Travel tips

Caring for a Sick Child on Holiday

Last updated 7th June 2017

You’ve spent the last few weeks getting excited about your family holiday, all the packing has been done, you’ve got yourselves there and then eek, one of the kids is ill. So what do you do?


It goes without saying that you should check before you book, let alone travel, if your chosen destination needs specific health precautions to be taken such as malaria tablets or jabs.

The NHS website has all the information you need.

If you are travelling with a very young baby who hasn’t had all their jabs yet it is probably best to check with your GP or health visitor that they are ok to travel abroad.

And, making sure your children are included on your travel insurance is a must do. It can be one of those things that slips your mind in the excitement of a first family holiday but is vital.

Before you travel

Check the emergency services numbers for the country you are travelling to and put them in your phone. It seems a bit over the top, but chances are if you have looked at the number you’ll remember it if an emergency happens.

Most accommodation lists emergency numbers in welcome packs, too.

Check important numbers for child safety while you’re abroad.

Try to go on the official tourist board website or check out blogs written by people who live in the country and can give you the inside gen on the health system (as well as all the fun stuff too).

What to take in a first aid kit

It’s surprising how hard it can sometimes be to find items we take for granted over here in shops and chemists abroad. And, when you add in the potential language difference it’s probably best to use up a little bit of your luggage allowance for some medicine bag essentials:

  • Calpol (brilliant for high temperatures, teething, colds….)
  • Thermometer strips (easy to use and disposable)
  • Kids Piriton (offers relief from hayfever, reactions to food, insect bites and heat rash as well as soothing the chicken pox rash)
  • Factor 50 suncream (there are lots of different kids suncreams on the market, some can irritate skin so it’s best to shop around and not go any lower than factor 50)
  • Rehydration sachets (perfect for upset tummies)
  • Plasters (preferably with their favourite cartoon characters for bumps and grazes)
  • Any existing medication

How to avoid illnesses

Although you can’t prevent against everything hopefully the following advice will help prevent little upsets.

  • Keep hands clean at mealtimes with lots of hand washing
  • Try to drink bottled water and keep children well hydrated
  • Avoid already cut fruit at buffets etc and try to give children fruit that needs peeling
  • Unwashed salad and vegetables can give you a dodgy tummy so try to avoid if possible
  • Try to avoid being in direct sun between 11am-3pm. If you are, make sure children are well covered with wide brim hats and sunglasses with plenty of factor 50 suncream. Sunsuits with a built in SPF protection are great for playing on the beach or around the pool as most have long sleeves and cover a lot of the body

It happens to everyone, and unlike when you are an adult and don’t feel great on holiday you can’t really self-medicate with sunshine and sangria.

Although nothing will completely guarantee you have a germ free holiday hopefully the following advice will help if bugs strike whilst you’re away…