Tips for healthy travel with children

The smaller bodies and developing immune systems of children under the age of 15 make their travel health needs unique.

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Visiting a health care provider

Consult your health care provider or one at a travel health clinic about your travel plans—preferably 6 weeks before you travel. There may be age limitations for some travel vaccines.

Remember to:

Learn more about travel vaccinations.

Preparing for air travel

Pack supplies to prevent illness and handle minor illness or injuries, such as cuts and insect bites and stings.

Air travel is safe for healthy infants and children, but ear pain due to changes in pressure during landing is more common in children than in adults.

To lessen the pain you can:

If you are travelling by air with a newborn who is 1 to 2 weeks old, check with the airline before flying. Some airlines won’t allow newborns to fly.

Learn more about travelling with children on a plane.

Common illnesses

Children may be at risk of illness or infections while travelling outside Canada.

Learn about what to do if you or your child need medical attention.

Travellers' diarrhea

Travellers’ diarrhea is a common illness. Children with diarrhea become dehydrated more quickly than adults. You can prevent dehydration with an oral rehydration solution (ORS).

Seek medical attention if your child:

Avoid using bismuth subsalicylate (for example, Pepto-Bismol) to treat diarrhea in:

Learn more about the symptoms and treatment of travellers' diarrhea.

Illnesses transmitted in food and beverages

Food and beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites or viruses cause the most common illnesses among travellers.

If you are travelling with an infant, you can help prevent food- and water-borne diseases by:

Learn more about water treatment methods and avoiding contaminated food and drinks.

Illnesses transmitted in swimming water

Swimming in fresh, non-chlorinated water, such as that in ponds or lakes, can lead to diseases like schistosomiasis and leptospirosis.

Infections from insects and animals

Infected insects, such as mosquitoes, flies, fleas and ticks, spread many travel-related diseases. Use insect repellents containing DEET or icaridin (also known as picaridin) on exposed skin, but avoid applying them on children’s hands.

In areas with dengue or malaria, insect repellents are recommended for use even on children under the age of 6 months. Although insect repellents are not usually advised for children under 6 months, these diseases pose a greater risk to them than the potential adverse effects of repellents.

Use a bed net over playpens, cribs and strollers. Insecticide-treated clothing may be available to protect young children.

Learn more about preventing and reducing the risks of insect bites.


Malaria can be particularly severe for children.

Find out which areas have a risk of malaria.


Rabies is a deadly illness that spreads to humans through close contact with the saliva of infected animals.

If your child is bitten, scratched or licked on broken skin or mucous membranes – for example around eyes, nose and mouth:

Learn more about the risks, symptoms and treatment of rabies.

Environmental effects of travel

Jet lag

Jet lag can develop after crossing multiple time zones. Children with jet lag may have difficulty falling asleep at night and may wake up earlier than usual.

Motion sickness

Motion sickness is a risk for children between the ages of 2 and 12.

Children may be able to lessen motion sickness by:

Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness can develop in children more quickly than adults. The signs and symptoms in children are often vague and may be confused with other illnesses. Medical authorities recommend that children not travel to altitudes higher than 2,500 m (8,200 feet) above sea level.

Safety measures

Driving and getting around at your destination

Water sports

Learn more about supervising children when they are in water.

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