family loading up car for vacation Summer vacation season is upon us! Before you head out for a summer trip — whether for a day trip to an area attraction, a weekend at the beach or a longer trip to someplace far-flung — it’s important to plan ahead to stay healthy and safe and to be prepared for the unexpected.

“As a mom, I know that between packing, planning, snacks and schedules, traveling with children can be overwhelming,” says Anjuli S. Gans, MD, a pediatrician at CHOP’s Karabots Pediatric Care Center in West Philadelphia. “Having some health essentials on hand will help you feel prepared for any medical emergencies during your trip.”

While you may not be able to plan for every vacation emergency, you can arm yourself with the tools needed to meet most challenges. Dr. Gans uses this checklist to help with her planning and packing.

To do before leaving:

  • Create contact cards for each child to carry with the child’s health information, including insurance information and any allergies and medications. Tuck it into a pocket each morning.
  • For international travel, talk to your pediatrician about immunizations or medications.
  • Research where the nearest emergency room is located just in case you need it.

Remember to pack:

  • Sunscreen and sun-protective clothing, such as hats and sunglasses
  • Bug repellent
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Clean water
  • Basic first aid supplies, including alcohol wipes, bandages, tweezers and hydrocortisone
  • Over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and antihistamines
  • Any prescription medicines that your child takes. Be sure to pack enough for your entire trip, plus a day or two in case you’re delayed. Always bring the medication in its original prescription container so the medication name, dose and prescribing doctor are clearly readable.
  • Healthy and hydrating snacks. Peanuts, almonds and other nuts make great outdoor food, assuming no one in your family has a nut allergy. Fruit is a healthy, portable and tasty treat for outings — try grapes frozen overnight or fruit kababs on toothpicks or skewers. Cheese, especially individually wrapped sticks, is a good go-to snack option.

Planning a safe and healthy family vacation can take some work, but the rewards are worth it. You get to spend time with people you love, pursue activities you enjoy, and have the opportunity to try new things — all with less worry.

And if your child gets sick or hurt, don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician. Your child’s doctor is available to answer your questions, offer advice and ensure your children get the care they need, no matter how far from home you may roam.

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