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The Special Traveller: Kids

Some would argue that if a child is too young to remember a trip years down the road, then leave her at home. But if you are reading this chapter, you probably don’t agree! Traveling with children presents its challenges, but with a bit of extra planning and patience, it can be the best experience.

Why are they different?

  • They are usually smaller than their parents.
  • They may not understand all of the rules like “don’t eat that”, “stay away from the electrical outlet” and “leave the dog alone”.
  • Their endurance, desires and culinary preferences will be different than yours.
  • In the case of VFRs (see Chapter    ), they are often high risk travelers.
  • They may be too young for certain vaccinations.
  • They tend to get sick more often, more quickly and sicker than adults.

How can you minimize the risks and your stress?!

  • Plan ahead. What supplies will I need? Do I need to take a car seat? Diapers? Baby foods?
  • Take along plenty of things to keep the kids happy ...books, dolls, games, batteries ...
  • Ensure that his or her identification papers are in order. If you are traveling as a single parent, a legal document signed by the non-traveling parent should be obtained.
  • If you will be traveling far from good medical care, learn how to recognize and treat common medical conditions that may arise in your children, and carry adequate medications and supplies.
  • Consider MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children between 6-12 months of age if you will be taking the baby to a lesser-developed country.
  • If you will be spending a longer time in Africa, India or Southeast Asia, consider pre-exposure vaccination against rabies for your children. Teach them to stay away from dogs!
  • Try the Emla® patch to minimize the pain of the injections. Keep your teenage kids well fed and not too warmly dressed before their shots!
  • Keep your kids from getting insect bites.
  • With respect to antimalarials, mefloquine (Lariam®) is usually well tolerated in kids as long as it is taken with lots of food and water. Malarone® may cause mouth ulcers, especially in children with braces! Doxycycline is probably best reserved for adults.
  • Kids get sicker with Traveller’s Diarrhea. The choice of antibiotic for more serious diarrhea in those 16 and under is Zithromax® (azythromycin). See Chapter      .
  • Kids are more prone to motion sickness. See Chapter     .
  • They may also get altitude sickness, though they may be less likely to complain about it.
  • Make sure the environment where you are living is safe. Take a night light for small children, and outlet covers to use in hotel rooms. And don’t forget the sunscreen!
Content (c) Mark Wise
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