We’ve all been there.
You can’t wait for winter vacation to begin! You’re getting on a plane to visit grandma and the kid’s new baby cousin. But it’s cold and flu season, and the passenger right behind you is sneezing and sniffling the whole ride over while you try to get the kids to hold their breath and keep their hands away from their faces. And like clockwork, by the next morning, the kids are running a fever and their noses are starting to run, and now you’re quarantined for days in your Airbnb while the rest of the family is out having fun.
The winter holidays are filled with wonder and joy. But unfortunately, they can also be filled with colds, flus and a variety of other illnesses. And the last thing you want to do on your long-awaited holiday vacation is spend your time either holed up in your hotel room or waiting for hours in the emergency room for your kids to be seen. So what are my tips and tricks to keep your family healthy while traveling, and to nip any illness in the bud before it can ruin your trip?
Read on for my tips to keep your family healthy this holiday and beat the winter blues. Find out exactly what remedies I bring with me for a healthy, happy vacation! And if you’d rather just cut to the chase, you can download my free guide now: Essential Winter Travel Remedy Kit
Airplane Travel Tips & Tricks
- Get a Good Night Sleep – Make sure you’ve had a good night sleep the night before (and hopefully for the week leading up to your trip!). Airport travel is chaotic this time of year, especially when you have carseats, strollers, diaper bags, and whining kids to juggle. The emotional stress of travel is enough to wear our immune systems down and make us more vulnerable to our neighbor’s coughing. So get your zzzz’s and start your travels on the right foot!
- Wipe down tray table, seat buckles, and armrests – A study looking at the dirtiest places on airplanes and at airports found that the tray table had the most germs by far of any of the 26 samples tested – almost 10 times as many colony-forming units of bacteria than even the lavatory flush button! Eeeuuuwww! So before you put your child’s snack, IPad, or art project on that tray table in front of them, wipe it down along with the other surfaces that your child may touch.
- Stay hydrated, and bring your own water – Wanna know the second germiest place at the airport? Water drinking fountain buttons! And what’s the first thing that kids do after taking a big swill from a water fountain as you’re yelling at them to NOT touch their mouth to the spigot – wipe their wet, dripping mouths with their hands! Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to stay healthy on the road, but bring your refillable water bottles and fill them up with spring water that you buy on the other side once you’ve passed the security gates. Not only will little hands be exposed to fewer germs from the water fountain button, but you’ll be sure that the water your kids are drinking is clean and safe.
- Bring healthy snacks – Be prepared and pack some healthy snacks that travel well, like baby carrots, snap peas, dried fruit, and nuts. As tempting as it may be to “bribe” your child with a pack of M&M’s or a chocolate croissant from Starbuck’s for being “good” on the plane – resist the temptation. Sugar lowers your immune system’s ability to fight off germs within 20 minutes of consumption – just as the passenger behind you starts hacking away.
- Take Oscillococcinum – Oscillococcinum is an amazing homeopathic remedy for colds and flus. But did you know that it can also help preventatively? Give yourself and each member of your family 1 vial of Oscillococcinum before getting on that plane to give everyone a quick and easy immune boost.
- Clear your nose – Stop those germs from multiplying and taking hold in the first place. Spraying your noses with Xlear nasal spray and blowing out any germs before they can grab hold is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep from getting sick in the first place! Xlear comes in a spray for older kids and adults, and in nasal drops for babies, and they’re small enough that you can carry them right on the plane in your TSA-approved quart-sized liquids bag. Spray and blow (or suck out with a bulb syringe or Nose Frida) throughout your plane ride, or at least as soon as you get off!
- Breathe – bring along your favorite immune-boosting essential oil blend, whether it’s DoTerra’s OnGuard, or Elizabeth van Buren’s Immune, or Young Living’s Thieves Oil. I literally just open the bottle and have my kids take a deep inhale. But for infants and younger kids, you can put a few drops into a small spray bottle and spray onto the bottoms of their feet, spray in the air around them, and even use to clean your tray table top!
Hopefully with these tips and tricks, you’ll manage to avoid catching anything ON the plane. But you’ve just arrived, and your winter vacation is just starting! Be prepared for whatever may come your way by leaving a little extra room in your bags to bring some supplements and natural remedies with you. The last thing you want is to be stuck in an unfamiliar place with no Whole Foods or health food store in sight when your kids are starting to fade! And maybe I’m a little superstitious, but I always think that if I HAVE these natural remedies with me, chances are I won’t need them.
Many of you have asked me what I, as a holistic pediatrician and mama, bring with me on our travels. So here it is – my ESSENTIAL winter holiday travel remedy kit!
- Probiotics –Taking a probiotic-a-day can keep tummy troubles and the flu away! 2 specific probiotic strains have been found to reduce the frequency and duration of fevers and colds/flus. These 2 strains are found in Metagenics’ Ultra Flora Children’s chewable probiotic, Metagenics’ Ultra Flora Balance probiotic capsules, and Metagenics’ Ultra Flora Synergy probiotic powder. I just bring the chewables with me so that we all take the same one. The dosage is the same for kids and adults – 1 chew 2x/day. It’s shelf-stable at room temperature, and 1 or 2 bottles should get your whole family through vacation in tip top shape!
- Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D3 is one of the most important immune boosters for the winter and all-year-round.
- Umcka Coldcare syrup – This herbal syrup is great to start at the beginning of any cold or flu-like illness. (NOTE: this is the same as Integrative Therapeutic’s V Clear syrup).
- Kan Herb’s Windbreaker – This tincture is a staple in our household. We travel with 8-ounce bottles! If your child is amenable to taking Chinese herbs (really – these aren’t bad!), this formula will knock that cold, fever, or flu right out of your system!
- Xlear Nasal Spray – A must to prevent infections (spray while flying or after any potential “exposure”), and to help clear those congested, runny noses!
If you’re not familiar with homeopathic medicines, please refer to my blogposts What is Homeopathy – Part 1 and What is Homeopathy – Part 2 for more information on what they are and how to use them. As many of you know, homeopathic medicines are often my preferred choice for infants, and pregnant and nursing women, because they are so safe yet effective! I generally recommend using the 9C or 30C dilution, although the 30C dilution is usually easier to find at Whole Foods and other health food stores. The dosage is typically 3 pellets every 3-4 hours at least 10 minutes away from food or drink. However, for acute situations like hives and fevers, homeopathic medicines can even be given every 10-15 minutes as needed. Space out the interval between doses as symptoms improve. Stop when feeling better. These are the homeopathic medicines with their most common indications that I’ll be packing this holiday:
- Oscillococcinum – 1 vial 3 times over a 24-hour period at the start of flu-like illness, fever, chills. Also great to take preventatively during a flight or after any potential “exposure.”
- Coldcalm – a combination cold/flu formula to combat the most common symptoms.
- Arnica – for head bonks, bruises, sprains, aches and pains.
- Nux vomica – for nausea and vomiting, or upset stomach/indigestion especially after overindulgence (too many cookies for the kids, or perhaps too much champagne on New Year’s Eve?)
- Arnica ointment/cream – for sore muscles, head bonks, bruises and sprains.
- Calendula ointment/cream – for open cuts and scratches, itchy rashes. And if you’re headed to the mountains where nosebleeds are a common occurrence, calendula to both nostrils at bedtime can do the trick!
- Lavender – for general calming, fevers, aches and pains, sleep support.
- Peppermint – for nausea, can also be applied directly to itchy spots and bites.
- Your favorite immune-boosting blend – Elizabeth van Buren’s Immune, DoTerra’s On Guard, Young Living’s Thieves
So there you have it – my Essential Winter Holiday Travel Remedy Kit. Be sure to download your free guide here: Essential Winter Travel Remedy Kit
If you want even more details, be sure to check out my articles Top Ways to Boost Your Child’s Immune System and Pediatrician-Approved Natural Remedies for the Flu
Now go have fun in the snow or sun – wherever these winter holidays take you. Have a healthy, happy vacation, and please pass this information along to any mama or papa you know who could benefit!
xo Holistic mama doc – Elisa Song, MD