CHOOSING A FAMILY VACATION THAT’S OFF THE BEATEN TRACK BRINGS EXCITEMENT, AND RISKS.
A friend of mine and her family just returned from a trip to Chile. Setting off to explore the remote regions of the country, there were penguin sightings, beautiful sunsets, cultural immersion and most memorably, a terrifying trip to the ER.
The chain of events went something like this: First her husband got sick with a little bug, then my friend, and then their youngest son. A few days later her husband was shouting ‘AYUDA!!!’ from the window of their second-floor window as their oldest son lay on the floor convulsing. David been the last to catch the bug and it had rapidly escalated. He had a high fever, his hands were cold and now he was seizing.
They got David to the ER and he’s fine. Needless to say it was a harrowing ordeal. My friend suggested, only half-jokingly, that her husband may need some therapy before he can really put the whole thing behind him. But their ordeal brings up one of the risks in heading out into the wild and unfamiliar with your family instead of a more familiar (often pre-packaged) choice. Something can happen to your child. Something scary. And if it does, you’re miles away from home, separated from your comfort zone by many time zones and a language barrier.
Sure, kids get sick and get into accidents anywhere. But when you take your children on vacation, you the adult, their parent and caretaker, have also agreed to the perils of having something happen while you don’t have quick and comfortable care close by. You choose the more adventurous route for your family because you want to give them an experience they’ll never forget, and with it comes the risks. The risks that you agreed to when you booked the tickets.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, travelers diarrhea is the most common ailment of overseas travel, and injuries and deaths are most often linked to auto accidents and drowning. But what if in the middle of your big escape your child breaks a bone, or suffers a head injury, or has a seizure? Packing a traveler’s first aid kit is a good idea. Another tip is to brush up on your CPR before you leave. Taking out travelers medical insurance can also be helpful as it can cover additional travel expenses incurred due to illness or injury. And signing up for a membership with the International Association for Medical Assistance for Travelers (IAMAT) is a no-brainer. While it won’t help you splint a broken leg on a mountain path, it’s an invaluable, and free, resource when you do reach medical assistance.
My friend is trying to move past the trauma of the illness and is making an effort to focus the good parts of her family’s recent trip and put the rest behind her. She doesn’t regret her remote and wild choice for a family holiday. But she is vowing that the next getaway will be “a cush resort in Hawaii.”