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What to Do with Sick Kids on Vacation

by Susan Finch

Feb 23, 2018

Serrnovik | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Parents are already well aware kids are germ factories that seem to pick-up endless colds and flus from school, activities and friends’ houses. But we immediately go into a deep and unbreakable denial their germs could bring down a family vacation in its tracks. If your families are avid travelers, it’s inevitable that, at some point, one of your kids (or all of them) are going to get sick on vacation. So what do you do and how to you manage the fall-out?


Play Super Sleuth

Your kid wakes up feverish, screaming about ear pain or holding their stomach and wincing. What’s next? Consider if your child tends to be a silent sufferer where even the worst pain is met with mild complaining. Meanwhile, your superhero complainer may just need a little rest and some attention.


Think about what you would do at home and how much time you have before you need to head back home from vacation. A course of Advil, a visit to urgent care or a CVS Minute Clinic and quality sleep may do the trick. And remember most all-inclusive resorts also have their own nurse or staff doctor to help take care of guests in distress.


Check Your Travel Insurance

It’s time to figure out what kind of recourse and protection you have if someone in your family is sick while traveling that could interrupt the trip. If you purchased travel insurance, you’re probably already on the phone asking about compensation and how to proceed.


However, if you haven’t purchased a travel insurance policy yet, it’s possible you can still secure one even in the middle of your trip. But it might not help out much. In the case of World Nomads, you still need to wait 72 hours after purchasing the policy before using it to get coverage due to illness.


Call Your Credit Card Company ( … with fingers crossed)

Don’t kick yourself for not having travel insurance. It turns out your credit card might cover you without even knowing it. It’s true some credit cards will only cover you in a complete and utter catastrophe, and even then the coverage is often marginal at best, but others offer solid compensation. Chase Sapphire Preferred provides up to $10,000 if your trip is canceled from sickness to weather. Even jury duty is covered. Of course, the age old advice is do your homework. Coverage can change at any time, so call and go through the details carefully with your credit card representative.


kid girl with travel suitcase

© Sharaf Maksumov | Dreamstime.com

Come Up With a Game Plan

You know your child better than anyone. If you know they just have a cold, but pressure is building steadily in their head and ears, a flight home may not be practical. A doctor’s visit can let you know if their ears are clear enough to hop on board or if the recommendation is to wait. It’s possible you can recover some of the cost of your flight through your travel insurance or credit card, though some flights will voluntarily just release you from the flight if they choose to do so. A comfortable rental car with charged-up tablets and books could be a relaxing way to get home — even with a sick kid.


Make the Most of It

If your kids seem like they’re holding steady and there’s no pressure about immediately getting on a plane, make the most of it. A stomach bug will hopefully pass within 24 hours or less and some kids can function on a cold without too much difficulty. Take it easy and make it special with lots of movies, a treat easy on the stomach like popsicles or a quick trip to a toy store. The more your kids see their illness as a small blip on the radar with some special allowances at play, the more likely they are to focus on the fun instead of the misery of reaching for the tissue box.


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