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The Informed Parent

A Simple Medical Travel Bag

by Shanna R. Cox, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Oct. 16, 2006

Many of our families here at Pediatric Medical Center have enjoyed recent summer vacations to nearby towns, other states or even a few to more exotic transcontinental destinations. One of the most frequent questions I have been asked by parents is what medical supplies they should carry with them. There is both a specific and a more general answer to this question, depending on a child's medical history.

For a child who has a medical condition that requires daily medications or supplies, certainly these items should be a priority. Although this seems like common sense, many parents find themselves short several days of medication or without a needed supply too late when they are already traveling.

There are a few simply ways to combat these pitfalls. One way is to have a routine health/medication checklist that is carefully scrutinized prior to each trip, however short, long, near or far. This list would include counting the needed days of medication and other medical supplies, and providing for their storage.

Another option is to have a medical travel bag ready that has a standard supply of what your child needs; i.e., one month's worth. This bag would need to be replenished between every four-to-six months depending on medication expirations and use. But, in the meantime it would be ready and waiting when the hectic travel time arrived.

Inconveniences and emergencies should be anticipated by carrying at least several days medication or supplies on your person. In the event that your luggage might be lost or your flight delayed your child will not suffer, and you will not be forced to utilize unfamiliar medical care.

In the more general circumstance of a well child, parents may compose the following supplies that will handle the majority of common ill symptoms a child may experience while traveling. Here is the list of items and general uses:

  1. Tylenol: pain/fever reduction
  2. Advil: anti-inflammatory/fever reduction
  3. Neosporin Ointment: antibiotic/anti-infective for cuts/scratches
  4. Hydrocortisone 1% Cream: anti-inflammatory/anti-itch/dermatitis
  5. Benadryll: anti-histamine for allergic reaction/sedative
  6. Pepto Bismol: anti-diarrheal/stomach calming

With these items, parents will be prepared for most common problems that arise. Of course emergencies and unforeseen circumstances can occur when additional medical help may be needed. For travel to foreign countries, families should be aware of any additional health warnings of immunizations that may be required. This information may be found through the Centers for Disease Control website, by looking for the specific area of travel and its particular recommendations.

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