Note: I am not a medical professional. I am sharing these tips as a fellow parent and writing only what has worked for my family and me. If you need medical advice, contact your provider.

My first trip as a parent was so planned out. We were taking a train from Virginia to New York to visit family with an eight-week-old. I chose the train so I could get my daughter out of her car seat and walk with her if she got fussy. The trip up was ideal, and the first few days were great, but then our little girl came down with a 103-degree fever and a rash. As a new parent, I panicked, and luckily, my pediatrician had someone on call 24 hours a day. She had a medical school friend practicing in the nearest city, and my daughter was seen at the hospital within two hours. Her ear infection and Fifth’s disease were diagnosed, and she was better in a few days. I would like to share some tips I have gleaned from family and friends who have had similar experiences.

Ahead of time:

  1. Know your child’s weight in local measurements of where you are traveling. Many medication dosages are based on weight.

  2. Locate a doctor, urgent care and hospital before you go.  

  3. Know your insurance requirements prior to traveling. It may influence where you seek treatment if needed.

  4. Pack a bag with children’s pain reliever and fever reducer, a thermometer, bandages, first aid ointment, burn ointment, cold medicine and any prescription medication your child may need.  Remember to bring Benadryl if your child is prone to dermatitis – hotel sheets can leave your child with a rash and bring any inhalers your child with asthma may have. Parents of diabetic children need to plan if their diet may be altered with meals in new locales.

Once on Vacation:

  1. If your child is ill, adjust your itinerary. Make time for rest. Don’t keep going full strength dragging a sick and possibly contagious child with you. Embrace the downtime.

  2. Get supplies – water, ginger ale, tissues, sanitizing wipes, saltines, soup and quiet time activities can help make the experience more positive.

  3. Reach out – to a nurse advice line, the front desk or concierge at your hotel, your own pediatrician. If you are in an area where another language is spoken, request a translator. We were lucky enough to get a front desk hotel clerk that washed and dried my daughter’s favorite blanket after she was sick.  

  4. Find comfort for your child – I have a child who loves silky ribbons. When she is sick when we travel, I find a fabric store and buy a piece of ribbon if we don’t have one with us.  

  5. Don’t share with the rest of the family – wash hands, throw tissues away, wipe down surfaces and ask housekeeping to change linens, particularly pillowcases. Keep well children away from sick children whenever possible.

  6. Divide and Conquer – if you have well and sick children and are traveling with a partner, let one person take the well children on adventures while the other enjoys time in the hotel cuddling with the sick child.

My final advice is to roll with it. Your child cannot help becoming ill and is probably as disappointed as you at the change of plans. Remember that this plan change is not the end of the world. Preparation will make it much easier. Vacation insurance can be financially beneficial in this situation. Make sure you know the requirements and documentation needed to get your refund.