Summer holidays with kids are often the best family holidays as they can mean long days at the beach or lazy afternoons by the pool. But prolonged exposure to the sun also brings with it the risk of heatstroke or sunburn. To avoid spoiling your long awaited family vacation, here is how to keep everyone protected from the sun when traveling with kids.

·  Always carry hats with you so you have them when you need them. Hats should be wide brimmed or a bucket (rather than a cap) so they provide adequate cover for noses and ears. If a cap is all you have, it is still better than no hat at all.

·  If you can get the kids to keep them on, UV protective sunglasses will also protect little eyes from the sun.

·  Apply water resistant sunscreen of at least SPF 40 or above to all exposed skin including the face, ears, back of the hands and tops of the feet. Keep doing this every couple of hours.

·  It is important that the sunscreen is water resistant even if you are not swimming. This ensures the cream is still effective when the kids are sweating.

·  When possible, use clothing to cover up the skin too. For instance, opting for long sleeved tees rather than singlets will protect the arms from the heat of the sun. Specialty sports shops also sell UV protective clothing (designed for hiking, cricket or fishing for example) if you are going to spend very long periods of time in the sun.

·  If swimming, always wear a UV protective rash vest and hat in the water. If the kids are spending a particularly long time in the water, apply the sunscreen more regularly.

[For more beach safety tips, see the suitcases&strollers interview with the cast from Bondi Rescue.] 

·  Keep everyone well hydrated. Carry lots of water with you and encourage the kids to keep sipping throughout the day.

·  Try to stay out of the direct sun during the hottest part of the day (usually from noon to 3pm). Plan to have the kids outside in the mornings and late afternoons and allocate the middle of the day to quiet time to be spent indoors or in the shade.

·  Monitor the amount of time infants are in direct sunlight as their skin is particularly vulnerable. You can purchase sunscreen for sensitive skin which is appropriate for babies.

·  Apply these rules to anywhere that the kids could be exposed to the sun. For instance, on overcast days the UV ratings can often be as high as on sunny days. Similarly if kids are sitting in the sunny side of the car on a long road trip they can still be vulnerable to sunstroke even though they aren’t technically outside. Engaging in outdoor winter sports (such as skiing) can also mean kids can get burnt from the reflection of the sun off the snow.

[For more travel tips on skiing and snowboarding with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.] 

·  Be super vigilant about being sun smart if you are traveling to Australia with kids. The UV levels there are notoriously high and it is easy to get sunburnt if you aren’t wearing sunscreen, even in the middle of winter.

·  Apply these rules to yourself too. Protecting the kids will only have limited value if you end up in hospital with heatstroke yourself. While kids have more vulnerable skin, adults shouldn’t underestimate the possibility of sunburn either.

For more travel tips on avoiding getting sick from swimming pools, see the suitcases&strollers story here. 

Image: Michelle Leung