Travel with children

16.1  Introduction

Children differ from older travellers in their vaccine requirements, and in the medical problems they encounter. An ill child may compromise travel. Careful planning of all journeys is necessary to be prepared for likely emergencies.

16.2  Motion sickness

This is unusual in children under two years but frequent in 3-12 year olds. Being able to see the horizon and other external views helps to reduce the problem. Promethazine (Phenergan) can be used to reduce travel-associated nausea.

16.3  Respiratory tract infections

Throat and ear infections, especially sepsis in the middle ear, can prevent equilibration of pressure in the middle ear making children particularly susceptible to severe pain and discomfort when changing altitude. Flying may sometimes have to be delayed.

16.4  Diarrhoea

Acute diarrhoea in infants and young children creates a number of problems for travelling parents. Availability of clean nappies and the disposal of soiled material can be a logistic nightmare. Oral rehydration therapy is the most important therapy for a sick child and should always be carried. If the child is febrile, medical assistance should be sought.

16.5  Diet

Baby foods are often unavailable, or very expensive, in tropical countries and cows' milk may not be available. Only commercially bottled milk with a clear expiry date should be used. Dairy products are a common cause of diarrhoea in hot climates.

16.6  Skin problems

Nappy rash, prickly heat and sunburn occur frequently in hot, humid climates. Young children should be kept well-protected from the sun at all times, and given plenty of fluids. Soothing skin creams are a necessary requisite. Infection from a number of soil parasites through bare feet is a significant risk; children should be encouraged to wear shoes.

16.7  Medications

Enough medication for the whole journey should be provided for a child with an underlying medical problem. It is also wise to pack children's analgesics, oral replacement salts (see 5.3) and skin creams as these may not be readily available.