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Other Germ-Fighting Travel Tips

  • Hotels. One study found that when people with colds stayed overnight in hotel rooms, many surfaces remained contaminated with rhinovirus for at least a day. But how concerned should you be? Health experts point out that most hotel rooms are better cleaned than most homes. Towels and sheets are changed daily, and the room is cleaned somewhat every day. Still, experts suggest wiping down remote controls, light switches, telephones, doorknobs, toilet seat handles, faucet handles, and other high-touch areas as a precaution when traveling with children.
  • Amusement parks. Be careful what you eat. Avoid food that may have been sitting out for a long time. Since you can't wipe down germy surfaces at amusement parks, hand hygiene is especially important.
  • Swimming pools and water parks. Have kids rinse off before and after taking the plunge at pools and water parks. These can be breeding grounds for pinkeye (conjunctivitis), skin viruses, and cryptosporidium and giardia, which cause diarrhea. Chlorination does not kill all bacteria. Also teach young children to avoid swallowing water in pools and water parks.

General Wellness Tips for Traveling Children

Too many treats, not enough sleep, and being on the go can wear down children's immunity. This can make them more vulnerable to illness. These strategies can help kids stay healthy on the road:

  • Encourage children to drink liquids.
  • Stick closely to your child's normal, healthy diet. This not only gives kids nutrients to help fight infection -- it can also help prevent diarrhea or constipation, which children are prone to when traveling. Consider bringing your kids' favorite healthy foods on road trips or airplanes instead of buying fast food or snacks.
  • Don't skimp on sleep. Sticking to your children's normal bedtime and naptime will help them sleep better. Packing favorite stuffed animals or blankets can also help children sleep in strange places so they get enough rest.

Whatever strategies you use to keep harmful bacteria at bay, try to keep germs and illness in perspective. It's not uncommon for healthy children, especially under age 5, to get several colds a year -- and usually not from strangers on the road. Most often infections come from the people we love.

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