A comprehensive medical kit is essential when travelling with children and can be the difference between resolving a minor health issue and a full blown medical emergency. This is particularly important if you are traveling to developing or non-English-speaking countries where simple medications, such as Paracetamol, may be difficult to source in an urgent situation if you don’t speak the language. Dr Ailene Chan, General Practitioner, gives suitcases&strollers the must-have items for any family traveling with kids.
The Medical Kit
- Hand Sanitiser Rub on alcohol is effective against most bacteria, but it may not prevent some spores or viruses. So hand washing is still important. If you’re unsure, do both. Be sure to keep these stored carefully so they are not ingested by small children.
- Dressings A basic dressing pack can be picked up from your pharmacy and should include a crepe bandage, gauze and waterproof dressings. Include an antiseptic for wounds (such as Iodine wipes). Band-Aids are also useful for small cuts, scratches or as a placebo for young kids.
- Burn Treatment Aloe vera cream is useful to relieve mild sunburn and a dry non-stick dressing is important for small first degree blisters.
- Paracetamol For pain relief and fever.
- Thermometre Choose one that doesn’t require batteries and isn’t easily breakable.
- Antihistamine For allergies. Be aware that these should only be used for children over 2 years old, are not recommended for pregnancy and cause drowsiness.
- Sting Relief For bites and itchiness. My preference is Tiger Balm. Otherwise choose a natural alternative like Burt’s Bees.
- Medical Tape
- Fluid and Electrolyte Replacements For instance gastrolyte or HYDRAlyte that can come in powder or disposable tablet form.
- Antibiotics These should only be prescribed by a doctor and only used under specific guidance.
- Moisturiser Eczema is a common problem in heat, or when using sunscreens or repellants. Daily moisturising will help. Ask your pharmacist for recommendations.
[For travel tips on first aid to apply in a medical emergency when traveling with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Other Important Items
- Repellent Those containing DEET are the most effective and can be used on infants over 2 months of age.
- Sunscreen At least SPF 30+.
- Infant Products Such as nappy rash creams, teething gels and cradle cap ointments. These tend not to be readily available in developing countries and non-English-speaking countries you may not be able to read the ingredients.
For Children With Prior Medication Conditions
- Regular Medicines Pack these with an accompanying letter from your doctor. Be sure the letter uses the chemical names for the medicines (not the brands – for instance, “Paracetamol” rather than “Panadol”) to avoid confusion overseas. Carry these in your hand luggage so they do not get lost in transit. If you’re unsure, check with your airline to find out what you can carry on board the plane.
- Epipen For children with known severe allergies. You will require a prescription to get this.
- Sterile Syringes For some conditions. Always carry these with a letter from your doctor and ensure you take your own disposal unit (available from chemists).
- Puffers and Spacers For children with asthma.
- Medic Alert Bracelet All children with chronic health conditions or allergies should wear one when travelling. This can be organised through your doctor.
[For travel tips on how to travel with kids that have food allergies, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
For other common medical questions when traveling with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story Medical FAQs.
For travel tips about purchasing family travel insurance, see the suitcases&strollers story here.
If you are travelling to a developing country with kids, see the suitcases&strollers travel advisor here.