My family and I leave for our annual trip to the United States to visit my American family in two days. After living in France for 13 years and travelling with kids now for 10 of those years, I have become quite efficient at packing and preparing for any eventualities on our trip and doing my best to keep us healthy before, during and after the trip. We have had some memorable but not very fun moments on the plane, diarrhea on multiple trips, vomiting, and a two day layover in another city due to a blizzard where we were supposed to land. From my learning experience, I am sharing my tips for staying healthy and being stress free while on vacation.
Preparation and packing
• Keep a travel journal (I use it for packing lists, lists of what to bring everyone, and what to buy and bring back from the US, along with activities we do from year to year with phone numbers, opening and closing times, etc.). Every year I bring out the same journal with my lists so I don’t have to think ‘hmm what do I need to bring’.
• Prepare everything to go into the suitcases a few days in advance but do the actual packing just the day before and don’t let your husband help! I find the time I have packed things in the suitcase too far in advance I can’t remember what I put in them, then my husband throws things in there as well, then I am really lost and I can’t find anything!
• Another hint – bring less than you think you actually need (easier said than done but worth trimming the suitcase down especially since we are only allowed 23kg these days anyway).
• Keep the passports, tickets, any other booking info for the trip, important phone numbers and addresses, and extra snap shot of each child (in case they get lost in the airport – I am very paranoid) all in one folder along with a pen.
• From personal experience of losing my passport – keep a copy of passports along with copies of credit card info and such with someone you trust in case those important things are lost or stolen.
• Pack the folder of passports and such along with any Ziploc bags with liquids and electronic equipment preferably in one bag if possible to make it easier to slip things in and out for security checks.
Since everyone but my husband has asthma and allergies (i.e. resulting in a lower immune function to ward off illness), I make sure that we are eating healthy and not hanging around anyone who is ill just before our trip. Knowing that we will be traveling in the airports where millions of people pass every day and on the plane where we spend many hours travelling in a confined space, I take extra care to make sure we have healthy food to eat, that we wash our hands, A LOT, and drink plenty of water. To pass the time (especially after having kids), we walk the aisles and head to the toilet quite often. Here is what I pack to have on hand when we are not so healthy and what to pack to for healthy snacks.
Since we are fortunate enough to live in a country where medicine and medical care is much cheaper than in the United States, I always make sure to bring everything we need just in case. I have found when I do not, and then one of us gets sick while we are vacationing, well, it’s expensive to be treated in the U.S. and to buy the medicine there. Plus when we have a layover and we are in need of something for my son’s belly not feeling so good (happened last year), it is best to have what we need on hand.
Some may call me paranoid but here is my typical stash of medicine for the ‘just in case’ moments on the plane and also if our luggage is lost, we have the essentials with us:
• All allergy and asthma medication (Seretide inhaler, Singular, Claritin, Anapen, Ventolin inhaler) along with the actual prescription – In London I was asked once for the prescription plus an official translation!
• Doliprane (paracetamol) for fevers, overall achiness
• Medication to soothe an upset belly
• Tea Tree oil, Lavender oil and Theives Young Living Oil for antiseptic, antiviral properties
• Anti-bacterial gel and wipes
I also pack
• Water bottles so we can fill them up and avoid having a plastic cup setting on the tray ready to spill at any jarring movement.
• Fresh apples
• Dried fruit and nuts
• Natural gummy snacks
In order to deal better with jet lag, it is important to eat healthy foods, and not too much, drink plenty of water and to sleep. Flying and travelling in general is tiring especially over several time zones so if when we are able, we sleep on the plane optimally at times closer to the time zone you are travelling to. Unfortunately I rarely sleep on the plane except maybe that last half hour before we land. When we arrive, we do our best to get into the rhythm of the local time right away. It’s too easy to sleep in until noon but it will take that much longer to get over jet lag! Getting outside as much as possible in the sunlight to adjust the melatonin levels is important for the sleeping rhythm as well. The outside air and sun will give us extra energy that we might not have if we are just sitting inside. Lastly I always try to get a massage within the first week after the plane ride to get out all the kinks from sitting in the plan for so long and hauling luggage.
Wish us all a safe and happy journey!