If you’re taking your family on a vacation, health and safety (and fun, of course) should be at the forefront of your planning. Unlike traveling solo or with friends, taking children to foreign places poses certain risks — and adventure. To maximize your enjoyment and keep your mind at ease, it’s important to do your research in advance and be prepared.
We get asked a lot about how we’ve coped with precarious drinking water, threats, bug bites and so on. Sometimes, our answer is to NOT think about it too much, while at other times we encourage parents to read up. We went on a trip with a 10-week-old baby and realized at the hotel check-in that the area was infected with ZIKA.
Instantly (as a mom) my mind went into slight panic mode and I started making plans to leave. Studies haven’t been done about ZIKA in such young brains so I was very nervous. Needless to say, we didn’t terminate our vacation but we made some changes: we didn’t allow entry by cleaning staff into our suite (because mosquitoes tended to come in through our front door) and I kept the toddler and infant inside as soon as 4:30pm hit. They weren’t allowed to play near bushes and we guarded them at all times. It was a bit over-the-top and I didn’t exactly enjoy myself. This could have been prevented with a little bit of pre-travel research.
Here are some questions to ask of your destination:
(1) Is water safe for drinking? Bathing?
(2) How safe are foreign travelers in the area (theft, abductions, general mischief, hoaxes etc)
(3) Is there any current outbreak of an illness (SARS, zika, bird flu etc)
(4) Is there any impending weather threat in the news (hurricane, volcanic eruption, tsunami etc)
(5) Has your hotel had bed bugs before (check reviews and call ahead if concerned)?
(6) What is the healthcare system like and how far is the nearest hospital or infirmary from your resort/hotel/home?
(7) Do you require vaccinations?
The Government of Canada created an entire online area called “Well on Your Way” dedicated to safe and healthy travel. We recommend checking it out before you head out just as a precaution. In the worst case scenario, you can plan accordingly and make necessary changes and in the best case scenario your anticipated destination is free and clear.
As always, if you aren’t covered by travel insurance (for everyone in the family), definitely purchase some before you head out.
And definitely check on vaccinations. We made travel plans when our youngest was a baby (to Africa) and we had to cancel due to vaccination requirements. There’s also concern if you’re pregnant so we recommend taking precautions either way.
Safe and happy travels!