Find out how to keep your family healthy while traveling with tips from an eco-dad and the author of Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home.
By Christopher Gavigan
Family trips can be a blast, but nothing ruins a vacation faster than a sick child. Whether you're visiting Mayan ruins or checking out Times Square, you've got to plan ahead-with some creativity!
1. Keep Your Hands Clean
Skip the antibacterial wipes! Instead, opt for good old-fashioned hand washing, a process that should last as long as it takes to sing the alphabet song. The overuse of antibacterial products may be weakening our immune systems and giving rise to supergerms and bacteria that are resistant to control. Conventional antibacterial wipes, gels, and soaps contain industrial chemicals and harmful pesticides, and they kill both good and bad bacteria. For added sanitation when traveling, try tea-tree oil, an excellent natural antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal that's widely available in many forms, including wipes and sprays.
Related: The Top Kid-Friendly Airports
2. Avoid Airplane Germs
Airports and airplane cabins are bacteria minefields. Keep natural, all-surface bamboo wipes from Method with you during the flight, and wipe down tray tables, service buttons, TV and radio accessories, and seatbelts before using them. If your airline pillow arrives unwrapped (and thus probably unwashed), drape a scarf or sweater around it to protect your face. For children, substitute their favorite snuggly from home for the airline blanket-it will provide not only familiarity but also protection against the previous user's germs. Also be sure to wash up after touching railings and elevator buttons and using public lavatories.
3. Stay Hydrated
Children are particularly susceptible to dehydration without their routine and their regular diet. And the on-the-go beat of travel sometimes disrupts our daily water intake habits. So stock up on travel packs of pure electrolytes, like Clif Shot Electrolyte Drink, that can be dumped into bottles or canteens, and familiarize yourself with the CDC's guidelines for recognizing signs of dehydration. And pick up a sustainable stainless-steel Klean Kanteen, then have your friendly terminal baristas fill it up with water after you've gone through security.
4. Avoid Allergic Reactions
Did you ever wonder why airlines replaced those snack-size bags of nuts with pretzels? It's because today, nearly 12 million Americans suffer from allergic reactions to foods like peanuts, wheat, and soy. If you have a child with an allergy, you know that planning ahead is required to prevent a reaction. Before a trip abroad, print out an allergy card in the relevant language to bring with you. In addition, pack plenty of dried or prepackaged healthy snacks.
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