Keeping the entire family healthy while on vacation needs to be a priorty. Family vacations are suppose to be fun. Nobody wants to think about all the "what if's". but often an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. This is especially true when you're far from home. A minor illness can put the kibosh on fun and spread like wildfire with folks sharing close quarters.
1. Visit Your Family Doctor(s) - Definitely a first step when it comes to family vacation planning. Your doctor(s) knows your family medical history. Let your doctor know your vacation destination so they know if there is a potential for any major health issues that effect your family. If anyone in your has any chronic health issues like asthma, allergies or ear infections make sure you have enough medication or prescriptions that you may need with you.
2. Pack A Travel Health Kit - Murphy's law says if you have all this gear with you, it won't be needed. For your family's comfort, it's great to have this on hand. Far from home purchasing medical supplies can be inconvenient and costly. A good travel health kit should include: Anti bacterial hand cleanser, Pain medication, hydrocortisone cream, first aid cream, pepto bismol, anti diarrhea medication, gauze and band aides. Other suggested gear - safety pins, tweezers, tiny scissors and duct tape (great for holding gauze wraps and good to have along for 101 other reasons).
3. Frequent Handwashing - and not sharing items such as cups, glasses, and utensils while vacationing can certainly help prevent a variety of illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi. Keep a supply of hand sanitizer along and USE it frequently. Hand washing only helps if you go it properly. Soap up the fronts & backs of both hands for the amount of time it takes to sing the song "Happy Birthday".
4. Be Familiar And Stay Informed - New, strange locales often come with unusual situations, flora and fauna. That pretty fish or beautiful flower might just be poisonous. The secluded beach that you discovered may not have many swimmers because of dangerous rip tides. Before heading out for new adventures speak to hotel staff or make friends with some of the locals. Ask them not only for their recommendations but find out if there are any potential dangers.
5. Stay Hydrated - When you're busy having fun it's easy to forget to drink extra water. Sun, heat, wind, air planes, higher elevations and exercise can quickly cause dehydration. Kids are even more prone to dehydration. When in a new vacation environment, make sure the water you're drinking is safe. To avoid stomach problems drink properly filtered water, bottled water or water that has been boiled for at least 5 minutes then cooled.
6. Be Smart In The Sun - Children are also prone to sunburns. Dress appropriately including a hat and proper sunglasses. Apply strong sunblock in the morning before leaving your hotel and re-apply frequently through out the day. Remember to also apply lip balm containing sun block to prevent mouth blisters.
7. Take It Easy On Junk Food - Vacation is the time to splurge and go a little over board. Just don't go too overboard. Be sure to balance the sweets with a healthy diet of meat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
8. Get Adequate Rest - If you're planning an active adventure vacation, theme park visit or tons of sightseeing be sure to balance your activities with adequate rest. If you have a busy itinerary, build in some nap time or activities that will be a bit less stressful.
9. Keep Moving - If you're taking a long car or plane ride, make sure all passengers get up an stretch frequently. This will help your sanity, your back and help prevent blood clots in the legs. If you end up in the middle seat of a plane and don't want to disturb other passengers you can still exercise and stay healthy. At least do isometric exercises where you squeeze muscles to tighten them and then relax. Start with your face & shoulders and work your way down your entire body. Make a game out of it and let the kids join in.
10. Don't Be Stupid - Vacations are suppose to be a time to have fun and cut loose....but use your head. Plan your activities according to your physical abilities and the ages of your kids. If you are sedentary and out of shape, repelling into a cave in the middle of the hot jungle may not be the best choice for staying healthy. If there are childrens size or age restrictions for a specific activity or attraction it is in place for their safety and should be respected.