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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Traveling with Children

Jennifer M discusses vaccines, travel by air, protection from the sun, and jet-lag. Originally published in Currents June 2001, Children's Corner Column.

Summer vacation is just around the corner; and no matter where you might be travling this summer, traveling with children is always an adventure! Here are some issues to consider and tips for making vacations with children enjoyable and safe for everyone.

*  Vaccines

Consult your pediatrician about vacinations if you plan on traveling with your newborn or un-immunized child, especially if you are planning travel to the Mediterranean or any place tropical. If you have decided to immunize your child, then you may need to make some alterations and/or additions to the standard immunization schedule to accomodate your travel plans.

*  Travel by Air

Flying with your children is generally safe. To prevent uncomfortable and/or painful pressure from building up in a child's not yet fully developed sinus cavities, be sure to give him/her something to drink or chew on during take-off and landing. Children with severe colds or respiratory system infections should not travel by air if at all possible. Not all airlines allow car seats to be installed in airline seats; be sure to verify ahead of time if you plan on taking a car seat on board. Be sure to bring some favorite toys and at least one new toy; bring them out one at a time as necessary to keep children interested.

*  Protection from the Sun

Just about anywhere one travels away from Hamburg is warmer and sunnier so be sure to use adequate sun protection for your children. Sun hats and light, loose clothing are a must in hot climates. Also be sure to coat your children with sunscreen produced for children of the hightest protection factor. It has been scienfitically proven that the number of melanoma an adult has corresponds directly to the number of sunburns suffered as a child. Protect your child from sun stroke by avoiding the midday sun whenever possible and giving your child plenty of fluids. Avoid fluids containing sugar. Although beverages containing sugar seem initially thirst-quenching, they, in fact, increase your thirst and increase the chances of dehydration.

*  How to Reduce Jet Lag

A trip four to six hours minus Hamburg time will take your body about two days for adjustment. A trip eight to ten hours minus Hamburg time will take about four days. Begin a few days before your trip by adjusting your sleeping and eating patterns to those more similar to your destination. This means going to bed later for trips west of Hamburg (for your return trip, go to bed earlier). Your dinner should be rich in carbohydrates, which help the body to sleep. Your breakfast should consist of protein-rich foods (eggs, meat, dairy products), which help the body stay awake. Adjust your watch prior to takeoff to the time zone of your destination to help your transition. When you arrive, spend as much time in bright light as possible. When it is normally time for your body to sleep, it releases the hormone melatonin. Exposure to bright light reduces the production of melatonin and tricks the body into thinking it is not yet time to sleep. Scientists, however, warn against taking melatonin pills as they have not yet been adequately tested. Drink a lot to avoid dehydration, but avoid alcohol and caffeine; and do not take any sleeping medication. Do not lay down to sleep at your destination when it is still daylight, even if it would normally be your bedtime according to Hamburg time.

Bon Voyage!

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