Keeping little ones Healthy and Safe during Travels
This is probably a huge reason why parents are afraid to travel with their children. Staying well and healthy whilst they are away and not getting sick. Especially with the younger children and babies, its all about enjoying the trip and not having to worry about getting poorly whilst you are trying to enjoy your time away. Whilst I am a nurse and I have given travel health advice in a previous role, it is always important to see your own GP or Practice Nurse about travel health requirements when staying healthy and well, whilst travelling especially with children. This is just a small feature on the steps to take to get the correct advice for preparing to travel and whilst you are away.
The first step I would take when planning to go away is preparation, which is vital. I certainly would not suggest dropping into your GP surgery a week before saying, "I'm off to Zanzibar next week, what do i need"!? This s not enough time due to the proper consultations required especially when vaccinations are recommended and complex itineraries. As soon as you book your travel, I would advise to see your Practice Nurse or GP sooner rather than later so IF vaccinations are needed, than they have the time to be effective beforehand and also have them in stock. A really good website to check out is the NHS Fit For Travel site that gives you heaps of advice from recommended vaccinations to bite prevalence and it pretty much has every country in the world covered. Take a little glance as you may have a country in mind so it can give you some really good advice beforehand.
Common sense is important to be honest.
Basic hygiene such as hand-washing regularly especially with children and the use of hand gels to cleanse the skin to avoid bacteria spreading. We all know what young children are like from picking up dirty objects off of the ground to putting things in their mouths. It's just being extra vigilant with things like this when travelling, just like if you were here but a little more frequent as some countries sanitation is a little less than what we have here in the UK.
Food and water.
This is definitely something to be more aware of, especially when traveling to more developing countries. With the UK and western countries being far more hygiene conscious, we are very clean compared to some other developing countries that just don't have the means and access to such luxury. I consumed street food all over south east Asia when backpacking and was absolutely fine. However I ate a shellfish spring roll in a what seemed a clean restaurant and the next day, I was checking into a Vietnamese hospital with an extremely nasty bout of food poisoning. Nasty, really nasty. I would additionally advise against consuming any water from a tap. This comes as standard to some people, but because we can drink clean water here, it can be a common mistake leading to ill health with microorganisms that we cannot physically see. I would advise to visit this section of the NHS Fit for Travel website, specifically about hand hygiene and food and water whilst travelling. You certainly do not want to end up like me as pictured below!
Depending on which country you travel to, there may be particular harmful mosquito spread disease such as Malaria and Dengue. There will be guidance given to you in great detail with your Travel Health Nurse or GP about this, looking at the particular country and if antimalarial tablets are required. Personally, traveling with a young child, I have avoided malaria risk areas but again its all personal choice! One thing that we do encounter is mosquitoes that just like to bite for the sheer fun of it! We have all been there i am sure, you discover a bite, have a scratch than thats it! You cannot stop touching it and it gets more and more itchy even though you know that you shouldn't scratch it! So the best form of advice I would to give is Bite prevalence to try to avoid any bites at all, especially with kids. Tips that the NHS recommend to avoid getting bitten is to:
1) Use a good quality insect repellent. This should contain DEET in the ingredients and according to the NHS, it CAN be used for younger travellers over the age of 2 months. Follow the manufacturers guidance in applying the product correctly and the most efficiently to help prevent getting bitten.
2) Clothing. Wear loose clothing to cover arms/legs if possible. Obviously if it very hot this is going to prove tricky, but I found that those loose fisherman's pants on kids are ideal to cover their legs to protect them from bites.
3) Mosquito nets. From experience, many hotels that I have stayed at have provided mosquito nest over the beds and some have even gone out of their way to providing Ruby with one over her cot when she was a baby! See our picture below whilst in Thailand. If you are particularly keen, you can buy the from most places such as amazon, and come with a kit to put them up where needed. Really useful.
So overall a little bit of research beforehand, as you will be surprised! Some countries that appear great value and a little more exotic such as the Gambia, require a multitude of vaccinations and precautions beforehand so I would definitely do a little homework. Secondly, follow professional advice. Book in to see you GP or Practice Nurse to get the most up to date and correct health advice for travelling. Lastly, don't let it stop you! This is why travel health nurses and vaccination clinic exist! Because this shouldn't stop you exploring a country if you can be educated and prepared for safe and happy travels beforehand!