Health and Community Services Department
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL CLINIC
Advice for Child Travelers
Children with their own passports require visas just like adults.
Those traveling with children should ensure that they have adequate health and travel insurance which covers their dependent children if medical and/or dental assistance is required.
For any would be traveler to a new country, finding out as much as possible for example about local customs and legends, places of interest, foods available, dominant language etc. can enhance and benefit their trip. Choice of schooling is very important for intending expatriate families. For older children boarding school away from the overseas family home may have to be considered if there would be serious local language difficulties or compatibility of courses with the desired examinations for entry into higher education. Teenage children often find changing schools difficult and if this also involves changing countries serious adaptation problems should be expected. Many would advise against families going abroad as expatriates for the first time if they have teenage children.
Keeping children occupied, comfortable and as safe as possible may make a journey less stressful. Many airlines allow infants and young children at approximately 10% of the adult fare. On long haul flights it would be beneficial to pay for a child seat (usually 50% - 70% of the adult fare).
Sky cots or bassinets, if required, must be arranged at the time of booking. Infant carriers/capsules for use in motor vehicles can be used in flight, when a seat has been booked for the child. Standard airline seats are unsuitable for very young children as the child can slip underneath or out of them. Special children's restraining seat belts should be requested. It is important that the child is not placed inside a standard seat belt with an adult, children are best held securely in the arms of an adult where no other option is available.
Remaining Healthy while abroad
Children and young adults are generally more liable to become ill while traveling than older adults in terms of travel related illness attack rates. It is essential that knowledge and awareness of risks and how to avoid them be explained, for example, how to avoid insect bites or how to make water safe for drinking. However, the most common illnesses experienced may include ear and eye infections, common colds, skin rashes, sunburn, diarrhea, chest infections and trauma. All travelers with children should know how to treat minor ailments and when to seek medical treatment.
Bathe the affected area with cool water or cold compresses. Apply calamine lotion and administer an analgesic e.g. Paracetamol. If the area is blistered keep it dry and covered any burned areas since they can easily become infected. In children if sunburn is extensive they can be at risk of losing a lot of body heat and can become hypothermic. Medical advice should be sought.
Prickly heat is a common complaint in hot humid climates and can be particularly troublesome for children. It is caused by the sweat glands becoming congested as the skin sweats more in an attempt to get cool. It leads to a distressing prickly sensation under the skin (usually on the neck, back and chest) accompanied by a fine red rash with tiny blisters. Treatment is to bathe in cool water, pat dry, and powder with talc or apply calamine lotion. Keep the child in the shade as much as possible in loose 100% cotton clothing.
Cuts, Sores and Insect bites
In hot moist climates any wound or break in the skin is likely to let in infection. The area should be cleaned and then kept dry and clean. This may require the use of a sticking plaster or a non-stick dressing e.g. Melolin.
When indicated malaria prevention tablets should be given to children of all ages. The doses are different from adults so always check carefully with your doctor or pharmacist.
Children should be encouraged to avoid and mistrust any dogs or other mammals because of the risk of rabies and other diseases. Any bite, scratch or lick from a warm blooded, furry animal should immediately be thoroughly cleaned. If there is any possibility that the animal is infected with rabies, immediate medical assistance should be sought.
Remember to avoid contaminated food and water.
If your child has vomiting or diarrhea lost fluid and salts must be replaced. It may be helpful to take rehydrating tablets or powders for reconstituting with boiled water. You can usually buy these at your local chemist.
Children become dehydrated more rapidly than adults so replacing lost fluid with rehydrating fluids is very important. Special sachets of sugar and salt powders to mix with boiled or sterile water can be bought at most chemists in Britain but may not easily be available abroad. Seek medical advice early for young children especially if vomiting is also present.
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