What can you do to help before you even leave home?
Ask about an advice line or email address. If you don't already know of one, ask your doctor's office if there is an advice number you can call or an email address you can use for questions in case your child becomes ill while you're traveling. Your health insurance provider might also have a number you can use to reach an advice nurse 24 hours a day. Since the service isn't always widely advertised, it can be worth a call to your health insurance company to find out.
Create an iHealth Record (now a.k.a. Google Health). An iHealth Record stores each family member's health information in one convenient, secure place. Prescriptions, allergies, vaccinations, blood type, and insurance information can be instantly accessed by a medical professional if and when needed anywhere in the world where internet access is available. Ask your doctor or find out more at www.iHealthRecord.org.
Pack your child's "Travel Kit." More than what simply goes in the diaper bag or carry-on, your child's travel kit has basic products and items that can help your child through a wide range of difficulties that might crop up in your travels-but could be hard to come by while en route, on a day trip, late at night, or in faraway destinations. Recommendations for your child's travel kit-and a modified version that is approved for carry-on can be found in my book Travels with Baby.
Stay healthy! Make sure everyone in your household is getting reasonable amounts of rest and drinking plenty of fluids--especially children who have had runny noses or congestion in the week or two prior to travel. Drinking extra water helps the body stay healthy and cope with the stresses of travel in many ways, including by keeping the mucus thin from blocking the ears, particularly while flying.
So what happens if your child still gets sick while you're away from home?
Don't panic! Monitor the symptoms the same as you would at home. Encourage rest and fluids, much as you would at home. Take advantage of the helpful items you have in your child's travel kit, and try to all put your feet up if you can.
If your child gets a high fever, a fever that persists, or you need advice on over-the-counter remedies you haven't used for your child before, contact your doctor's office or advice line.
If you need to find a doctor away from home, in Canada or in the U.S., you can visit the American Academy of Pediatrics online and find referrals throughout North America. Website: www.aap.org/referral.