Traveling with children

Cecilia Carlson
Licensed pediatric nurse

Traveling with children requires some extra planning in order for a family to fully enjoy their trip. There are a few things that can be good to think about beforehand to ensure a safe and comfortable trip.


When you have booked your trip, consult your local pediatric/health center about your country's vaccination programme. The type of vaccination might vary depending on your child's age and your travel destination. In some cases, it can take up to several months before your child has a full protection, it's therefore important to be one step ahead when planning your trip. In order to visit some countries your child might need vaccines that are not included in the national vaccination programme, consult your local health center if they offer these. Remember that the risk of being infected can be high even before you reach your destination, eg. sitting close to other people on an airplane. 

Travel pharmacy kit 

It's a good thing packing your own travel pharmacy kit, you never know when it comes in handy. What you need may depend on your destination. See some examples below:

  • Dressing for skin abrasions, eg. plasters, compresses and ointment compresses.
  • Saline solution to wash wounds with, or, on irritated mosquito bites.
  • Cooling balm for mosquito bites and sunburn.
  • Paracetamol and/or ibuprophen for fever and pain relief.
  • Nasal drops and/or nasal spray.
  • Nasal aspirator for babies and toddlers.
  • Sunscreen and clothing with UV protection.
  • Fluid replacement, especially if you are traveling to a hot climate, but, it's also useful in case of stomach flu.
  • Hydrocortisone cream for mosquito bites, eczema or sunburn.
  • Protective cream for children with diaper rashes and red/irritated skin folds, these type of skin rashes tend to become worse in warm climates.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Laxatives for children. It's not unusual to become constipated when traveling and changing environment and it's therefore a good idea to bring laxatives in case of urgency.
  • If your child uses any type of medication on a daily basis, bring extra in case something unexpected happens, eg. flight delays.
  • D-vitamin drops (if this is something your child has been recommended)

Other useful things to pack

Prepare yourself for long flights, trains and stopovers by bringing along some must-haves on your trip. Some suggestions: 

  • Entertainment such as toys, books, crayons, paper and a tablet with downloaded movies on.
  • A change of clothes.
  • Diapers and wet wipes. 
  • Food and snacks. Note, most airlines have restrictions on what you're allowed to bring, especially when it comes to liquids. Bring empty baby bottles or sippy cups and fill them up when you've entered the aircraft.

At your destination

In order to avoid various infections, be aware of what food your child eats. Choose thoroughly cooked food such as fried or boiled. Peel your own fruit. Follow the country's restrictions on tap water, in some countries it's best to buy bottled water. Wash your hands before dining and use hand sanitizer when needed.

Make sure to bring different types of baby formula, if your child drinks that, as these might be difficult to get a hold of at your destination.

If you're planning to explore your destination by car, it's a good idea to bring a baby car seat. Some travel agencies allow you to check in baby car seats and strollers for free, double-check beforehand.

Last but not least

If you have an infant, consider whether your travel plans are really that important or necessary. A lot of professionals within pediatric care advice parents to postpone any travel plans until the child has its full vaccine protection, according to their country's vaccination programme. Some diseases children are vaccinated for are more common abroad. It's not unusual that parents seek medical care when abroad, some conditions can be serious and other milder, but a lot of parents also seek medical advice due to uncertainty.