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For those who don't follow the yearly predictions of that famous groundhog in Punxsutawney PA, it looks like we will be experiencing a few more weeks of winter this season. For some, this is welcome news! For others who are currently getting pounded by snowstorm after snowstorm and are eagerly awaiting the spring thaw, a brief change in climate may be just the thing to survive the next month or so. Perhaps the kids are getting a little case of cabin fever, and everyone's nerves are a little frayed? How about rounding up the crew and heading to warmer climates for brief respite from the winter weather? I offer a few tips to make the experience the enjoyable one that everyone is hoping for.

Traveler's diarrhea is a common condition and is typically caused by pathogens acquired from improperly prepared food or untreated water. It is not always possible to avoid this unpleasant condition, but it can be prevented by only drinking bottled water or carbonated beverages, or only liquids that have been boiled. Depending on where you are going, consider bringing along water purification tablets if access to clean water will be a problem, especially if you have an infant who may be drinking formula. Also, make sure foods are cooked completely if you venture off the beaten path and avoid eating any local produce without properly washing it first or peeling it yourself. Hand sanitizer will save you a lot of trouble, so bring along plenty, especially for those little hands!

Don't forget that other sources of water can also be a source of infection or other problems - in particular, the kind you swim in! Avoid dirty looking beaches and swimming pools, and make sure you your little ones have protective footwear on before wading in the water to avoid cuts from hidden debris or stings from the local aquatic wildlife.

If you are planning on traveling to an exotic locale, I recommend checking the CDC website for traveler's health to see if there are any local diseases you need to be aware of. The website will also list any vaccines that you may have to get prior to traveling. Some vaccines are not safe for children of certain ages so be sure to check with your pediatrician before they receive any of them. It is also a good idea to make sure everyone is current with routine immunizations, such as tetanus, before traveling.

If your children have any underlying medical conditions that will require bringing along medications, make sure you carry your medication in your carry-on luggage and have a copy of your prescription or a doctor's note when going through customs. Depending on where you are going, consider checking with their pediatrician to see if they recommend bringing along any other medications such as antibiotics.

A few other things to consider since you are hopefully travelling somewhere sunny and warm: make sure you bring along plenty of sunscreen, and use it frequently! It may seem obvious, but many a vacation has been ruined by that sunburn acquired that first day out on the beach. I recommend applying it liberally and more often than what is recommended on the label (even if it says 'waterproof', or that it lasts for 'x' number of hours). Heat illness is another thing to avoid as you start to thaw out - make sure you are drinking plenty of clean, purified water while basking in the sun. For the kiddos, make sure there is some shade available so they can cool off from time to time, and make sure there are plenty of drinks and snacks available for them.

As with any adventure, planning ahead for possible contingencies will save a lot of hassle and stress. Hopefully, medical services will not be required on the trip, but do some research before you go, especially if travelling to a less-developed region. Resort destinations may have a local physician or health care provider on-site, or can direct you to the appropriate clinic for medical care. Another consideration is vaccinations recommended for the region to which you are traveling. Your own primary care provider, or a travel clinic, should be able to help with this.

Travel safe and have a great trip!

Posted on April 7, 2015

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