If I give off the vibe that we just willy-nilly fly off to far reaches of the world with our infant without a care, my vibes are being distorted. It's nerve-racking doing anything with Zay, from climbing on things in the playground to traveling to countries with different diseases, different bacteria, and different risks. But being a helicopter parent and shielding Zay from all risk is not how I want him growing up.
Reaching a balance between keeping your child safe but still giving them rich experiences and the ability to make their own mistakes is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things to achieve as a parent. So, in an effort to reach that balance, we travel, but we do it safely and take all precautions to mitigate risk.
HOW DO WE PREPARE FOR A TRIP?
Well, that's the 4 Ps: Pack, Plan, Protect, and, of course, Purel.
If your child falls sick while traveling, many times, you can treat it yourself. We always pack the following items to ensure that we can take care of minor issues:
A NoseFrida or some sort of sucking device
Bandaids, bacitracin and medical tape
Children's Acetaminophen and syringe
Bug spray (with picaridin (also known as icaridin or KBR 3023 outside the US)
Water sanitation pills (like iodine pills)
Any prescription medications
An Epipen Jr. is something you should consider taking. Though expensive, it's a lifesaving drug for unknown allergies your child may have)
I would also suggest you visit the CDC travel site before either choosing your destination or before leaving for your trip. You can check off "Traveling with Children", then the destination you're going to, and they will give you health information for that area, and also specifically address health and vaccine information for children. And, of course, I recommend you talk to your pediatrician to hear their advice (and take that advice over mine as I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV).
While we're referencing the CDC, I recommend all parents to read through the CDC's overview on Traveling Safely with Infants and Children.
Check out our packing page which includes a downloadable packing list for medicine, clothes, and all your packing needs.
When traveling through a country, I always look where the closest healthcare facility is. If it's a clinic that treats only minor illnesses and injuries, I find the nearest hospital. If the hospital does not have a pediatric unit, I search for the closest hospital with a pediatric unit. This way, if anything goes wrong, we have a game plan of where we will go depending on the severity of the issue.
For example, while preparing for our desert trek from Merzouga, Morocco, I researched and found that there was a basic clinic in Merzouga, a hospital an hour and a half drive away in Erfoud and a hospital with a pediatrician 3 hours away in Errachidia. This gave me comfort knowing where we would go in case of an emergency.
I would never recommend how far you travel away from a hospital with a child. That is most definitely a personal choice. Go with whatever you're comfortable with. After all, it's a vacation! It's all about fun, not stress.
We always get health insurance when we travel out of country. It's a small financial investment, and if anything goes wrong, you are covered - even down to getting airlifted out of places without having a proper medical facility. There are many out there, but we always use World Nomads.
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I am not a mom that keeps a bottle of Purel on me at all times when we're not traveling. I think it's important for children to get exposed to germs and bacteria to build up their immunities. However, when we are traveling in other countries, he is already being naturally exposed to new bacteria—especially at the age when they are crawling and/or putting their hands in their mouth constantly. After Zay would crawl around and get dirty, I would always rinse his hands with water then clean them with Purel before he got the chance to stick his hands in his mouth.
I might make it sound easy, but it's it's a hover then pounce kinda dance.