Following a Few Simple Tips Can Help a Family Travel Well

Reducing stress caused by the unfamiliar can make a child’s transition to travel easier

Amin HSDAYTON, Ohio (June 13, 2014) – Family vacation can be one of the most exciting times for a child, but it can also be one of the most stressful. A new destination and a change in the time zone – all the things that make travel so intriguing – can have a significant effect on a child’s immunity.

According to the American Psychological Association   research has shown that the state of mind affects one’s state of health. This can even include stress caused by things that are perceived as fun or new, said Mansi Amin, DO a physician at Oakwood Primary Care.

“Whenever we disturb our routines, our bodies react,” Dr. Amin said. “It is part of our adaptation to a new environment and any stress it might place on our body and mind. Traveling has an impact on a person’s immunity because we are exposed to different environmental allergens and even diseases – like viruses or bacteria – that affect our body.”

The U.S. Travel Association  estimates that 1.6 million Americans will travel domestically this year. This number represents leisure trips to areas outside of one’s familiar setting. Most families preparing to make such trips may spend weeks or even months planning their big getaway and most likely none of them are planning for illness to be a part of their travels. Still, sickness can often creep into the picture.

Common illnesses while traveling include diarrhea, ear pain while flying, headaches, constipation and even more serious conditions such as deep venous thrombosis – where hours of sitting still can cause blood clots in one’s legs. Families can reduce the risk of illness while traveling by adequately preparing for possible scenarios and being vigilant while on their trip, Dr. Amin, a Premier HealthNet physician, said.

Listen to and care for your body - Consider not traveling if you or your child is sick. “Most individuals are aware if an illness is coming on,” Dr. Amin said. “If it is your child, take them to the doctor to see if there is anything that can be done so that the family might still be able to travel. When preparing for the trip, consider taking your child for a general physical or well-check appointment to make sure they are up-to-date on vaccinations. If you are traveling outside of the U.S., check with your doctor and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention  to find out if specific vaccinations or preventative medicine is needed.”

Eat healthy and stay hydrated – Vacation can often be seen as a time away from normal routines including work and school schedules. The same holds true for healthy eating habits. Dr. Amin said it is extremely important for children to eat healthy before they travel and while they are away from home. Long car rides should not be seen as an opportunity to snack along the way because it can often throw children off of their normal meal schedule, she said. Likewise, adequate hydration is vital, especially when it comes to air travel where individuals are exposed to very dry conditions inside the plane’s cabin. Adequate water consumption can also safeguard against constipation.

Adjust to time zones – Traveling to new time zones can throw the body off of its normal routine. Prepare for the adjustment several days before departure by going to bed an hour or two earlier or later each night. Time zones can also have a significant impact on medication schedules. If a maintenance medication is taken every four hours, think of a way to stay on schedule during a time zone change such as setting an alarm on a watch or phone, Dr. Amin said.

Minimize stress – Consider ways to make a child feel more at home when traveling since the unfamiliar can breed stress. “Make sure that children have toys and books and their favorite blanket,” Dr. Amin said. “These little things will help alleviate stress, which can often play a role in affecting their eating and drinking habits while traveling.”

Be prepared for sedentary travel – Long car rides and air travel puts everyone at risk for headaches and ear pain and for adults, more serious conditions such as deep venous thrombosis, or blood clots in the legs. “Deep venous thrombosis can be hereditary so individuals can be tested if they have a family history to find out whether they are also susceptible to it,” Dr. Amin said.

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