Readers of this blog will know you are unlikely to find the Hobbis family in the wilds of the Serengeti nor running along the beaches of Thailand or scaling the foothills of the Himalayas. Yet, at least.
One reason for this is that our track record, healthwise, when taking a holiday out of season is not great.
In fact, The Husband has banned me from booking anywhere in the autumn half-term or anything pre-Easter after he was forced to take Ieuan to a glacial Pennywell Farm in Devon whilst I took Caitlin back to our holiday cottage to minister to her, and Mr Puke.
You can bet that if our two manage to avoid any school term bugs, they will surely hatch them for half term.
This does mean, however, that we know how to fully prepare ourselves for the bug onslaught and prevention is always better than cure as they say.
Here are our top winter family travel health tips to keep you and the kids happy, healthy and not desperately phoning around for a pharmacy at stupid-o-clock on your long-awaited holiday. (Have you noticed how kids always announce ear infections and other diseases at 5 pm on Fridays or as soon as you get in the car?).
WINTER FAMILY TRAVEL HEALTH TIPS BEFORE YOU GO
Better to be safe than sorry but make sure you read the terms and conditions fully before you set off. For example, are pre-existing medical conditions covered on your policy?
European Health Insurance Card
This replaces the old E111 and gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.
The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would to a resident of that country, either at a reduced cost or, in many cases, for free.
This may all change, of course, depending on what happens with BREXIT. Currently, no changes have been confirmed.
At the moment, the EHIC is free. To get one, just fill out an application on the EHIC website or by calling the NHS on 0300 330 1350.
Note that an EHIC is NOT a substitute for travel insurance.
Make sure you’ve enough to cover yourself when on holiday. For me, it means making sure I’m not about to run out of my thyroid medication. Also, consider contraceptive pills and any other ongoing medication.
Again, things may change depending on BREXIT.
First Aid Kit
We always keep one of these in the car boot but you need to make sure that it is checked and missing items replaced before you go. You can never have too many plasters.
Taking a temperature is always a good gauge of how bad a child’s infection really is – particularly in the case of things like ear infections or the sniffles. In the case of a high temperature, see medical help as quickly as possible, especially with a very young child.
The Husband and Ieuan suffer from hayfever, I have a dust allergy and Caitlin gets covered in blotches if she eats certain sweets (Starburst, for example) so we pack the Piriton and, for the Husband, Beconase. Oh, and lots of tissues!
Child’s Pain Relief
Nurofen (Ibuprofen) and Calpol are family staples. Sachets are easier to pack than the bottles though. If you’re flying though you can only take liquids to the maximum of 100ml.
Yes, they even have sun in Devon. Obviously a basic if you are going anywhere warm. If the kids are going swimming, pack water-resistant sun cream, hats, tee-shirts or even full body suits.
Children can’t take diarrhoea tablets like Imodium so the best way to help a child with a poorly tummy is to stick to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast). You can also give them a probiotic. I often give my two probiotics during term time too – you can get rather yummy tasting chocolate ones which they don’t mind at all.
Rehydration is really important to replace the body’s salt and sugar if you or your child do have the runs. Rehydration sachets just need to be mixed with water and come in different flavours to help disguise the taste.
WINTER FAMILY TRAVEL HEALTH TIPS FOR WHILE YOU’RE THERE
You can’t protect against every eventuality, of course, but there are basic steps you can take to try to minimise the bugs.
Wash your hands
We are always horrified how many people in motorway services toilets just walk out without washing their hands! Make sure you wash your hands – especially before eating. I always carry hand sanitizer in my handbag in the event of finding a less than pristine loo – which is frequent! You’ll find more tips for health hygiene on the go in this post.
Make sure food is properly cooked
Buffets are notorious for being the source of food bugs, particularly where food is kept warm for long periods of time. I managed to lose a stone in weight whilst on holiday in Egypt many years ago due to a dodgy curry from the hotel buffet.
Be wary of ice in drinks
Another great source of bacteria and germs, ice in drinks and drinks glasses that haven’t been properly washed. If you’re served a drink in a less than clean glass send it back and avoid ice if you can.
Stick to bottled water
In countries where the water might be less than drinkable, stick to bottled water, particularly for little ones. Avoiding untreated water when swimming might also be a good idea – for example badly maintained swimming pools!
IF YOU DO FALL ILL
If you are unlucky enough to fall ill, you might want to check out if you are entitled to make a legal claim by contacting a Law Society accredited law firm.
Don’t be taken in by touts or claims farmers – we’ve all read about the consequences of fraudulently claiming for food poisoning – nowadays you might find yourself holidaying at Her Majesty’s Pleasure! Make sure you contact professionals who can explain your rights to you and properly assess whether you have a valid claim.
Did you know, for example, that claims for illness while on holiday are covered by ‘The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations Act’?
The Act says that if something you’ve paid for is not as expected, fails to meet standards or causes you illness or injury while on holiday, you can make a claim.
And in the cases of food poisoning claims (“foodborne illnesses”), you are only covered if you paid for an all-inclusive holiday package where you never ate outside of your hotel.
Which means I might well have had a claim all those years ago when I visited Egypt. As it was I was visited by a doctor who gave me an injection in my bottom (or what I have no idea) and wrote me a doctor’s note diagnosing “psychic problems”.
It makes having to lug a vat of Calpol and plasters down the M5 positively a joyous day out, doesn’t it?
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