We provide practical tips and useful medical and health information to help you remain proactively healthy.  Dr. Allison Foster shares her tips for healthy and happy summer travel with the family.  As always, ask your personal doctors if these suggestions are right for you and your family.

Master Your Health!

Summer Travel with Kids: What Not to Leave at Home

Written By Allison Foster, MD

Summer is right around the corner and that means you and your family will likely be spending some time away on vacation.  Whether it’s a family weekend camping trip, a road-trip to the Grand Canyon, or many relaxing and fun-filled days at the beach or park, here is a list of the top 7 things you won’t want to leave home without during your summer travel.

1) Insect Repellant:  Insect repellant containing DEET provides the best protection against ticks which can transmit Lyme Disease, and mosquitoes which can transmit West Nile Virus.  DEET should not be used on babies under 2months of age.  Children over 2 months of age should use 30% DEET.  The concentration of DEET varies depending on the brand.  Too much DEET can be a bad thing, and too little DEET can result in inadequate protection.  Make sure to read

those labels!

2) Sunscreen:  Babies under 6 months of age should be dressed in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn.  Keep these little ones in shaded areas.  If shade and adequate clothing aren’t available, parents may apply a small amount of SPF 15 sunscreen to limited areas such as the face and backs of hands.

Babies over 6 months of age and toddlers should have sunscreen applied at least 30 minutes prior to going outside, even on cloudy days.  Stay in shade when possible.  Make sure the SPF is at least 15 and protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

Older children and teens should cover up!  Wear a 3-inch brimmed hat or one with a bill that faces forward.  Stay in the shade whenever possible and limit sun exposure during peak times, 10am-4pm.  Use a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15.  Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating.

3) Basic First-Aid Kit: With all of the fun outdoor activities to choose from during the summer, kids are bound to get a few nicks and scrapes along the way.  Make sure to have plenty of band-aids, some gauze and paper tape, a tube of first-aid ointment, and antiseptic wipes in your travel first-aid kit.

4) Emergency Numbers:Thankfully, 911 is an easy number to remember, even in an emergency.  Your pediatrician’s phone number may not be as easy to recall.  Make sure to carry your Pediatrician’s office number in case of urgent questions that may arise due to unexpected illness while away.  If your child’s friends are traveling with your family, make sure to have their emergency contact numbers as well.  It’s also not a bad idea to know where the closest emergency room is located with respect to your vacation destination.

5) Hand Sanitizer: With all of the sticks, stones, and germy objects that will be touched when outdoors, it’s good to have a bottle of hand sanitizer around when it’s lunch or snack-time.

6) Yummy Eats: Make sure to pack plenty of healthy, energizing snacks for the car trip and snack breaks at the beach. Cheese and crackers, nuts, baby carrots and fresh fruit are nutritious energy snacks. A supply of bottled water is a must-have for the cooler and for lunch don’t forget hand-packed sandwiches, fresh fruit such as apple and orange slices and veggie sticks.

7) Boredom-Proof Activities: How many of us have heard the phrases, “Are we there yet” or “I’m bored” one hour into an eight hour road-trip with your children?  To avoid this scenario, make sure to pack a selection of coloring and activity books, crayons and pencils, travel board games, books, a deck of cards, and a few of your kids favorite dolls or action figures.  It’s OK to bring the handheld video games as well, but remember that even during vacations, children should be limited to no more than 2 hours of total screen time daily.

Dr. Allison Foster is a board-certified pediatrician with offices in the south suburbs of Chicago including Harvey, Calumet City, and Flossmoor.  She accepts all forms of insurance and is accepting new patients.  Call 708-333-3030 to schedule an appointment.