Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kids and Travel: A Recipe for Disaster?

Loyola University Health System Pediatrician Shares Travel Tips for Families

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Family vacations can be legendary. Sometimes it’s for the lasting memories of family bonding and new wonders experienced together, and sometimes for the horrors of just trying to get to a destination. “Having three kids I know how stressful it can be traveling with children, especially young children. Listening to ‘Are we there yet?’ Trying to maneuver through security, or just trying to cure boredom from being crammed in a car or airplane can challenge anyone’s patience,” said Hannah Chow, MD, Loyola University Health System pediatrician and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Here are some tips to make family vacations less hazardous for kids and parents.

First aid kit: You never know what a vacation may bring, so be prepared. Here are some things to pack in a family first-aid kit: Basic medications for pain, fever reducers and the sniffles.

A healthy stash of adhesive bandages and tissue.

Dimenhydrinate drugs work well for children with motion sickness who are 10 years and older. Talk to your pediatrician about drugs for younger ages. Itch erasers for mosquito stings can be found in most pharmacies, just be aware of the immediate sting after initially applying the medication.

Hydrocortisone for application to itchy rashes. Sunscreen. It even comes in small 3-ounce containers to adhere to FAA regulations. Don't forget bug spray with less than 10 percent DEET if you are going to a wooded area. Also a powdered electrolyte solution that can be reconstituted into a pedialyte solution. This is invaluable if your children come down with stomach flu on a trip. Prescription medications. “Please don't ask your pediatrician to call in a new antibiotic prescription while you are on vacation. This affects our ability to provide accurate medical care for your child. If you have prescription medications, make sure you have enough for your trip. I've had to explain to parents I am not licensed (there) and cannot call in a prescription in Mexico,” Chow said.

International Travel When traveling internationally, consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel vaccination Web site. It gives detailed information on what additional vaccines are needed for certain countries and basic out-of-country travel tips. Destinations like western Europe, Canada and the Caribbean typically do not require additional vaccinations, but it's a good idea to look at the CDC site to confirm. Consult a traveler’s clinic before leaving for your trip. “Travel vaccines are typically out-of-pocket expenses but worth the money. The hepatitis A vaccine is routinely given to children and I recommend it for adults who travel as well. It protects against a virus transmissible through contaminated food and water,” Chow said. When overseas: Do not drink tap water. Be wary of ice. Do not eat uncooked street food. Bring tissues (just in case the bathrooms run out of paper). “My sister's friends learned the hard way not to eat Peruvian guinea pig prior to a plane flight. Make sure everything is well-cooked and bring a small bottle of antibacterial soap just in case,” Chow said. Keeping kids fed: One of the toughest parts of traveling is finding healthy food options. Snacks for the car: Pack a cooler or a hamper full of nutritious snacks such as fruit, cut-up vegetables, drinks, crackers, sandwiches and fruit snacks. This will be a nice antidote to fast food or gas station snacks. Snacks for the plane: Here you are much more limited on space, so bring a few snacks that are worthwhile. Bring along cereal and granola bars, fruit snacks and roll ups, oranges and trail mix. Also pack individual drink mixes to add to water. You never know when you’ll be stuck on a tarmac with no access to snacks with a “starving” child. To help cure boredom on long flights or car rides, Dr. Chow suggests variety. Go to a local dollar store and purchase inexpensive games, books and toys that your kids have never seen. “Bring books, movies, games, toys, and don’t forget extra batteries and chargers or when the power fades you’ll have some very upset kids. It’s always a good idea to pack extra headsets as well because these are easily broken or lost,” Chow said. “My husband always says whoever invented the car DVD player deserves the Noble Peace Prize.” For media inquiries, please contact Evie Polsley at or call (708) 216-5313 or (708) 417-5100.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.