Summer Travel Preparation – Ten Tips for Safer Summer Vacations

10 tipsSummer is just around the corner and many of you are in the planning stages of your summer vacations.  Staying safe and healthy during your vacation makes all the difference as to whether or not it’s a vacation you’ll enjoy.  Taking a few precautions in advance to adequately pack for minor emergencies and carefully planning activities will go a long way toward making this vacation memorable for all of the right reasons.  With this in mind, whether you’re traveling by land or by air, near or far, here are 10 tips for a safer summer vacation.

Traveling by Car

1.  Prepare your vehicle

  • Check the tires, including the spare – proper inflation and good tread can save money, time and lives.
  • Inspect the engine, battery, hoses, belts and fluids for wear and proper levels.  Check the A/C.
  • Do a “once around” – test all the lights, wipers and clean the windows (inside and out)
  • If you’re not sure of what to do, consider a quick inspection by a qualified technician.  A few dollars up front can mean peace of mind and safe arrivals, as well as no costly on-the-road repairs and trip interruptions.
  • Prepare an Emergency Roadside Kit, including jumper cables, a flashlight and plenty of bottled water.

2. Buckle up drivers and passengers

  • Parents, grandparents and caregivers, need to use the correct seat for young passengers and be sure the seat is installed properly. Keep infants, toddlers and older children in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
  • Remember that long trips can be particularly tough on your kids, especially in the heat – pack plenty of snacks and cold drinks for the road (consider freezing juice boxes or water bottles overnight).
  • Use books, toys, DVDs and video games to keep children occupied and the driver focused.
  • Keep children 12 and under in the back seat – it’s the safest place.
  • Stopping along the drive gives everyone a chance to stretch and makes the trip easier.  If you have a fussy baby, do not take them out of their car seat while driving to soothe or provide a bottle.  If your child needs that level of attention, pull over in a safe place, such as a rest stop.
  • Older children need to ride in a booster seat from about age four until a seat belt fits them correctly. 

Traveling by Air

3.  Buckle up in the plane, too.

  • Always travel with your child’s car seat — you will need it to and from the airport.
  • Whenever possible, purchase a ticket for your child and keep him or her restrained properly in a certified, aircraft-approved, installed car seat.
  • Children who have outgrown car seats should sit directly in the aircraft seat with the lap belt across their thighs or hips.

4. Avoid ear pain and motion sickness.

  • Pack gum in your carry on luggage or purse.  Children are more common in experience ear pain than adults in changes of pressure. To minimize this, infants should bottle or breast feed where older children can chew gum, swallow, or yawn.
  • Consider packing an over-the-counter medication for motion sickness such as meclizine (Bonine, Antivert, Dramamine). It can be a very effective preventive measure for short trips or for mild cases of motion sickness. If you or someone travelling with you has symptoms of motion sickness, eating a few crackers and sipping on a clear carbonated drink like ginger ale or 7 up may help.  Closing their eyes may help, too.

 All Travel

 5.  Stay protected from sunburn.  

  • Pack sunscreen/sunblock with at least SPF 30.  Be sure to use it as directed and re-apply often.
  • If possible, avoid being outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., if possible.
  • Wear a hat that protects as much of your face and head as possible.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • If you are taking medication, check with your doctor to see if you need to take extra precautions

6.  Avoid heat exhaustion.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Carry bottled water with you everywhere to make sure you are drinking enough.
  •  If you’re unsure of the water safety, don’t drink the local water.  Only drink bottled water.
  • Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar because these can dehydrate you further.
  • If you’re vacationing in temperatures above 90 degrees, stay indoors in the air conditioning, if possible.
  • Wear light weight clothing and dress in layers.

7.   Protect yourself from insect bites

  • The most active times for mosquitoes is during dawn and dusk. Use insect repellents or stay inside during those hours.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to help protect skin from bites, and check areas for insect nests and hives to avoid them.
  • If  you’ve been bitten and the bite looks unusual, seek medical attention at once. If you can take a photo with your smartphone or keep the insect specimen, it will be helpful for the healthcare provider to identify what type of bites and what treatments to give to the patient.

8.  Stay safe in the water.

  • Never leave your child alone in or near the pool, river, lake or ocean.
  • Don’t allow toddlers to swim without a life vest or swimming aids.
  • Look up emergency medical and/or rescue contact numbers in advance of your trip and store them in your cell phone contacts.  A few minutes saved in an emergency can make a huge difference.
  • Whenever possible, swim where lifeguards are on duty. 

9.  Pack an emergency first-aid kit.  One that is well stocked is always great to have around whether at home, in the car, or carry along on a plane.  Here are some important items to include:

  • Disinfecting wipes, bandages, antibiotic get
  • Sunblock spray and/or cream
  • Children’s pain relievers, antihistamines
  • Tweezers
  • Index cards with important information: insurance, pediatrician’s phone number, urgent care, etc.

 10.   Pack prescription medications and wear your medical ID.

  • When packing for a travel,  always consider the storage and safety of all medications, if prescribed, and the storage and safety of breast milk, baby formula, etc.
  • Never leave home without your medical ID.   If necessary, pack an extra bracelet during special trips, particularly if you will be travelling alone or leaving town for an extended period. Always wear the bracelet where it can be spotted easily and avoid taking it off.  Just remember, every minute counts in an emergency, and knowing your condition and medication makes diagnosis and assessment more accurate and timely.

Sources: California Office of Traffic Safety, CommonHealth Virginia, Yahoo! Voices

About Amanda Beck

Amanda Beck writes for American Medical ID on a variety of topics relating to health care and healthy living, especially for those whose medical conditions warrant an emergency ID.