Preparing for Your Family Vacation

Dr. Taina Turcasso

We are finally heading into the warm, summer months after a long winter and many of us are planning vacations with our families. Road trips, airplanes, camping, hotels; vacations come in many different shapes and sizes. Regardless of what type of
trip you may be planning for your family,
they can be exhausting and fraught with
colds, allergies, bug bites, bee stings, tummy
trouble and so on. Though you can’t plan
for every eventuality (always plan to be
surprised, right?), you can prepare yourself
so you will be better able to manage the
surprises that pop up on your trip, and
possibly even prevent some of them. Here
are five ways you can plan ahead to make
your family vacation happier and healthier
for everyone.

Happy Meals
Food is probably the biggest consideration when planning a vacation. We are lucky to live in (and often travel to) places where food is available anywhere and anytime, but convenience does not equal quality. In preparation for your trip, plan meals ahead of time and pack healthy, whole foods with you for your trip. If you will be road-tripping, bring sandwiches, pre-cut veggies and dip, fruit, and healthier options. If camping, map out where you can stop for meals and where you can buy your groceries. If you are flying, pack portable snacks like dehydrated fruit, oatmeal that reconstitutes with the addition of hot water, crackers, and gummy snacks. Plan at least one splurge meal out because it is a holiday, after all.

Keep it Clean
Though we are provided with cleaning products in most hotels, bathrooms, and laundromats, travelling with your own products will ensure that you and your family don’t have any reactions to using different products and more importantly, that you have them when you need them. Bring your own shampoo/conditioner, laundry pods, liquid soap, toothpaste, and lotion, avoiding products with fragrances and toxic ingredients. Buy a little packet of eco-friendly wipes (baby wipes work) to use in a pinch.

Guard Yourself
When travelling, we are often exposed to a lot of different viruses and often they are bugs our systems aren’t used to. If your immune system is working at top speed, you have a lower chance of picking up any of these bugs and having them ruin your vacation. Keep your family’s immunity boosted by taking extra vitamin C prior to and during your travels, carry echinacea or elderberry to take during periods of increased exposure (like airplane travel or if someone around you is sick), take your vitamin D, and ensure you get adequate sleep. As always, keeping your hands clean is paramount to avoiding infection, and can
be trickier while traveling, so ensure you have wipes and a small bottle of liquid soap to wash those hands regularly.

iPads and other types of tablets are a
terrific invention, and work like a charm
in a pinch when you have an unhappy
traveller (of any age), but are not ideal on
the daily (and they won’t work as well
in a pinch if they are the usual form of
entertainment), so plan a variety of cheap
and portable entertainment options for
your trip. Have your kids pick some books,
and bring some music and games to play
as a family. Pick a few movies to enjoy
together for “movie night.” Encourage
older kids to keep a journal of the holiday
and send a few postcards to family
members or friends back at home. Keep
their brains engaged in the time you are
spending together, and introduce them to
something new that down the road will
always remind them of your trip.
It’s summer and there are bugs everywhere.
Mosquitoes, wasps, bees…. luckily to most
of us, these pests are a minor nuisance but
to some their stings can be lethal. Find
out what diseases mosquitoes carry in the
area you are traveling to (in Canada we are
pretty lucky but the same is not true of
warmer climates) and protect your family
accordingly. Here we can get by with a
natural topical mosquito repellant made of
a combination of essential oils. If anyone in
your family is allergic to bee stings, ensure
that you are carrying both benadryl and an
EpiPen, if appropriate. Always check the
expiration date of medications, especially
before vacations, and ensure that you
know the appropriate dose and method of
Whatever it is that you and your family
decide to do together - even if it is simply
staying home and enjoying Fernie in its
summer splendor - stay safe and enjoy
every moment. Summer is short.