Probably the biggest concern any parent has when travelling abroad and especially to countries with lower hygiene standards is how to keep their child healthy and avoid sickness. No matter where you are from, all parents have an inbuilt instinct to keep their child safe and healthy.
However, wrapping them up in cotton wool is not the answer, kids learn so much from travel, it’s such a shame not to visit places due to worries about hygiene and getting sick. I do understand that everyone has different standards and has to apply what they think is best for their own child.
That being said, after two years of full time travel, even I’ve been surprised how little sickness we have endured as family in Europe, South East Asia and Australia.
Precautions to keep your kids healthy
I’m often asked by other parents, “but aren’t you worried about your girls getting ill when your away.” We always give the same answer, that we have exactly the same worries and concerns as any parent. But we don’t let those worries completely dictate our decisions to visit certain countries.
What we do, is manage the risks, we do our research and weigh up the pros and cons. The majority of the time we have come to realise that if we take some basic precautions and preventive measures getting sick is avoidable 90% of the time.
These are our personal precautions and tips we suggest for staying healthy whilst travelling with small children. These tips can also be applied not just to families with children but any individual who is travelling long term.
Our knowledge is tried and tested Marco and I have been travelling for over 12 years to some very remote parts of the world and have been sick only a handful of times.
When we travel we like to it mix up eating out at some expensive restaurants as well as local street food.
Our experiences have taught us that sometimes you are more likely to get sick from eating in a very expensive restaurant, than you are from eating food from a cheap, but busy street vendor. This is mostly due to a more expensive restaurant not receiving a huge amount of customers; so you may not be eating the freshest of food, because they keep ingredients longer.
Eating Street Food
When eating out at a street vendors, we always choose very busy stands, to ensure that they have a high turnover of customers which usually ensures the food is fresh.
We also look to see whether local people are eating their with their own children. Again the same logic applies as before. Any parent around the world, wouldn’t want to expose their children to food poisoning.
We always eat cooked or hot food from street vendors, as the refrigeration methods can be very basic.
Eating out in restaurants
If eating at a restaurant the same rules apply we try to choose very busy ones, now with smart phones we will try to check some online reviews for the restaurant. If we still feel unsure of the quality, we would only order vegetarian and hot dishes, again is to minimise the risk of getting ill.
Avoid Frozen Foods and uncooked foods that can’t be peeled.
We avoid any frozen foods or drinks like ice cream and ice in our drinks.
In South East Asia, there are frequent power cuts, which can go on for many hours and we all know the dangers of food which hasn’t been defrosted properly, or ice made from unfiltered water.
Staying healthy whilst travelling
Full time travel especially in places like South East Asia means eating out a lot on restaurants. To try to prevent us from getting ill we try to maintain a healthy gut by taking probiotics.
During our first six months in south East Asia Marco and I and the kids took a probiotic every day. Obviously it’s important to consult a doctor before you take any sort supplement.
Staying in an apartment to Enjoy Simple Home Cooked Food
Obviously kids are kids and they just don’t enjoy experimenting so much with exotic foods as us parents, particularly when every dish is filled with chilly’s. However this often means a limited amount of food choices in restaurants. To combat this we like to frequently stay in airbnb’s with a kitchen allowing us to cook some simple wholesome home cooked food, that the whole family enjoys.
Keep it simple, buy lots of fresh vegetables from the local market and travel with stock cubes and a few herbs which can often be hard to buy in some countries. Also eating in a home, is far less stressful than eating out in restaurants, which can get a little tiring especially with young kids.
Travel with a Sharp knife and Chopping Board
If you are eating out in restaurants frequently it is often difficult to get enough fruit and vegetables down kids, as they often prepared with sauces and flavours that kids don’t like. To counter balance this, we always travel with a sharp knife and a small chopping board and bowl which will allow us to buy and prepare fresh fruit from local markets.
This trick also helps with keeping a healthy gut and avoid constipation, which can then cause a strained immune system.
The best small blender for travel
This our second winter in South East Asia, and we have brought with us a small blender that allows us to have smoothies anywhere which we often add a few supplements too like spirulina.
This is great piece of equipment to carry when travelling as it allows a big intake of fruit and vegetables disguised in a delicious drink, we often add spinach mixed with fruit, which the girls love. Check out our favourite Green Smoothies recipe here.
Our blender of choice in The Ninja Bullet, which you can buy from amazon here.
So next time you are planning an exotic trip with your kids, and your mind is full of doubts about hygiene and getting ill, keep these precautions in mind.
The blender we use is the Ninja QB3001UKS Slim Blender and Smoothie Maker, Silver or if you live in the US please check this link Ninja Personal Blender for Shakes, Smoothies, Food Prep, and Frozen Blending with 700-Watt Base and (2) 16-Ounce Cups with Spout Lids (QB3001SS)
I’m not a nutritionist or doctor, therefore please check with a doctor or nutritionist before taking any supplements.
These suggested precautions won’t keep you 100% illness free, however from our own experience as a full time travelling family they certainly helped us.