Making plans to hit the highway this summer? When preparing for a family vacation, parents should include these essential items, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Be ready in case a fever spikes or an insect stings by packing a first aid kit that includes:

  • acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches, pains and fever;

  • non-stick bandages, gauze, tape and antibiotic ointment for cuts and blisters;

  • antihistamines for allergies and rashes;

  • tweezers, small scissors and other often-used first aid tools; and

  • prescription medication for your child and your pediatrician’s phone number.

If vacation plans include outdoor activities, be sure to pack extra sunscreen, brimmed hats and sunglasses with 100% ultraviolet protection. Even with these precautions, the AAP suggests keeping children away from the sun’s direct rays as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

When visiting crowded places such as amusement parks, zoos or ball parks, parents should take extra steps to make sure their children do not get separated from the family.

Keep photos of children on hand and know their height and weight. Children should know their parents’ full names and what to do if they get separated from them (e.g., ask a park employee for help). Parents also can designate a common meeting place if someone gets separated from the group.

Finally, if traveling with young children, try to stick to regular sleep and nap schedules to make the transition back home easier. Pack a familiar blanket or stuffed animal to help your child sleep when away from home.

When planning your itinerary, be sure to include downtime. Too often, families try squeezing too much into their vacation, and their time together becomes stressful, not relaxing.


©2010 American Academy of Pediatrics. This information may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.