Staph infection in the Dominican Republic
One of the greatest concerns – and perhaps biggest inhibitors – to traveling with children is the fear of dealing with illness and injury while away from home.
In our travels, our family has personally dealt with the threat of malaria; staph infections; boils; lice; stomach aches; flus; colds; allergies; broken bones; cavities and root canals - to name just a few.
Not knowing what to do if you or your child faces a health concern while traveling can be very frightening.
Add to that the uncertainty of being able to find adequate medical treatment (or insurance) while abroad, and you suddenly have a situation that seems almost overwhelming.
That’s why a proper health care plan is imperative to bring peace of mind.
Our family has that peace of mind while we travel, because of a 3-part health care plan that we’ve adopted into our lifestyle.
However, when I refer to ‘health care’, I don’t mean it in the traditional sense of insurance which pays for doctor visits, prescriptions and medical treatment.
Instead, I’m referring to the serious attention or consideration we give toward maintaining a state of well-being (for ourselves and our family) that is free from illness or injury.
Ultimately, we are each responsible for our own condition of health, and parents are responsible for teaching their children to take good care of their bodies.
When we only rely on the medical profession to manage all of our health concerns, we give up some of that personal responsibility, and justify conditions such as our ‘diet is not that important, because the doctor can give me something to manage my diabetes.’
And handing over our well-being (and that of our children) into the hands of ‘trained professionals’ leaves us feeling very vulnerable when we face something which threatens our health.
For the most part, our family approaches health care – whether at ‘home’ or abroad – with the following modus operandi:
- Maintain health and well being through proper diet and exercise. Prevent illness and injury. We aim to eat very little sugar, fresh fruits and vegetables (locally grown if we can find them), and very few processed foods.Those who eat a standard western diet (which consists of processed and industrialized foods) have a greater chance of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, as well as other illnesses.
- Handle illnesses and injuries with natural remedies, and study about the treatment and care of common ailments.(My husband has studied as an EMT, and I use Modern Essentials as my study guide.)Have a good First Aid Kit on hand. Know how to use it. (Here’s our Unconventional First Aid Kit)
- Visit a doctor for major health concerns – broken bones, etc.When we were in a car accident, and our three year old broke her femur, we were clearly out of our ‘comfort zone’ for personal care (obviously). To say we were more than happy to use the trained medical professionals at the hospital is an understatement
Using the above formula, we can almost count on one hand the number of times our family has been to the doctor or hospital.
We maintain great health, feel confident with our ability to treat most ailments, and know that if needed we can find the medical treatment we require, (since you’ll discover that most of the medical care outside the U.S. and Europe is as good or even better, and usually less expensive.)
Accepting responsibility for the health and well-being of your family is a key ingredient to confidence while traveling with your children.
Knowing that you can personally handle most maladies that you might encounter makes your family travel adventures more mentally manageable (for many mothers, anyway.)
But unfortunately we often see a 911 call and an ambulance ride for a gash in a leg, a dash to the emergency room for a case of croup, and other medical ‘overreactions’, usually caused by fear of the unknown due to ignorance of our bodies and how they work, and how to work with and heal them.
Yes, there are times when trained professionals can provide care that we can’t. But a large contributor to high costs of medical care (and insurance) in the U.S. comes from individuals who visit for every little malady.
If we treated ourselves for what is self-treatable, and visited the physicians only when absolutely necessary, health care costs might become more manageable.
If we focused on prevention of disease, instead of management of symptoms, we’d also save a lot in dollars (or euros or pesos). You have to pay hundreds a month for high-blood pressure medication? Why not just eliminate the high-blood pressure through proper diet and exercise? (Often that’s not the course of action because it requires more work than popping a pill.)
Why not allot some time to studying how to take better care of your body, treat minor ailments and illnesses, and thus building your confidence to care for yourself and your family – at home or while traveling?
In Defense of Food – Eat real food. What is real food? You’ll find out here.
Perfect Health – An Eastern approach to health: learning and working with your body types – Vata, Pitta, Kapha
Mother of five amazing kids, author, family travel expert and full-time traveler. Besides writing about their family travel adventures, Rachel also shares information on The Art of Family Travel, how to Fund Your Lifestyle, and is co-author of the popular book, Living Deliberately: How to Create a Ridiculously Awesome Life.