Traveling With A Sick Child

Traveling With A Sick Child:

Back in early 2010, when Tiny had just turned one year old, I had to travel to make a presentation for a former client of mine. I had committed to doing this presentation before Tiny was born and although I had left my job and was a stay-at-home-mom, I did not want to let my former client down.

The original plan was for me to fly down in the morning, make the presentation, then fly back that night.  Tiny would stay with my mom and I would have plenty of pumped milk on hand for her. This plan flew by the wayside once I realized that Tiny was never going to drink from a bottle. Therefore, she had to come with me.

My mom and I decided to make it easier by flying in the night before. This way, we would not be rushed and in case of delays, I wasn’t struggling with a toddler in tow.

Everything was going according to plan until the day before we were supposed to leave. Tiny came down with a horrifying intestinal virus. Honestly, my poor little baby was expelling more liquidy poop than I could wrap my brain around. No sooner would I change her diaper and she would be covered from head to toe.

I called my former client and gave him the bad news. There was no way I was going to be able to go. Unfortunately, my pulling out at the last minute was going to cause all kinds of issues and I felt horrible. Since Tiny did not have a fever and was in a generally good mood, I talked it over with my mom and we agreed to still make the trip. Yes, we were getting on an airplane with a one year old who had explosive diarrhea! Willingly. (I have never claimed to be sane).

I learned a lot from that short trip. First – traveling with a really sick child is possible. It is not ideal, but it is doable.

Second, I learned that I will never do it again. Because Tiny’s immune system was already compromised, she ended up catching another illness on top of the intestinal virus as a result of our travels. So yeah – mama guilt to the max. Nothing is more important that keeping a sick child home unless it truly cannot be helped!

In the spirit of my travels with a sick toddler, here are my personal suggestions for what to do and what to have on hand when you are traveling with a sick child. I am not a licensed medical professional nor do I play one on this site so please do not take a single thing I write here to be bonafide medical advice. Whatever I share here is based on my personal experience, research, and possibly the experience of others. I am not making any medical claims. So take what I write and consult with your trusted practitioner before making any changes. Some of the links may be affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my blog!

  • Make sure that you have plenty of towels, washcloths, napkins, wipes, etc… Although I am not a proponent of paper products and single use products, I advise anyone traveling with a sick child to bring paper towels, paper tissues, and old rags that can just go into the garbage.
  • If your child is in diapers and you use cloth, switch to disposables if your child has any elimination issues associated with the illness.  I stubbornly packed cloth diapers for our trip. I quickly found the nearest store and purchased a pack of disposables.
  • Have water bottles and wet wipes/diaper wipes available for general clean up. If your child throws up everywhere or has traveling poop, then you will need some extra assistance with clean up. Don’t assume you will have easy access to water.
  • Pack tons of ziplock bags in all sizes! These might be used to catch barf, pack up messy towels, pack up soiled clothing, etc…
  • Have several changes of clothes and several types of clothes. If your child is dressed warmly but develops a fever, you may want to choose something a little more cooling. (Read Childhood Fevers for some tips on supporting a fever).
  • If you are flying, make sure you know the TSA rules for liquids in your carryon.  You will be very limited!
  • If you are traveling by plane, train, or boat, do not expect other passengers to be understanding. Be prepared for them to actually be rather disgruntled. Have face masks on hand if your child is contagious. As rough as it might be to get your child to wear one, it is the polite thing to do.
  • Plan ahead and allow yourself tons of extra time. You may have to make a lot of stops!
  • Make sure you research nearby hospitals or medical offices in the event that your child needs to be seen while you are away from home.
  • Bring as many comforts from home as possible. Favorite toys, music, books, blankets, pillows, etc… will all help your child to feel more safe and secure.
  • Hand sanitizer or waterless soap to help keep germs a bay are a must.
  • Have copious amounts of coconut water available for hydration. Nothing works faster or more effectively than coconut water. Although I am not an advocate of flavored coconut waters (as they contain sugars), if that is the only way to get your child to stay hydrated then go for it. And of course, if your child is breastfeeding, offer the boob as much as you can!
  • Hyland’s Bioplasma Cell Salts (two tablets four times a day) are very effective at keeping your water-salt ratio in check. These are extremely beneficial during bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Uriel’s Thuja Thymus (4 drops four times a day) is a fabulous product that kicks the immune response into high gear! Since the immune system is stressed by travel on top of the illness, it is important to support is as much as possible.
  • For colds – Boiron Cold Calm, as directed can help relieve runny noses and sneezing.
  • For flu – Hylands Flu Reliever as directed and Boiron Oscillococcinum as directed can really help with the body aches and general discomfort. 
  • Herbs For Kids Elderberry Syrup is another great product to help support the immune system.
  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil/High Vitamin Butter Oil Blend from Green Pastures in the chocolate crème flavor (Tiny takes a teaspoon of this every day, in sickness and in health!) This will have such a positive effect in helping to knock out the illness and keep other germy invaders away! If your child will not take the oil off the spoon, rub it on their hind quarters. It absorbs quickly and works just as well.
  • Coconut oil – of course! I know that I do not have to go into detail here because by now you are all experts in its healing powers. But just in case you are not, check out 333 Uses For Coconut Oil. Try to get at least 2 tablespoons into your child each day!
  • If you are driving and can pack a cooler, bring nourishing foods like homemade broth, chicken, squash, and yogurts.

For some additional ideas on supporting a child through illness, please visit my post Children and Illness.

What suggestions do you have for traveling with a sick child?

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  1. says

    Hi Jenn,
    Thanks for your post!
    Travelling with a sick child can indeed be challenging. Even a common cold is a pain when you’re flying. We’ve had to do it several times.

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing your tips about travelling with a sick child, they may come in really handy one day and are worth considering. Another use for cococnut oil, that stuff really is amazing!

  3. says

    Thanks for the tips. I have flown with one child throwing up before and it was pretty difficult, but the airline wouldn’t change my ticket without paying an additional several hundred dollars (which I didn’t have) so we went for it. It is funny looking back, but I was horrified and way underprepared at the time. Hopefully these tips will help someone before an sick incident. :)

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