Over last 36 years, I have gathered enough anecdotes to fill a book on how parents / children suffered for lack of proper planning while touring and would like to offer a checklist/doable list on planning towards health while touring.
- Always carry a kit of medicines that is planned by your doctor. Parents always carry medicines but the OTC (Over The Counter) variety. Let your doctor write a prescription specific to every common disease (including antibiotics for infections viz. bronchitis, throat infection, diarrhoea & urinary infection – especially for the girl child), detailing dosages for each child. Please buy all the medicines enough for 1-2 courses (based on number of kids & duration of the tour) as you will not get all the better brands wherever you are going. This practice is mandatory in case of overseas travel as you cannot walk over to the friendly chemist and ask for medicines including antibiotics-in any other country; plus having a valid prescription saves you from queries by customs officials.
- If your child is under any ongoing medication, request your doctor to give a brief summary, should the need arise. Carry all relevant reports – preferably scanned copies in a USB drive. Always carry medicines to last for 8-10 days beyond your proposed trip.
- Request your doctor that should the need arise; you will call them from the destination to ask for medicines. And also if needed, call your doctor when you are standing at a chemist shop as the brands your doctor writes are for sure not available where you have gone visiting. He can tell the generic names to the chemist; If that is not possible, ask your doctor to text you the generic names with dosage. Always pay for this service to your doctor.
- Request your doctor that when there is a need to visit a doctor / hospital at your travel destination, you would make the doctor there speak to him/ her and get the approach okayed. Tourists are a target group for all vendors including healthcare.
- Always ensure your kids (& adults) are protected with Tetanus toxoid before leaving; avoid taking a shot from some unknown clinic, especially if travelling to remote places.
- Non-medical tips:
- In India, all bottled water are not safe for drinking. There is a difference between ‘Packaged drinking water’ and ‘safe drinking water’. Insist on a well-known brand, preferable internationally known.
- In India, avoid giving uncooked food – chutneys, juices made at roadside stalls, raita, lassi, jal jeera etc as the cost of all these is not enough for them to use filtered (safe) water. Always ask, is it-filtered water? Hygiene should be uppermost on your mind and we all love to enjoy chaat when touring.
- If traveling overseas, ensure you have an overseas health insurance policy. We just cannot afford medical fees overseas.
- Always carry your health insurance policy details / card with you including a list of hospitals at your travel destination.
- A true tip: If you have a health insurance policy in India and the insurer also has overseas health policy; talk to your agent and try to put your policy in India in hibernation. This way your cover can get extended for the duration of your overseas journey. Try if travelling for 10 days or more.
Have a nice & healthy holiday…
Dr Chander Asrani, father to three daughters and grand father to one, is a post-graduate in Family Medicine. He has over 35 years in clinical practice, launched www.growingwell.com in 2000 and since then has been writing on various subjects. Know more about him at about.me/drasrani.