Traveling out of town for the holidays? Keep kids healthy while you’re gone

Last January, Adrian Tadeo, 7, grimaces a little as he receives a Flu shot from LVN Tanya Roland, left, during a visit to St. John's Clinic Shots for Tots / Big Shots. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Adrian Tadeo, 7, grimaces a little as he receives a Flu shot from nurse Tanya Roland, left. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

It’s no fun to be sick far away from home. On the 2003 Cross-Country Great-Grandmother Tour, Benjamin Villalpando started the first leg of the trip to California throwing up on the plane. That continued all through California. Then when we flew from San Francisco to West Palm Beach, Fla., the diarrhea set in. By the time we flew back to Austin, he was fine, of course. I was a wreck and felt like I could never get the smell out of all of my clothes.

That really clued me in that I needed to always have a change of clothes for the kid and a change of clothes for myself as well on any airplane flight. It also made me very well-versed in finding the 24-hour pharmacy in any town as well as calling the nurse helpline. This was, or course, before the days of the urgent care centers on every block.

Dr. Brad Berg is the medical director of pediatrics for Scott & White Healthcare-Round Rock. Credit: Scott &White
Dr. Brad Berg is the medical director of pediatrics for Scott & White Healthcare-Round Rock.
Credit: Scott &White

Baylor Scott & White’s Dr. Bradley Berg offers these suggestions for traveling with children. They are even tips he uses himself:

1. It’s never too late to get your flu shot. Get it if you haven’t! Flu cases are on the rise! (And remember, if your kid was a FluMist kid, this year, you have to get the shot because it turns out the Flu Mist didn’t work. And you might need two shots the first year.) 

2. Medications to bring during vacation trips:

  • Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen for fever and pain.
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and Meclizine (Dramamine) for nasal drainage and travel sickness.
  • Ondansetron (Zofran) for nausea or vomiting. Dr. Berg always tries to convince or ask his pediatrician nicely for this prescription during a well-check or sick visits during the year. That way he always has it on hand.

We also like to have a small first aid kit with us at all times: Something to stop the blood, something to clean a cut, something to wrap an ankle.

3. Get a list of the pediatric urgent care clinic and hours at the locations you’re traveling to, in case things happen and you need to take your children there.

For example, if your children have high fevers, multiple episodes of vomiting or diarrhea, Baylor Scott & White pediatricians advise having them evaluated within 24-48 hours. And if they test positive for flu, then it’s within the 48 hour time frame to have Tamiflu prescribed.

Also don’t forget to have your insurance card and a list of regular medications your child takes as well as food or drug allergies. That information are some of the first things the triage department will ask you for.

4. Always supervise your children to minimize risk for injuries and children being lost. Older children should be taught to memorize their parents’ phone numbers and home addresses. (We were also known to write down our cellphone numbers on their arm in permanent marker whenever we were going to a crowded place. We also drilled in to find another mom with children or an employee in a uniform if they got lost.)

This is also a time where kids are getting new toys. Be aware that the most dangerous toy — the one that sends the most kids to the emergency room — is probably not one you would think about. Nor are a lot of the toy dangers. Read this story on what to watch for in toys.

5. Use sunscreen, even though we’re in winter. Moisturize skin daily and use lip moisturizers, too. Ask me about the time my whole Girl Scout troop had wind burn. I think I can still hear the whining two years later.

What else do you bring with you when you travel?

Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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