Tips for Traveling with Sick Kids

Can I Travel When My Kids are Sick?

When we plan to travel, we look for conflicts with work, school, doctor’s appointments, summer camps, exams, and all sorts of other life events. Unfortunately, short of avoiding allergy and flu seasons, you really can’t plan a trip that avoids sicknesses like colds and stomach bugs. When you’ve spent thousands of dollars on non-refundable tickets and lodging and taken the time off from work, the sound you dread the most, is the faint cough that comes from the direction of your child’s bedroom… 2 days before your trip. You pray that maybe some saliva went down the wrong way, sneak in and put a little Vicks on their chest to be on the safe side, but bright and early in the morning you hear, “I don’t feeeeeeel gooooood…”


So what do you do now? Colds last at least 7 days, and you will be leaving in 3…. or worse, in just a few hours. Do you travel anyway? If you are flying, the airline may take a look at your child and decide for you. Also, whether or not you decide to travel may depend on your mode of transportation, and if your child has a fever, has already started vomiting, is contagious, has diarrhea, or is having trouble breathing, flying (or traveling at all) may not be an option. The Centers for Disease Control website has more information on when you should and should not travel with various conditions. CDC Travel Health Website

What if you decide to travel, or what if your child gets sick WHILE you already traveling?

How do you prepare? Here are six things that you can do to make traveling with a sick child (or a sick you) a little easier. This post contains affiliate links.

1. Try to make a quick appointment with your child’s pediatrician. It is important to find out exactly what the problem is before you travel.   Whether or not your pediatrician still recommends traveling for your child may depend on whether it is a bacterial infection or a virus, whether it is contagious or not, or whether the illness is likely to get worse.  You can also get any prescriptions that your child needs written and filled before you leave.  Your pediatrician may say it is unsafe for your child to travel… she may say that it is just a cold, and your child is fine to travel.  It is best that you know what you are dealing with before you get on the road or in the air.

Related: When Bush Tea and Vicks Are Not Enough – Let’s Talk About HealthPlan USA

2. Travel with your own “barf bag” – In the car, on the plane, on the train, on the bus, on the ferry. If your child is already vomiting, and it shows no sign of stopping, the CDC recommends that you do not travel by air. However, you never know when someone will end up throwing up from motion sickness, stomach bugs that manifest as vomiting until you got onto the plane, etc. Sometimes the seat pocket in front of you on the flight, bus or ferry does not have the barf bag as expected, so always have a back up. Gallon size heavy duty zipper bags make the best barf bags. The unfortunate thing about them is that they are clear, so if the sight of vomit, makes you vomit, carry a paper bag to put it in. The seal keeps the smell in, and reduces the chance of spills. You can also try these Carebag Vomit Bag with Super Absorbent Pad.

3. Bring everything you may need to combat the illness and or its symptoms. Finding and purchasing medicine can be time consuming, expenses, and on some trips – near impossible. Don’t wait until you get there and spend time looking for medicine to relieve symptoms. Get everything you may need before you leave in travel quantities for your carry on and in full size quantities for your checked luggage. These Be Koool Be Koool Soft Gel Sheets For Fever Discomfort travel well and require no refrigeration, so they are an option if your little one “feels hot” but doesn’t actually have much of a fever. Don’t forget to bring a forehead and/or ear thermometer as well.

Related: Saving Money (and My Sanity) With HealthPlan USA

4. Take pain relievers, motion sickness medication, cough and cold medicine before traveling if the directions on the medication allow for it. No one wants to be confined to a small space with the person coughing and sneezing uncontrollably. It could be allergies, but no one is going to ask your medical history on the flight. Not only is it courteous to fellow passengers to take cough, cold, and allergy medicines before you travel, but the sick kid will be much more comfortable during the trip. You can also consider carrying a Childs Face Mask to keep germs away from other passengers and other travelers in your party.

5. Check your health and travel insurance before you leave. When you arrive, if the illness gets worse, your child may need medical attention. If your health and/or travel insurance doesn’t cover health care outside of a specific area or internationally, it could get REALLY expensive. Some countries will not allow you to leave without paying your medical bill in full. Your travel insurance may allow you to postpone your trip or receive care when you arrive at your destination, and it may not. I cannot stress enough how important it is to know how much coverage you have, and how much cash you would need for a treatment. U.S. Department of State Website: Medical Emergencies and Health Insurance Abroad

6. Find clinics and hospitals near where you will be staying before you leave home. If you are staying with friends or family, check to see if they are satisfied with their health care providers, and make an appointment if necessary. If you find walk in urgent care clinics that are nearby, make a note of their hours of operation, what the forms of payment and insurance that they accept, and what identification that they will need, if any, in order to treat your child.

Helpful links

Be Koool Be Koool Soft Gel Sheets For Fever Discomfort

Vicks Advanced Soothing Vapors Waterless Vaporizer (plug in)

Childs Face Mask with Disney Characters (disposable and latex free)

Innovo Forehead and Ear Thermometer (Dual Mode) *CE and FDA approved

Carebag Vomit Bag with Super Absorbent Pad

CDC Travel Health Website

U.S. Department of State Website: Medical Emergencies and Health Insurance Abroad

Have you ever had to travel with a sick child? Tell us about your experience in the comments.