Dec 9, 2016, 12:00:00 AM CST Nov 15, 2019, 11:33:27 AM CST

What to pack for a healthy family vacation

Wondering what to pack for family vacation? Don’t forget the essentials to keep children healthy.

Family loading a car getting ready to go on a trip Family loading a car getting ready to go on a trip

Whether you're taking a day trip to a nearby town or traveling across the country, you'll need essential supplies to keep your children happy and healthy along the way.

One thing every parent should have close-at-hand is your pediatrician's phone number. Maybe you already have your child's doctor saved as a favorite contact in your phone. If you don't, be sure to write his or her number down before you leave home. Even the most experienced mom or dad sometimes faces an illness or injury that warrants professional advice.

Vacation packing checklist: Health essentials

When it comes to packing for vacation, in addition to snacks, toys and weather-appropriate clothes, be sure to pack a travel health kit with the following kid-appropriate medicines and first aid items.

Medicines to pack for vacation

  • Children or infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen
    These fever and pain-relievers can help with a headache or aches from a cold.
  • Antihistamines (topical or oral)
    Topical creams, as recommended by your doctor, can help soothe the itch that comes with bug bites, hives or mild allergic reactions. Children's doses or oral antihistamines can help if seasonal allergies act up.
  • Children's upset stomach relievers
    Antacid, anti-gas and anti-nausea formulas for kids can bring some relief for little ones suffering from a stomach virus or motion sickness when traveling.
  • Children's cough and cold medicine
    Bring children's cold and flu medicine to reduce any coughing and sniffles that could make your kid miserable.

First aid items to pack for vacation

  • Infant or child thermometers
    If your little one has the chills, it might be the seasonal breeze, or it may be a fever. Find out for sure by carrying one of these with you.
  • Adhesive bandages and antiseptic ointment
    Most hotels or your friends and relatives probably have these on hand, but if only a favorite superhero or princess bandage will soothe your child's cuts or scrapes, make sure you pack them. Antiseptic ointments can also stop little cuts from turning into big infections.
  • Cotton balls and swabs
    For cleaning up cuts and scrapes, these are a must-have for family travel.
  • Tweezers and a needle
    Splinters can spoil any child's fun, so be ready with these to quickly dislodge any painful invaders.
  • Diaper rash ointment
    You've packed the diapers, so make sure this comes along in your diaper bag, too.
  • Blister pads
    Those new shoes were irresistibly cute, but now your child is complaining that their heels hurt. Come to the rescue with blister pads.

Helpful items to pack for vacation

  • Tissues
    It's a good idea to bring plenty of these on the road (or in the air, if traveling by plane). From viruses to allergies to the sniffles, having tissues will come in handy.
  • Nasal aspirator for baby
    Sure, it's not the most pleasant thing you'll do on your trip, but babies can't blow their noses.
  • Antibacterial gel
    You've taught your child to wash his or her hands after going to the bathroom or playing outside and before meals, but that's not always possible if a sticky situation arises on the road. For waterless hand-washing that kills just as many germs, keep antibacterial gel easily accessible.
  • Sunscreen
    If you're going to be outside, keep your child's skin safe from harmful rays. Sunburns can happen even when it's cloudy and cold. It might be wise to pack some aloe or sun-soothing cream in case you miss a spot.
  • Teething aids (rings, numbing gel, etc.)
    Pack these to soothe your baby's sore gums.

Since many over-the-counter medications can be fatal to children in large doses, keep medicine out of harm's way and out of reach of curious explorers.

Lastly, if you're traveling with young children, don't forget to pack the car seat. See tips for traveling with a car seat whether on a road trip or traveling by air.

Get care now

Getting sick is never convenient – especially when you’re traveling. But now you can videoconference with a health care provider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with Virtual Visit by Children's Health Virtual Care. Get treated right from your smartphone, tablet or computer for allergies, common colds, cuts and more. Download the Virtual Visit app today.

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