Thinking of traveling soon? Consider your health as well as what you pack

Monday, February 27th, 2017

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Last year our family flew to Mexico. It was quite a glorious trip. We played at the beach, we ate almost every 30 minutes, and we were able to swim and sip drinks from poolside for an entire week.

And as my kids will tell you, since then “we haven’t done anything at all that is fun and can we please go back to Mexico because I am so bored of our house.”

dad and daughter jump in pool

In the spirit of fairness, they are right. It is way more fun to go traveling than it is to play Jenga for more than seven days in a row. But as anyone who has been fortunate enough to travel before knows, there is more to travelling than packing extra pairs of underwear and jumping into the car. You are going to remember to pack all those pairs of underwear, and you sure will not forget to pack plenty of time wasting devices for your kids (seriously, do not forget this), but it is extra important that when you make the decision to leave, you make time to think about your health.

So, a few things to think of when preparing both mentally and physically for your vacation:

Make sure your vaccinations are up to date

“I think I remember getting the kids into the doctor a few years ago for some kind of shots. Maybe even two different shots,” is not the best way to approach vaccines leading up to a trip.

Parents can check out the vaccination schedule at ontario.ca/vaccines. Here you’ll find an easy-to-use immunization scheduler to help you remember and keep up with your doctor appointments.

As a parent, I admit to having at best what I’d refer to as an “okay” memory. There’s a lot of stuff that happens in a day, let alone a week, month, or year. Most vaccines need more than one dose over time to produce full protection. So follow the immunization schedule for the best protection with the fewest doses of each vaccine.

Remember that your family’s health impacts more than just your family

From the time the December holidays arrive right on through to spring break, there can be a lot of travel to see a lot of different places. Often this means a trip to see family or friends but can also include out of country travel.

You may think “well I never get sick so I’m going to sail through this vacation without getting sick, wahoo!” But, not everyone has the same immune system. There is a good chance that no matter what vacation or trip you plan, you will spend time with others who are at higher-risk for serious illnesses (like babies or those who have compromised immune systems).

When too many people delay or refuse vaccines, more cases of serious diseases can be spread. Choosing to vaccinate your child protects them from disease and protects vulnerable children who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.

daughter on the beach

You can’t be an expert in everything, consult the experts

And because you aren’t expected to be an expert on all things vaccination, but should have access to that information should you need it, talk to your family doctor or healthcare provider for any questions you have. Or, you can visit ontario.ca/vaccines for more information on recommended vaccines for your family.

Visit it as often as you’d like. There are no bonus rewards for doing so but you’ll sure learn a lot about vaccinations.

Have fun on your trip

Good luck. Seriously. I know how hard it can be to sit in an airport for five hours or to drive in a car for eight. You are going to question the whole point behind going on vacations a few times but in ten years from now you will look back on these lovingly.

Remind yourself of that. Often.

dad as anne in pei

This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions of the author are their own.

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