What medicines do you pack when you travel with your kids? For me, plastic bags are a medical essential since our first family trip to Greece.
Our journey home from Greece just before my daughter’s second birthday was horribly memorable. She started vomiting as the plane took off and carried on at intervals throughout the two flights it took to reach Heathrow. Two year-olds aren’t generally very neat at throwing up and it was a messy experience for which we were hopelessly unprepared. The narrow sick bags provided on the plane just weren’t up to the job. By the time we landed in London she, my husband and I were practically naked. We’d peeled off layers of soggy, reeking clothes and stuffed them into our hand luggage without even a plastic bag to put them in. The cabin staff averted their gaze as we left the plane. A visit to our GP a few days later diagnosed tonsillitis. Who knew that a sore throat could make you puke? Certainly not me.
On a trip to Turkey a couple of years ago it was my son’s turn to hurl. I think he’d swallowed some water whilst pretending to be a fish in the jacuzzi. He was spewing for the last couple of days of our stay. Yet again we were unprepared. All we had to give him was Calpol but it didn’t help. Fellow hotel guests offered rehydration powder but it wasn’t suitable for children. Luckily the kindly hotel owner sent one of his staff into the local town to get some medicine from the pharmacy. I don’t know what the medicine was as I don’t understand Turkish but it settled my son’s stomach enough to manage the plane journey home without retching.
Sometimes the contents of the family medical kit just aren’t enough, even if you remember to pack it. A holiday illness which I feel very guilty about is when my daughter, six at the time, contracted impetigo while we were camping in France. In case you haven’t encountered it (lucky you), impetigo is a horribly contagious skin infection which causes sores and blisters. I’d never heard of impetigo. My husband and I thought that the red patches which crept across our little girl’s body over the course of a fortnight were caused by eczema and so we blithely coated her in eczema cream twice a day to soothe it. This misguided treatment spread the infection so far that by the time I took her to the GP on the first day of term in September to ask for some stronger eczema cream he forbade her from going to school for two weeks.
The last thing you want to happen when you’re travelling is for your child to become ill but if they do I’ve learnt the hard way that it’s best to be prepared. These days when we travel I try to remember to pack a small bag of medicines and first aid stuff from home just in case we need it. (Obviously we’d find a doctor if necessary, I’m just talking here about dealing with minor ailments. If impetigo appears on any of us ever again when we’re away I’ll head straight to the nearest medical centre for treatment.) In case we need to see a doctor while we’re away in Europe I make sure that we all have our free EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) which entitle us to free or reduced cost public healthcare. (N.b. post-Brexit, when your EHIC expires you can replace it with a free GHIC, a Global Health Insurance Card). I also check that our travel insurance (here are my tips for finding family travel insurance) is up to date and that I have the emergency insurance contact number in my phone.
Family medical kit
This is my medical kit list for family trips.
In case of sickness
Plastic bags – lots. These can be used either as sick bags or for soiled clothes.
Re-hydration solution suitable for kids and adults.
Travel sickness tablets suitable for kids and adults.
Arsenicum – a homeopathic remedy which can help with sickness and diarrhoea.
In case of injuries
Plasters – for cuts and blisters and as a placebo for small children when something hurts.
Tweezers – in case of splinters.
Arnica cream – a homeopathic remedy which helps reduce bruising.
For insect bites
Insect bite cream.
Zap-it! – an amazing little device which uses tiny electric impulses to reduce the swelling and itching caused by insect bites ( I was sent a Zap-it to review recently).
Paracetamol tablets – for adults
Sachets of both paracetamol solution (such as Calpol) and ibuprofen solution (such as Nurofen) for children – great for ear pain on plane journeys.
Piriton solution – in case anyone has an allergic reaction to anything.
Any prescribed medicines which we need.
Have I forgotten anything? Do you take medicines with you when you travel? What would you add to the list?