it’s important to have a game plan to stay healthy.

Tip #1: Do your homework. Learn about where you are going.

When it’s summer in New Jersey, it’s winter in Cape Town. Double check if there are any entry and vaccination requirements or medicines you should have on-hand. Research if the plugs and outlets are the same as they are in the US, or if you need to pack a converter. Also make sure to check out the currency used and if you can utilize your current credit cards.

Tip #2: It’s way better to prevent disease than to treat it.

See your health care provider 4-6 weeks before you travel – this is especially important for summer camps and international travel. Update your prescriptions, heart medicines, allergy/asthma plans, EpiPen, etc. Your trip may require you to get in better shape, or you may need special preparations including medication and shots that your health care provider doesn’t offer.

Tip # 3: Get protected.

Mumps and whooping cough in the summer camps, measles in Europe, typhoid in India- none of these are good “summer adventures”! Make sure vaccinations are up to date for you and your children. Vaccines for Typhoid, Yellow Fever and Japanese Encephalitis are often only available at a travel medicine clinic. In fact, the Yellow Fever vaccine is currently only available at a limited number of centers (including Travel Kids) so it’s more important than ever to plan ahead!

Tip #4: Pack Smart.

Make sure to pack common items that you don’t want to have to hunt for when you are away, including:

Hygiene items

Band-Aids

Creams – antibiotic and something for itching

Over the counter medications for fever and pain, especially if traveling with small children

Sunscreen and insect repellant as separate products, preferably not heavily scented

Keep prescription medications in a carry-on bag in the original labeled container.

Tip #5: Your skin is your biggest organ – treat it right.

Your skin keeps the outside world out and the inside world in. Breaks in skin can lead to infection, rashes and scarring so tend to cuts and scrapes quickly and make sure wraps or bandages are applied.

Using sunscreen is key and you should especially follow these application tips:

Use a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) SPF 30+ sunscreen

Use age appropriate products and apply often

Make sure they are water-resistant

Check expiration dates – sunscreen has a shelf life of up to three years

Cover up as much as possible – you can purchase clothing with special sun protection

Wear a hat when you can

Tip #6: Bug Off.

Protecting against bug bites is just as important as protecting against sun. Again, wear protective clothing, including ones treated with permethrin/deltamethrin that can help keep bugs away. Use insect repellent. DEET is safe for little ones ages two months and older, just make sure to follow application instructions for kids. You can also use picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, paramethane-diol and 2 undecanone to protect against bug bites. Keep these tips in mind:

Apply insect repellent after you apply your sunscreen.

Check for ticks daily. Disease can be prevented with prompt removal of a tick with a sharp pair of tweezers.

Window screens and nets are helpful if they aren’t full of holes.

Tip #7: Watch what you eat.

Even if you are traveling to a 5-star hotel abroad, stick with bottled or treated water (that includes for brushing teeth). Avoid drinks and frozen snacks with ice. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables, unless you can clean them or peel them (bananas, oranges, etc.).

Tip #8: Stay well hydrated.

Whether it’s on the beach, at a park, hiking or on a safari, make sure to keep up with your water intake, especially if you have diarrhea. Consider bringing an oral rehydration solution or packets for young children if you are going to a place where diarrhea is common. If your stomach is off - remedies like ginger gum can help with nausea and motion sickness.

Tip #9: Amusement parks are NOT always amusing.

Anyone that was involved in the measles outbreak at Disneyland is aware that amusement parks aren’t always amusing. Make sure to keep your hands clean and be mindful of what you eat and touch. Water parks, pools and hot tubs have been associated with recreational water illnesses. Go early when it’s not crowded and when chlorine levels are high. Chlorine kills many, but not all germs. If you have a weakened immune system, it’s best to stay home.

Tip #10: Don’t forget pet safety.

It’s fun to bring your pet along, but remember these important guidelines:

Pets need safety gear, too, including a harness for the car and a life vest for water sports.

Bring water for pets and a bowl so they can drink it.

Don’t leave pets alone in a hot car.

Don’t let your pet eat “just anything.” Be careful when serving them new foods.

Protect your pets against insects. This is important not only for their health, but yours as well. Pets can bring live ticks into your home and on your clothing.

With only a few short months of summer, there’s no reason you and your family shouldn’t make the most of it. It’s just critical that you consider these important safety tips so you stay healthy, happy and prepared to enjoy time together – no matter where you are!

Planning an international trip? Learn more about the TravelKids program at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center.

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