Skip to main content

A parent's guide to holiday travel and staying healthy

Oct 17, 2017 11:55AM

By Amanda Dolega, MSN, FNP

Thanksgiving and the winter holidays create many of our best family memories.  It’s also the time of year when long car rides, cross country air travel and large family gatherings disrupt our children’s normal routines making them more susceptible to sickness and fatigue.

They often overeat, sleep less – especially when staying up late and crossing time zones – and spend fewer hours outdoors where they have a chance to unwind and get some exercise.
Taking preventive steps and preparing in advance can help to ensure a healthy holiday for your children and your entire family.

Motion sickness
A sick child on an airplane or in the back seat of the car can make traveling unpleasant, but there are steps you can take to minimize any symptoms.

Normally, your child’s brain senses movement by getting signals from the inner ear, eyes, muscles and joints.  When there is unnatural, repeated movement and those signals don’t match, nausea, dizziness, headaches and sweating can occur.

Motion sickness of this kind is most likely to occur in youngsters ages 2 to 12.

Prevention starts in advance with your children’s diet.  Stick to light meals before and during travel and avoid greasy and fatty foods.

Smart choices in seating can also make a difference.  While most children need to sit in the rear seat of the car, make sure they can see the road over or between seats. The center of the back seat or middle row of a minivan offer the best view of the front windshield.
Seats over the wings of a plane and at the front of the train provide the most stability, while the center of a ship at the waterline is the best choice for cruise ship staterooms.

Books and movies are a great way to pass time when traveling, but for children prone to motion sickness, they can trigger nausea very quickly. In this case, music and books on tape are the best choice.

If your child does become nauseous and you are not able to stop for some fresh air, open the windows and have them close their eyes and recline as much as possible.  Dry crackers and ginger ale may help settle their stomach.

Over-the-counter and prescription strength medicines are a good recommendation when your child has exhibited past issues with motion sickness.  Pay attention to directions. Dramamine — available in chewable tablets — should be taken one hour prior to travel.  Prescription patches, which I often prescribe for my patients at MinuteClinic, should be applied behind the ear four hours in advance.

Prevent the flu
A bout of the flu passing among family members will put a damper on any holiday celebration.  And this year could be a particularly bad year for the virus based on flu activity in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere according to the CDC.  Often what happens there is a predictor for what will occur in North America.

Flu shots, available for children six months and above, are available now from your pediatrician, pharmacies or retail clinic locations.  It’s important to get vaccinated as soon as possible since it takes at least two weeks to build up immunity.

The well-stocked travel bag
Preparation and packing prior to any holiday trip should include a few common medicines in the event a family member becomes ill.

Smart choices include a pain reliever and multi-symptom cold medicine for children in liquid or chewable form; a child appropriate anti diarrheal, especially since changes in travel and water are common triggers; and adhesive strips with anti-bacterial ointment for cuts and scrapes.

Remember that you can always save a little money by buying store brand medications.

Tips when you arrive at your destination
When parents ask me what they can do to help keep their children healthy during holiday travel, I encourage them to build in some “healthy” activity as a way of bonding with other family members.

If it’s not too cold, a morning bike ride, neighborhood walk or hike at a nearby park is great exercise for all generations.  For large families, a flag football game or soccer match creates some friendly competition and physical activity.

Proper sleep is also critical for children.  Be sure to build in some nap time and account for any lost hours resulting from plane travel.  Restrict time with mobile devices and video games to encourage sleep.

Good nutrition is more important than ever.  The holidays are a time for sweets, so a fresh fruit basket is the perfect hostess gift for everyone to enjoy.  Giving children smaller portions will help slow them down and prevent overeating.

Lastly, don’t forget about yourself.  The grandparents will be happy to see their grandchildren, so build in some mom and dad time and have fun!

Amanda Dolega is a nurse practitioner at the MinuteClinic inside the CVS Pharmacy store in Lakewood. 

Health Health

It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • Pumpkin pies will be awarded to the top finisher of each age group and the top overall 3 finisher...


  • Thanksgiving Buffet

    11/23/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    Featuring their chef's herb-crusted prime rib, butternut squash bisque, brown butter mashed potat...


  • Thanksgiving Food & Fellowship

    11/23/2017
    12:00PM — 03:00PM

    The Lake County YMCA will be hosting its annual free community Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, N...


  • Black Friday Membership Event

    11/24/2017
    09:00AM

    You're already spending the money, so why not spend it wisely?! Come in Black Friday and join ...


  • Turkey Trottin’ Scavenger Hunt

    11/25/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Pay attention to this clue: On a rhyming scavenger hunt you will go to uncover turkey facts you d...


It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • Pumpkin pies will be awarded to the top finisher of each age group and the top overall 3 finisher...


  • Thanksgiving Buffet

    11/23/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    Featuring their chef's herb-crusted prime rib, butternut squash bisque, brown butter mashed potat...


  • Thanksgiving Food & Fellowship

    11/23/2017
    12:00PM — 03:00PM

    The Lake County YMCA will be hosting its annual free community Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, N...


  • Black Friday Membership Event

    11/24/2017
    09:00AM

    You're already spending the money, so why not spend it wisely?! Come in Black Friday and join ...


  • Turkey Trottin’ Scavenger Hunt

    11/25/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Pay attention to this clue: On a rhyming scavenger hunt you will go to uncover turkey facts you d...


  • 32nd annual Beary Merry Handmade Christmas Market

    11/29/2017
    11:00AM — 09:00PM

    The show will benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure Northeast Affiliate. The promise of Susan G. K...


  • 32nd annual Beary Merry Handmade Christmas Market

    11/30/2017
    11:00AM — 09:00PM

    The show will benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure Northeast Affiliate. The promise of Susan G. K...


  • Home for The Holidays

    11/30/2017
    11:00AM — 04:00PM

    The perfect start to this year’s holiday season can be found at the Lake County History Center in...


  • Winter Holiday Sale & Open House

    12/01/2017
    10:00AM — 08:00PM

    Still have holiday shopping to do? Want to know what Valley Art Center is all about? Come to our ...


  • Home for The Holidays

    12/01/2017
    11:00AM — 04:00PM

    The perfect start to this year’s holiday season can be found at the Lake County History Center in...


  • Home for The Holidays

    12/02/2017
    11:00AM — 04:00PM

    The perfect start to this year’s holiday season can be found at the Lake County History Center in...


  • Holiday CircleFest

    12/02/2017
    12:00PM — 05:00PM

    As the weather turns cool and the snow begins to fall, University Circle transforms into the ulti...


  • Sensitive Santa

    12/03/2017
    08:30AM — 10:30AM

    Sensitive Santa is a private event designed for children and young adults with special needs and ...


  • Wildwood Holiday Craft Show

    12/03/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Many wonderful holiday items for sale from over 25 vendors including wreaths and swags, gingerbre...


  • Holiday Boutique

    12/03/2017
    10:00AM — 03:00PM

    Kick off your holiday shopping at the Little Italy Art Walk and stroll into the Alta House to fin...


  • Holiday CircleFest

    12/03/2017
    01:00PM — 07:00PM

    As the weather turns cool and the snow begins to fall, University Circle transforms into the ulti...


  • Holiday Tour of Homes

    12/03/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Six historic locations will be open and on display by the Downtown Painesville Organization to ce...


  • Deck The House

    12/05/2017
    05:30PM — 09:30PM

    Join in for the best holiday party in town while also raising money to help local children in cri...


  • Santa's Wild Workshop in the Woods

    12/06/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Children ages 3–12 can catch the Wildwood Express to Santa’s Magical Workshop at the City of Ment...


  • Santa's Wild Workshop in the Woods

    12/08/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Children ages 3–12 can catch the Wildwood Express to Santa’s Magical Workshop at the City of Ment...


  • Christmas Tea at the History Center

    12/09/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Reservations are now being taken for the “A Little Bit of Magic Christmas Tea” at the Lake County...


  • Santa's Wild Workshop in the Woods

    12/09/2017
    02:00PM — 04:00PM

    Children with special needs, ages 3–12, can catch the Wildwood Express to Santa’s Magical Worksho...


  • Live Nativity

    12/09/2017
    04:30PM — 06:30PM

    The community is invited to join St. Gabriel’s Live Nativity on December 9 & 10. Live animals and...


  • Santa's Wild Workshop in the Woods

    12/09/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Children ages 3–12 can catch the Wildwood Express to Santa’s Magical Workshop at the City of Ment...


  • Live Nativity

    12/10/2017
    07:00AM — 02:00PM

    The community is invited to join St. Gabriel’s Live Nativity on December 9 & 10. Live animals and...


  • Christmas Train and Toy Show

    12/10/2017
    10:00AM — 03:30PM

    Come to the Christmas Train and Toy Show and see over 200 dealers with model trains of all gauges...


  • Breakfast with Santa

    12/10/2017
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Bring the kiddies and the entire family to enjoy a delicious breakfast and opportunity to let San...


  • Gingerbread House Decorating

    12/10/2017
    02:00PM — 04:00PM

    Build your very own Gingerbread House for the holidays. They provide all the "building" materials...


  • Lunch with Santa

    12/10/2017
    02:00PM — 04:00PM

    Can't make their Breakfast With Santa event? Then your family is invited your family to join in f...


  • Live Nativity

    12/10/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The community is invited to join St. Gabriel’s Live Nativity on December 9 & 10. Live animals and...