How to have a safe and fun trip this summer!
05-21-2012 (Dayton, OH) -
Planning your summer vacation? Wondering how you’ll survive all that togetherness? Family road trips can be great for bonding and learning, but also frustrating if kids are bored or not feeling well. To help parents plan an enjoyable, educational, and healthy trip, Dayton Children’s offers some helpful tips and activities.
STAY HEALTHY: When your family travels and is away from the usual eating and sleeping routines, the chances increase that someone might get sick. Kids also can be vulnerable to a variety of travel-related problems, especially motion sickness. Motion sickness occurs when the inner ears detect movement but the eyes – focused within a car or other vehicle – do not. These mixed signals coming into the brain can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, pallor, and cold sweats. Here are some helpful tips to help kids combat motion sickness:
- Eat a light meal before. Motion sickness seems worse on an empty stomach.
- Avoid eating during travel. For longer trips, sip drinks and eat small meals and snacks.
- Look outside. Kids should focus on still objects, not moving ones.
- Keep the windows open. Allow fresh air to circulate.
- Use a headrest. Minimize head movement.
- Make frequent stops. Visiting rest stops and parks for a short walk may help.
- Ask your doctor. There are medicines to prevent travel sickness.
PACK THE ESSENTIALS: When you pack, include any medications and other medical supplies you and your family use regularly because they may be hard to find at your destination. Don't forget inhalers, allergy medication and insulin, if needed. You also may want to pack:
- a small first-aid kit that includes antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, bandages, and other medications your doctor may recommend
- pain relieverlike acetaminophen
- insect repellent
- waterless alcohol-based hand rubs for when soap and clean water aren't available
RESEARCH THE AREA: Do some research before your trip to find the hospital or medical care facility closest to your destination, particularly if your child has a chronic health condition. In case of an emergency, carry a written copy of your child's medical history – this will help you remember important information at a time when you're likely to be upset. Your child's medical history should include:
- your name, your child's name, your address and home phone number
- immunization records
- your doctor's name, address and office and emergency phone numbers
- the name, address and phone number of your health insurance carrier, including your policy number
- a list of any ongoing health problems such as diabetes or asthma
- a list of any medications your child takes and your pharmacy's name and phone number
- a list of allergies to medications, food, insects and animals
- the name, address and phone number of a relative other than you
THINK SAFETY: While you're traveling, it's important to take the same health and safety precautions as you do at home – and always remember to buckle up your family. As a reminder, kids should be in a rear-facing seat during infancy until the upper weight limits of a convertible car seat, usually 35 pounds. Then children should ride in a five-point harness forward facing seat until the upper weight limits of the seat – usually around 40 pounds. Children are ready to ride in a belt-positioning booster if they are at least 40 pounds and 4 years old until they are 8 years old or 4’9” tall. Children 12 years old and younger should always ride in the back seat.
HAVE FUN: In addition to taking good care of your family, it is also important to have fun and relax. Here are some suggestions for items and activities to help the whole family enjoy the ride:
- Trip box. Pack pens, crayons, paper, and anything you want to have on hand – these are great in the car or when out to eat.
- Road map or atlas. Use stickers to track your family's progress. Help kids learn to read the map and find their way.
- Travel journal. Keep track of what you do each day. Take pictures along the trip and add them later.
- Read together. Reading aloud and taking turns helps keep everyone engaged. If motion sickness is a problem, try audio books.
- Play games. I-Spy, the License Plate Game, Spelling Bee, or have a Trivia Contest.
Before you leave, consider asking your doctor for other information about how to protect your family from illness and injury during travel. Do a little planning in advance to help cut down on the fighting and fussing, and your next road trip will likely be made up of fond family memories – on the road and off.
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