5 LESSONS we learned about having sick kids on vacation

Imagine, you have been planning a vacation for several months and the time has come to finally take it. You get there and the place is beautiful. Everything is planned down to the hour, and you feel excited that after months of preparation you are finally here. You get out your schedule and gather the family to tell them the game plan for the week. One of the kids comes up to you to tell you they aren’t feeling too well. Maybe you shrug it off saying something like it was all the excitement of getting here, or we have been traveling for a long time. You think, there is no time in the schedule for a sick kid, but then it happens. They get sick!

Now what? With months of planning you never took into consideration someone getting sick. Do you go to a hospital or an urgent care? Do you have someone come to your hotel or resort room? How will you get medicine? Is a nap enough to just hope they feel better when they wake up? Question after question starts to run through your mind. What do you do?



Personally having traveled to over 19 countries and counting, getting sick is always going to happen as there are germs everywhere. The airport, the bathrooms, the plane (OMG, don’t get me started on the number of germs on a plane), the bus, the lobby, and the hotel room to name just a few places. You and your kids can pick something up anywhere and quickly. I have learned a few really good lessons as to what to when you or the kids get sick while one vacation.




Lesson 1: Don’t panic. The first thing many parents do, including myself, is panic as to what they are going to do. Stay calm and find out what the symptoms are first. From the symptoms, try to figure out the amount of medical assistance that is going to be needed, i.e. hospital, urgent care, or just a trip to the pharmacy. Once you know this, find the nearest place.

Lesson 2: Know where the nearest hospital, urgent care, or pharmacy is located that will take your insurance plan. When you are vacationing in the United States many people believe that their health insurance covers any health-related issues. This isn’t always the truth, and people end up with large medical bills. Make sure to contact your health insurance company before traveling, and find out where the nearest hospital and urgent care are located that are covered under your insurance. Same holds true for when you travel internationally. If you do not have coverage outside of the United States, then I highly recommend purchasing travel protection.


know where local care is located if you get sick



Lesson 3: Understand that kids are resilient. They may be down for a day or two but they quickly recover. Give them the time they need to rest while making sure they have plenty of what they need to be comfortable and bounce back quickly.

Lesson 4: Be amenable to adjusting your schedule. When we had a sick kid in Walt Disney World, even with all the months of planning and reservations, we had to adjust the days where we just couldn’t make it to the parks. We found fun activities at the resort they could do and made sure there was plenty of time for naps. When we were in Charleston, South Carolina with a sick kid, we watched TV and played games on their tablet. We adjusted the schedule to make sure they were comfortable and got plenty of rest.

Lesson 5: Consider bringing some over-the-counter medications with you on all your vacations. It is so much easier to have the medications on hand, then having to find them. Some medications that you may want to consider taking include: cold medications, allergy medications, stomach medications, headache medications, aches and pains medications, and a traveling thermometer. When I got sick on one of our many Walt Disney World vacations I paid $4 for 2 tablets of a cold medication on property. Paying over $40 in cold medication for what would otherwise cost me $10 at the local pharmacy, was a waste of money. Yup, lesson learned. 

NOTE: When traveling internationally, some medications may be illegal to bring into the country without proper identification. Try to make sure that you have all over-the-counter medications and prescribed medications in their original containers to avoid confiscation.

Yohannan Family in Animal Kingdom

Remember, don’t panic if your kids or you get sick on your next vacation.  Take a page from the lessons that I have learned so you can enjoy your time with your family. It really is as simple as making adjustments for a few days while your resilient child springs back to their original, healthy self. After all, Life is Better Traveling!

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