Whether it is your first time traveling with your kids or your a seasoned traveling parent no one wants the vacation they've been looking forward to finally arrive and bam your child is sick. Two days before we were scheduled to go to Barbados Jordyn came down with a cold; runny/stuffy nose and coughing. Of course the last thing I wanted to do was put my child in danger but it was my Mother's Day trip so if we're being honest, selfishly I was a bit bummed thinking about the fact that we may have to cancel. Now as parents we have all overcome many obstacles with a sick child but how sick is too sick to travel?
If you are driving somewhere adjusting your travel plans may not be too difficult especially if you planned on staying with friends or your hotel has a lax cancellation policy. However if you are flying somewhere and didn't purchase travel insurance cancelling or changing a flight can prove quite costly. We ended up going to Barbados and here's what we did to make that decision and to prepare ourselves for the trip.
Check With Your Pediatrician
We made an appointment with Jordyn's doctor the day before our scheduled departure. She didn't have a fever or any other symptoms and the doctor said there was no reason she couldn't go, even stating the sea water would be good for her. She recommended saline drops in the nose before taking off and she prescribed us some medication we could pick up later that day to take with us just in case her symptoms progressed. I felt at ease knowing we had the doctors blessing to travel and wouldn't recommend you traveling with a sick child without one.
Travel With Medication
Honestly even if your child isn't sick you should always travel with some basic medication in case they develop a cold on your trip. In some countries the medication you are accustomed to isn't always available or easily accessible, especially if your child comes down with a fever at 2AM. Be sure to pack any medicine in your carry-on so you can use it on your flight if need be. Medication does not have to follow TSA 3oz rule but be prepared for additional screening similar to traveling with breast milk.
Be Extra Cautious on Take Off and Landing
As you probably know the change in air pressure can pop your ears and babies and young toddlers have a hard time relieving the pressure. If your child has an ear infection you need to be even more cautious of this to prevent them from bursting an ear drum. I wouldn't fly with a child you suspect of having an ear infection without clearing it with your doctor. Once you have the go ahead having your child nurse, bottle feed, suck on a lollipop or chew and swallow something during this time will help alleviate this problem.
Hydrate More Than Ever
If traveling by air be sure to give your child more water than they are used to or nurse as often as possible. Under normal circumstance the air pressure can cause dehydration and when your little one is sick giving substantial amounts of fluid is needed even more. You are allowed to pass through security with water in a baby or toddler cup, like the medication it will have to go through additional screening. I know you can just buy some water once you pass security but I'm all about saving money and food and drink prices at the airport are outlandish. And yes they will give you unlimited water on the plane but you're usually on the plane a good 45-60mins before any service starts so I like to have my own.
Travel With Your Insurance Card/Purchase Travel Insurance
If you are traveling domestically be sure your insurance card is in your wallet in case you need to make a trip to a doctor, urgent care or ER. Be sure to call your insurance to see what if anything they cover out of your area. If your traveling overseas purchase travel insurance. While it's usually cheaper to get this at the same time you book your flight you are able to add it at any time.
Take It Easy
Depending on the mood of your sick child you might need to make some changes to your itinerary. It might take you longer to get out for the day or you may need to have an extended midday break. There could also be some activities that you need to save for your next trip. The most important thing is to make sure you aren't overexerting your child.
What If Your Child Is Too Sick To Go
If the doctor didn't give you the go ahead or you don't feel good about making the trip your options depend on how you booked your travel. If flights are involved and you purchased travel insurance you should be covered for cancelling the trip. Most travel insurance companies will require a doctor's note stating your child was too sick to travel.
If you don't have travel insurance and you bought a non-refundable ticket still call the airline. You never know the customer service agent you will get and how they may be able/willing to help. They may allow you to postpone your travel a few days or cancel altogether for a reduced fee, you never know until you ask. The same goes for a hotel or Airbnb- regardless of their cancellation fees posted it is always up to the individual company. Even if the Airbnb you booked has a strict cancellation policy it is up to the host to give you a refund, less any Airbnb fees. I know this for a fact because when my parents flight to Australia was cancelled for 3 days in a row and they would miss their entire time in Cairns their Airbnb host gave them a full refund as she felt so bad for them that their vacation was being ruined.
Have you had to travel with a sick child? What was your experience? Any tips?