Stay Safe and Healthy

Extra socks. Camera batteries. A travel adaptor plug. Immunizations. Medication for travelers’ diarrhea. Wait. ... those last two items weren’t on your trip planning to-do list? They should be, if you plan to travel overseas with your kids – particularly if you are traveling to less developed areas.

In the excitement of planning a trip, many people don’t think about what’s important to make it safer and healthier, says Mary Allen Staat, MD, MPH, director of the International Travel Clinic at Cincinnati Children's. The clinic specializes in preparing adults and children for international travel.

“One of the most important things is to learn about where you will be visiting,” Staat says, “and know the associated risks. By preparing, there are lots of things you can do to minimize those risks.”

The Travel Clinic is familiar with most of the risks, and how to prepare for them.

Travel Preparations and Precautions

Be Careful with Food and Water

Avoid tap water, even for brushing teeth; steer clear of ice cubes. Use common sense in food choices: avoid raw fish, undercooked meats and food from street vendors. Use bottled water and juice.

Despite the best efforts, travelers’ diarrhea is a common travel affliction. The Travel Clinic prescribes medication to take along in case. But seek care from a medical facility if you have bloody diarrhea or high fever.

Car Seats and Traffic

If traveling with young children, take a car seat along. Be especially alert to unusual driving and traffic patterns when crossing streets.

Get Your Immunizations Up to Date

Do this well in advance of your trip – at least a month or more, since some shots must be taken in a series. Some vaccinations can be accelerated for a trip, says Staat, depending on age. And there are some immunizations needed just for travel.

Don't Get Bugged

Insect-borne diseases are a major risk in many regions. Use bed netting if there are no screens on windows or doors to avoid illnesses carried by insects. Be aware of ticks if hiking is in your travel plans.

Also beware of animals, no matter how cute they might be. Dog and monkey bites can cause rabies or infection.

Medical Guidance

Make an appointment with your doctor or the Travel Clinic in advance of your trip. A little preparation goes a long way toward creating the trip of a lifetime.