Ten Family Travel Med Kit Essentials

by  Paul Eisenberg | May 10, 2011
Baby on plane
Baby on plane / tatyana_tomsickova/istock

After more than 11 years of parenting I'm still refining my travel med kit. I usually pack a bunch of ointments, sprays, and salves, but there was definitely a time, probably very early on, when I was a lot more careful and thorough and current about what to bring on family vacations.

So I reviewed the literature, as they say, and identified some products and preventatives that we all might consider packing on our next trip.

1. Butterfly band-aids. Not the first shape that springs to mind, is it? But if you’ve got young kids like mine who wait until they’re well away from cushiony surfaces before doing their tumbles and face plants, the butterflies are “helpful for minor cuts that need to come together,” says Dr. Christine Wood, a practicing pediatrician and spokesperson for USANA Health Services.

2.  Mederma for Kids. This is a cream Wood recommends parents use “on cuts or scrapes that are scarring. The product does truly help in minimizing the appearance of scars,” she says.

3. Hand sanitizer. The Centers for Disease Control Yellow Book has a handy section on traveling safely with infants and children. One of the book’s blander bits of advice is that “when proper hand-washing facilities are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used as a disinfecting agent.” But there’s a twist: “Alcohol does not remove organic material,” the CDC says, “so visibly soiled hands should be washed with soap and water.”

4. Children’s Benadryl Anti-Itch Gel. This is one of several itch-stopping topical gels parents might use for stings and bites, Wood says.

5. Insect repellent. To DEET or not to DEET? Parents debate this one in pharmacy aisles everywhere, and the CDC cites the American Academy of Pediatrics, which “recommends that repellents with DEET should not be used on infants younger than two months old. Also, the CDC reminds us that “products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus specify that they should not be used on children under the age of three.”

Plus, here’s one I know you didn’t know, which is that “repellent products must state any age restriction. If there is none, EPA has not required a restriction on the use of the product,” according to the CDC.

6. That part of your brain that keeps your fingers out of your mouth. Our friends at the CDC remind us not to “apply repellent to children’s hands” as “children tend to put their hands in their mouths.” I never remember this.

7. Sun-blocking garments. Nothing is more loathsome to me in summertime – other than jacked-up ice cream pricing – than all the time it takes to lather and re-lather kids with sunscreen. That’s why I love the CDC reminder that “there are sun-blocking shirts available that are made for swimming and preclude having to smear sunscreens over the entire trunk.” This kind of shirt and protective, fully brimmed hats are good ideas for kids of all ages.

8. Sea-Bands. Given that meds like Dramamine can cause drowsiness, Wood has used Sea-Bands on her own son. The bands, she says, “work as acupuncture bands on the wrist and minimize motion sickness.”

9. Probiotics. “For those children who are experiencing vomiting and diarrhea,” Wood says, a probiotic can be incorporated into a child’s food “to soothe indigestion symptoms.”

10. Ziploc bag. On a weekend bus ride last summer I mopped up my younger daughter’s vomit with a long-sleeved shirt, which I disposed of in the convenient Ziploc bag I had been carrying it in. From that trip forward our family has traveled with several strategically-placed gallon Ziplocs, each containing a few paper towels. A throw-up kit. Don’t leave home without it.

Advisory and disclaimer: Don't try out any new medications, nutritional supplements, or treatments on your child without consulting your family doctor. In addition, although I don’t personally endorse the products mentioned in this post, I don’t feel I can say “zip-top” bag and be taken seriously, hence “Ziploc.”

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