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How to Stay Healthy While Traveling with Kids

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Worried about getting sick while traveling? Coming down with a cold, the flu or other malady can ruin even the most amazing vacation. You’ve invested a lot of money and time into planning your family trip, so don’t let illness spoil your time away. These 12 tried-and-true tips from family travel experts will teach you how to stay healthy while traveling with kids.

Boy and man wearing germ-protectant Biogators in Shanghai, China

My son and husband with their germ-protectant Biogaiters in Shanghai, China (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

This story is brought to you in partnership with Bioscarf.

1. Keep hands clean.

Traveling with the Littles Author Catherine Brady reminds us, “The best way to prevent the passage of germs is by washing your hands. This little step frequently gets lost in the hustle and bustle of traveling, when washing your hands can be the most beneficial.”

Pack antibacterial gel in your purse or day bag and use it often: after theme park rides, before eating, after handling cruise ship buffet ladles and beyond. Kate Allen from Little Miss Kate & Co. also suggests attaching a small bottle of hand sanitizer to each child’s bag when traveling. She says, “There are lots of hand sanitizer options that have clips or holders that will attach them to any purse or bag. Make sure your kids know how to open and close the containers, and that a little goes a long way.”

Washing hands is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stay healthy while traveling or at home

Washing hands is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stay healthy while traveling or at home (Photo credit:,

2. Use antibacterial wipes.

Antibacterial wipes are a parent’s best friend when traveling with kids. Use these to wipe down notoriously germ-ridden surfaces during your travels, like tray tables and arm rests on airplanes. You should also disinfect your hotel room or vacation rental by cleaning remote controls, doorknobs, and light switches.

Family on Standby‘s Nick Stretchbery agrees. He says, “We fly a TON with our toddler and I don’t think we’d make it without bringing a billion wipes with us in the diaper bag. On her 50+ flights, there might have been three during which she didn’t attempt to put her mouth on the tray table or eat something directly off it. Before each flight, we clean that bad boy off, along with the window, because, well…you never know.”

Use antibacterial wipes to disinfect germ-ridden surfaces during your travels, like airplane tray tables

Use antibacterial wipes to disinfect germ-ridden surfaces during your travels, like airplane tray tables (Photo credit: coffmancmu,

3. Avoid germs, allergens and air pollution with a mask, Bioscarf or Biogaiter.

Masks protect from germs, allergens and air pollution. Bioscarves or Biogaiters do the same, while keeping you warm during your travels. These look like regular neckwear, but include a special filter to block out airborne contaminants. In fact, lab results have proven that a Bioscarf or Biogaiter filters out an average of 99.75% of all airborne particulates size 0.1 microns and larger.

Family on Great Wall of China

I’m sporting my Bioscarf to keep me warm atop the Great Wall of China in Beijing (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

If you’re going to wear a scarf or neck gaiter, then you should pack one that protects you from inclement weather as well as impurities in the air! Whether you’re in New York City or Tokyo, you can look good and feel great wearing your Bioscarf or Biogaiter. Get your Bioscarf or Biogaiter now!

Making your own breakfasts while traveling, like my family did in Paris, can help prevent over-indulging

Making your own breakfasts while traveling, like my family did in Paris, can mean better food choices (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

4. Make smart food choices.

Eating healthfully is the foundation of good health, whether at home or on the go. Sure, you want to try new, exciting foods while traveling, but it’s important to eat a balanced diet so you can keep energy up and avoid tummy troubles. That means eating plenty of high-fiber foods like fruits, veggies and legumes as well as lean proteins. It also means being reasonable when it comes to fatty or sugary treats. For my family, it’s all about balance. Sure, we want that ice cream at Disneyland, but we try to stick to just one splurge per day.

Be sure to eat your veggies when traveling with kids!

Be sure to eat your veggies when traveling! (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Lisa Cameron with Adventures in Familyhood advises packing healthy travel snacks. She says, “To avoid overeating and eventual car sickness on a road trip, I pack each kid an individual snack pack. Inside the pack are healthy snacks such as yogurt, cheese sticks, pretzels, and fruit. The snacks inside are to last for the duration of the trip. Not only does this method keep their snacking healthy, but also it helps us avoid fights over snacks, which is good for our mental health.”

Fresh produce in San Miguel de Allende

Soak fruits and vegetables in iodine solution in destinations where drinking water is unsafe (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Take precautions to avoid foodborne illness when traveling, too. Be sure to wash fresh produce with an iodine solution in destinations without safe drinking water. Sandy Gram from the Mixed Blessings blog also recommends travelers, “Try not to eat raw or undercooked meat while traveling to foreign countries where food inspections may not be stringent. And, before eating at a restaurant, look around and check to see if it’s clean.”

Use a daily pill organizer to help remember to take vitamins while traveling with kids

Use a daily pill organizer to help remember to take vitamins while traveling (Photo credit: AndreyPopov,

5. Take vitamins and supplements.

Even when making a concerted effort to eat right, it can be difficult to get all the nutrients your family needs, especially when away from home. That’s why I pack multivitamins for both adults and children. To be sure everyone remembers to take their vitamins while traveling, use a travel-sized pill case marked with the days of the week.

Melynda Coble Harrison from TravelingMel and Mel’s Garden advises, “Take probiotics and essential oil capsules before and during the trip. We take a room temperature-stable probiotic while traveling to help keep the digestive issues at bay, especially in countries where that is likely to be an issue for us.” Interested in learning more about essential oils for good health? Take a look at these tips for using essential oils while traveling.

A good night's rest helps maintain both physical and mental health while traveling with children

A good night’s rest helps maintain both physical and mental health while traveling (Photo credit: romrodinka,

6. Maintain good sleep habits.

Becky Morales with Kid World Citizen says, “I really feel like a well-rested child (or adult!) is much more likely have a strong immune system. Adequate sleep is the key to staying healthy while traveling!”

Little Family Adventure‘s Nicki Omohundro agrees. She advises, “If traveling with younger children who still nap, maintain your child’s sleep schedule as best you can. It’s tempting to skip the nap because there are so many things you want to see and do while on vacation. But your child needs that rest. If you skip it and push too far, a meltdown will likely ensue.”

To learn how to make sure the whole family is well-rested during your vacation, take a look at these tips for getting good sleep while traveling with kids.



When in doubt, order bottled water when traveling to a foreign country with kids

When in doubt, order bottled water when traveling in a foreign country (Photo credit: karandaev,

7. Stay hydrated and stick to safe beverages.

Staying hydrated is essential for good health. Keep in mind that flying and traveling to higher altitudes can lead to dehydration. Alcohol zaps hydration, too, so you may want to skip the cocktails, especially for the first day or two of your trip.

Before reaching your destination, be sure to research whether the local drinking water is safe. When in doubt, stick to bottled water and other hydrating drinks like coconut water and electrolyte-infused, non-sugary sports drinks. Or, bring along your own water purifier. Liling Pang, co-founder of Trekaroo, advises, “Travel with a water purifier that is easy to use. You’ll always have clean water without polluting the environment with tons of plastic waste.”

If traveling to a destination where the local water is safe for drinking, on the other hand, packing reusable water bottles is a great way to keep all family members hydrated. Jurga Van S., creator of Full Suitcase Family says, “We always carry reusable water bottles, one per person, and fill them up when possible. Not only is it good for your health, it also saves money, and is environmentally friendly.”

Use insect repellent spray to avoid bug bites when traveling with children

Use insect repellent spray to avoid bug bites (Photo credit: galitskaya,

8. Protect your family from bug bites.

If traveling to a destination where mosquitos and other biting insects are prevalent, be sure to take steps to protect your family from bug bites. Katja Gaskill with Globetotting says, “Having lived in two countries with my kids where mosquito-borne diseases were a part of daily life and having traveled to a few more, we’ve got our anti-mosquito bite routine down pat! Make sure everyone in the family wears long sleeves and long pants and avoid dark colors if possible. Use a recommended bug or mosquito spray on any exposed areas. Mosquito bands or patches are also a good idea for kids.” Additionally, she recommends staying indoors at dusk, when mosquitos like to come out to feast.

Be sure to apply sunblock on kids when traveling, even when you're NOT at the beach

Be sure to apply sunblock on kids when traveling, even when you’re NOT at the beach (Photo credit: shalamov,

9. Apply sunblock.

It’s easy to get caught up in seeing the sites or splashing in the ocean and forget to protect skin from the sun’s harsh rays. Eileen Gunn from FamiliesGo! recommends travelers, “Pack sunscreen even for trips you might not think of. You need it for outdoor winter activities like skiing, for example.” She continues to say that sunscreen is imperative, “even on city vacations, when you’re out walking around all day and you’re taking in more sun than you realize.”

Even when you take all necessary precautions, you or your child may get motion sick like my daughter did during a snorkeling tour in Hawaii

Even when you take all necessary precautions, you or your child may get motion sick like my daughter did during a snorkeling tour in Hawaii (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

10. Avoid or handle motion sickness.

Motion sickness can zap the fun from any vacation. Even if no one in your family has suffered from motion sickness in the past, it’s best to be prepared. To avoid motion sickness, Kaylie Baker with Happiness Travels Here suggests, “Keep hydrated and keep snacks small and bland. Look out to the horizon and remove anything that is obstructing the view out the window. Hanging toys are not your friend in this scenario!” For more help, read these additional motion sickness tips and remedies.

Pack medications your family might need during your vacation

Pack medications your family might need during your vacation (Photo credit: devilkae)

11. Keep a separate stash of medicines just for travel.

Although you’re doing your best to avoid getting sick, illness can still strike while traveling. It’s important to have some relief on hand when it does. Rather than digging through the medicine cabinet before every vacation, I advise keeping a separate stash of medicines just for travel. Suggested items to bring include pain/fever reliever, decongestants, cough syrup, antibacterial ointment, small bandages, and medication for relief from constipation or diarrhea.

Whisky + Sunshine Editor Jana Seitzer suggests, “Always pack antihistamine like Benadryl and hydrocortisone lotion (and Epi-pens if you have a known food allergy) when traveling. Allergies to food can creep up at anytime!” If you or a family member have a serious food allergy, be sure to check out our tips for traveling with life-threatening food allergies.

Parc de la Turlure in Montmartre

Take time out for relaxation and play during your family vacation (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

12. Take it easy.

When planning your family vacation, try to alternate busy days with mellow days. Catherine Brady from Traveling with the Littles says, “Often, while traveling, we try to cram in as much as possible. Cut your sight-seeing list down and move at a slower pace. This gives everyone time to rest and nap if necessary. And burn-out will be less likely.”

Bioscarf giveaway for good health while traveling

My daughter wearing her Bioscarf to stay warm and healthy in Shanghai (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Keep in mind that children do not have the patience or stamina for fast-paced, non-stop travel. Karen Presley Dawkins with Family Travels on a Budget recommends parents keep this in mind when embarking on road trips. She says, “The ‘get there as fast as you can’ mentality is really tough on little kids. Those car seats get hot. And kid muscles need to move. Stop at rest areas to let kids chase bubbles, take a walk or even to do jumping jacks. Happy kids are less stressed. Less stress is better for everyone!”

The best way to ensure an easy-going trip for everyone is to stay healthy. Protect yourself from viruses, allergens and air pollution by buying a Bioscarf or Biogaiter now!

Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling with Kids

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Want to keep these healthy travel tips for future reference? Simply pin the image above to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

If you liked this story, then I bet you’ll love our list of unusual things to add to your family vacation packing list.

What are your best tips for staying healthy while traveling with kids? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: This story is based on tips from travel experts, not medical professionals. Please check with your family doctor or pediatrician regarding any health decisions. I received free sample products and monetary compensation related to this blog post. 

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. A super helpful and timely article, thanks!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Thanks, Claudia! Most of us aren’t traveling much right now, but hopefully soon we’ll be able to hit the road again…and we’ll all want to stay healthy & safe when we do!

  2. Keryn Means says

    Learned the hard way that we need to slow our travels down, especially when you start to feel run down. My youngest got sick at Disney TWICE. Learned how to slow down real fast… and take naps on vacation. Ha!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      When my kids were little, they seemed to get sick on every vacation. We had to learn quick how to boost our immunity and stay well on the road!

  3. Diane Ninsiima says

    Thanks for the tips

  4. I use antibacterial wipes and wipe down my area on the plane. I wash my hands a lot and make sure that I’m well hydrated!

  5. Laurie Emerson says

    My best tip is to keep hydrated and also have a lot of hand sanitizer.

  6. Cassandra D says

    I make sure that I wash my hands and use hand sanitizer.

  7. KCee Horne says

    My tip is: Prior to trips we take extra doses of elderberry syrup, vitamin c and yogurt with probiotics.
    Additional tips: I always travel with bleach wipes and sanitizer. I wipe down my entire seat area on flight. Ive used a scarf during winter months when illness is more rampant. Ive traveled extensively and have never gotten sick.

  8. Great tips!

  9. Kamela Kern says

    All of these tips are great. I don’t think I can add much. I make sure to get rest time, take vitamins and vaccinate before international travel, carry hand sanitizer with me, etc.

    This Bioscarf looks cool. I’d love to try one.

  10. Getting lots of sleep is important. It might be tempting to forego sleep in exchange for fun times, but the lack of sleep harms your immune system and makes you more susceptible to illness.

  11. Candace Pfeifer says

    Make sure everyone gets plenty of sleep and they all keep their hands washed!

  12. Audrey Stewart says

    We always have wipes with us. When we travel, we wipe down everything. Phones, remotes. light switches, mouses, etc.

  13. Agness | the adventure traveler says

    Getting sick while you’re in a vacation is probably the worst thing. Not only will I not be able to enjoy my trip, but getting my hands on medical treatment can be quite a pain to deal with. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Agreed — it’s so important to bring along all medications you think you might need just in case of illness. You don’t want to be in a remote location with no relief!

  14. Frequent hand washing or using hand sanitizers is a must as is carrying wipes to disinfect things when needed.

  15. My tip is to wear a mask on the plane and wash your hands often.

  16. These are such practical tips. Eating healthy is the most important. Will keep them in mind.

  17. Using a water bottle that filters water is a great way to keep healthy while travelling.

  18. Elizabeth O says

    Such a very helpful advise. Sometimes we tend to forget to bring medicines or fist aid kit

  19. Candy Rachelle says

    It seems that you are having a wonderful vacation there. What an awesome place to visit with families. and it is really important to stay hydrated.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Oh my goodness, yes! Several years ago during a multigenerational trip to Mexico, my dad fainted from dehydration in a remote little town. We all thought he’d had a heart attack but it turns out that he was just severely dehydrated.

  20. Shannon Gurnee - Redhead Mom says

    This looks like an awesome product! I hadn’t heard of it before.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      I love when small businesses like this launch an innovative product like this that makes our lives better!

  21. These are good tips. I wish I could say I didn’t have a “we are traveling sick” story, but unfortunately I do.

  22. Toni | Boulder Locavore says

    Yes! These are really awesome tips! Health is really important anywhere you go.

  23. Thena Franssen says

    Great tips. Getting sick while traveling is no fun at all. We do a lot of these to stay healthy.

  24. Jaye Shields says

    Interesting post. I’m just curious what the bio scarves are made of?

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Good question! The scarves are made from polyester material and contain a particulate filter.

  25. I bring a first aid kit of meds just in case because you never know! Lots of good hand washing is also key too.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      So smart to have medicines you’ll need on-hand. Even if you’re visiting a destination where you can easily purchase familiar medications, you never know when illness may strike in the middle of the night!

  26. Very useful tips. I dont have any kids yet but have travelled with my neices who are now a lot older. Will share these with my sisters who have mini travellers at the moment.

  27. It is so important to look after kids health while traveling. I totally swear by antibacterial wipes. They are so easy to use. ?

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Other passengers have asked me if they can have an antibacterial wipe so they can wipe down their tray tables, too. Love those wipes!

  28. Porsha carr says

    That’s a wonderful giveaway! Also I will totally use your top on eating better! I think that’s why always get sick traveling 🙁

  29. Number one tip while traveling to certain countries. Drip bottle water that is a life savior1

  30. Sara | says

    These are some awesome tips! Getting sick really does put a damper on a trip. I get motion sickness and need to plan for that. But planning and preventing helps a ton! Thanks for the advice and inspiration ♡

    • Colleen Lanin says

      My daughter and I both suffer from motion sickness, too, Sara. I feel your pain! Glad to hear these tips resonated with you!

  31. the scarf looks so good. perfect for traveling. I so agree with you on all points!

  32. Bill Sweeney says

    These would be perfect for traveling solo or as a family. It is never fun when a family member gets sick while on vacation.

  33. Christine Yvonne Groce says

    hand sanitizer and staying hydrated.

  34. Joanna Clute says

    I love these ideas! I know how hard keeping them healthy can be sometimes.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Oh boy, isn’t that the truth?! Especially when kids are wee and they stick EVERYTHING in their mouths!

  35. Tiffany La Forge-Grau says

    These are some super tips! Keeping the kids up and running is important when travelling!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Yes! No sense spending all of that money on a vacation only to be holed up in the hotel room with a sick kid!

  36. Danyelle Whitley says

    Living in Las Vegas, we have tons of different germs at our family attractions. I think the bioscarf would be a great addition to any travelers kit. We have 4 kids and keeping their hands clean and naps on schedule is always a challenge when traveling!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      I only have 2 kids so I can only imagine how hard it is to keep 4 kids content and HEALTHY when traveling!

  37. Erin Knight says

    I love all these tips. I also agree with sleeping habits. I have a tendency of napping everyday, and when I travel, I skipped nap because I fear of missing out on exploring new places. It did not go well. I think maintaining the sleep habits is very important to make the most out of our trip,

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Lucky you…I wish I could nap! You’re so smart to maintain everyone’s sleep schedule when traveling…including you!

  38. Kristine Nicole Alessandra says

    These bioscarfs look better than disposable surgical masks. I would want to get each family member one bioscarf to take with them everyday! Aside from adapting a healthy lifestyle, protecting ourselves from pollution will help avoid illness too.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Agreed! Lots of people get sick after visiting large cities with lots of smog. So great to have a stylish solution!

  39. Subhashish Roy says

    I love all the tips given by you. These are invaluable since the key to enjoying our planned travel is to remain illness free

  40. Kids catch a lot of air born diseases soon. Then through them, the parents catch it too. All the tops shared above will be very helpful in combating them. ?

  41. Hmm, the bioscarf looks very handy and stylish.

  42. K from Kronicles says

    We always travel with my kid nieces and nephews and they are literally almost allergic to everything! I am going to take note of these. Thanks so much!

  43. Abigail Gibson says

    I carry around a small bottle of hand sanitizer in case I no where to wash my hands.

  44. Emily Fata says

    I can imagine how difficult it is staying healthy while travelling with children, especially because I can find it difficult at times keeping just myself healthy while I travel. These are some really great tips for family travelling.

  45. Allison Waken says

    I think you covered all my favorite tips! I’ve never seen the Bio Scarves though, love this idea!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      We saw lots of the pollution masks in China, but I think we were the only ones with Bioscarves. I hope more people discover this unique product to keep them healthy during their travels and at home!

  46. I need one of these for every member of my family. We do our best to do all the things that will keep us healthy while we travel, but one of us always seems to get sick!

  47. This is a great reminder of what to do. I always drink a lot of water, wash my hands and pack a travel humidifier. I need to buy a bioscarf!

  48. Those some great tips. Def on board with wiping down the airplane seat and especially the table. I was not that aware before, but traveling with a little one and reading articles about it is often dirtier than the toilet, we wipe all the time. Also for immune boost we take natural olive leaf supplement, it is great and used in Europe if it’s not official in US

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