Keep your kewpie safe on the road, or up in the air, with these top medical tips.

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Holiday season is finally here – time to bundle up the brood and set off on an adventure! Vacations are a great way to bond together as a family without the usual day-to-day distractions. But before you start packing, make sure you’re fully prepared to tackle whatever obstacles may come your way during your travels.

Being on the road with little ones can be fun, but still challenging, especially if one of them falls sick or is unable to handle the time difference. According to Dr Raymond Choy, a general practitioner at Raffles Medical, some of the most common illnesses young jetsetters may succumb to are the flu, a cold and traveller’s diarrhoea – a type of stomach flu accompanied by stomach cramps, nausea, fever, and bloating.

If this is your first time venturing overseas as a family, listen up as Dr Choy dishes out simple strategies on how to keep everyone safe and healthy to ensure the trip is enjoyable and memorable for all the right reasons.

Dr Choy, what are some useful healthcare reminders for parents who are travelling with young kids?

*Ensure the kids are up-to-date with their vaccinations.
*Mentally prep them for the trip ahead of time by talking to them about it.
*Make sure they are physically well prior the trip.
*Bring along their medical records, necessary medication and a general first-aid kit. The kit should include some wound cleaning solution, bandages, dressing and plasters, plus meds for cold, flu, allergy, asthma, vomiting, diarrhoea and gastric issues for both adults and kids.
*Always buy travel insurance, especially overseas healthcare insurance.
*Plan your trip wisely and try to avoid a long haul flight when possible. A few transits along the way are recommended.
*Keep everyone well hydrated during the trip.
*Rest well once you land and do not be too eager to hit the attractions immediately. Kids need time to recuperate and adjust to the new environment.

How important is it to get vaccinated before a trip?

It is highly recommended to get vaccinated before going overseas, depending on the destination. Young children should have their routine vaccinations updated as per the national immunisation guideline. If you’re travelling to sub-Sharan countries you will be required to get a yellow fever vaccination. If you’re headed to the Middle East you’ll need to get the meningococcal vaccination. Flu vaccination is also recommended especially when travelling to crowded places.

All vaccinations come with side effects which might affect some. Examples of side effects include pain, bruises, bleeding infections, flu-like symptoms, fever, nausea and allergic reactions. Visit your doctor four weeks prior to departure to make sure everyone is on top of their vaccinations and has time to recover if necessary.

Visit your doctor four weeks prior to departure to make sure everyone is on top of their vaccination and has time to recover if necessary.

Any countries parents should avoid travelling with their little ones?

In general, no. However, it’s recommended to avoid countries that have had pandemic outbreaks, such as the Ebola virus, in the past. It’s always good to check with your doctor first before planning a trip anywhere.

Three more tyke-friendly travelling tips coming right up!

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What should parents do if their kids fall ill in a foreign country?

Bring along your child’s medical booklet and immunisation record when travelling. If they fall sick, try over-the-counter meds first, provided the sickness is mild and doesn’t look life-threatening. Otherwise, bring them to see the local doctor or visit the local hospital if necessary.

What about kids who have motion sickness?

Always start with short journeys and let them adjust to the motion of the car, boat or plane, whatever the mode of travelling. You can also ask your doctor to prescribe some anti-sickness medication to bring along.

Some studies have shown that attempting to advance or delay your body clock gradually before you travel can make the adjustment faster and easier on your body, reducing the effects of jet lag.

How can parents help children cope with jet lag and the new environment?

Most travellers try to make the most of their limited time overseas, yet fail to take into account the leap in time zones they make in a matter of hours. It can take your body's internal clock several days to catch up to that leap.

Some studies have shown that attempting to advance or delay your body clock gradually before you travel can make the adjustment faster and easier on your body, reducing the effects of jet lag.

Also, if your trip is short and you’re not traveling over several time zones, it could be better not to adjust at all by staying on the same schedule rather than trying to adjust to local time if you’re not there for long. If you’re there for three days or less, you barely have enough time to adjust, so it may not be worth the effort. Besides that, keep the kids well hydrated and encourage them to keep active wherever they are. Naps can be taken, but keep them on local time.

Photos: iStock

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