The holidays are a happy time. But with all the entertaining, travel and late nights with close family, this time also ends up being quite stressful. I often make a trip and go back to India to visit grandparents and the extended family. It’s a long flight from Toronto for sure but the kids have been making this trip since they were 5 weeks old. At 11 and 6 today, they have more air miles under their belt than many adults in their 30s.
But just because my kids are experienced travellers it doesn’t mean that I can let my guard down as far as travel health and safety is concerned. My preparation usually starts with a checklist which helps make sure our time of joy and celebration isn’t ruined by a serious illness.
5 Steps to a Happy, Healthy Holiday Season
- I usually start with an appointment with the family doctor a few weeks before travel. It helps to do your research about your travel destination before this meeting. Have your questions ready so that your doctor is able to guide you before the start of your journey.
- Check your vaccination schedule and compare it to what you know about your destination. Different countries have different diseases making the news. Travelling to the States? Surprisingly measles is of concern. Travelling further? In India it’s polio that is making a comeback in parts of South Asia. Fortunately, routine vaccinations for babies, children and adults are free in Ontario and many provinces in Canada. These routine vaccines cover many diseases that that my kids need protection from. Diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and even chicken pox. All I have to do is stick to the schedule, and keep track.
- Make a list of essentials that may be needed for the journey, and pack them to take along with you. This includes a reliable thermometer and band aids, of course. And Tylenol, Advil, anti-histamines, nasal saline, Vitamin C and anything else that is frequently used from your medicine cabinet. If you’re travelling by air, decide what may be needed on the plane. As long as it is in bottles <100ml it can go in your cabin baggage. Wandering the streets of a new city looking for an open pharmacy as soon as you land is not the best way to start your vacation. Been there! Done that!
- It’s holiday time but you can’t take a break from personal hygiene. Good habits like washing hands, and sneezing and coughing in your elbow are even more important when you are surrounded by lots of family, friends and hugs. A healthy holiday season does not include the spreading of harmful germs and viruses.
- Which brings me to the most important habit that is neglected in our family when there’s excitement – sleep! With all the family visits and entertaining, I find it really difficult to hold on to a regular sleep schedule for the kids (and myself!). We stay up late and wake up early to meet at the breakfast table. As a result, the kids are cranky and tired over days, and this fatigue takes a toll on our health. Creating and following a regular sleep schedule is an important part of remaining healthy during the holiday season.
In this time for family and festivities, I’m glad a little bit of preparation and these simple steps can help us, and those around us have a happier, healthier holiday season.
Disclaimer: This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions of the author are their own.