Two’s company: tips for travelling as a single parent

The idea of going on holiday alone with a child in tow can be scary, especially if it’s the first time you’ve taken your little one away. Just because you’re a single parent doesn’t mean you can’t have a holiday though; as long as you prepare for it, you’ll have a wonderful time together.

To ensure you and your child have the best time possible, here are some tips for travelling as a single parent.

Single Parent holiday

Ask flight attendants for help

You may be used to doing stuff by yourself, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for help when you need it. Flight attendants are more than happy to cater to your child’s needs and keep an eye on them while you pop to the loo. Even if your child is asleep, it’s best to quietly ask them for help; if your child wakes up they may panic and disturb the other passengers on the flight. A friendly face will keep them entertained and relaxed.

Pack light

Remember that if you’re the only adult going on holiday, you will end up carrying all, or at least the vast majority, of the luggage. Therefore it’s unwise to pack absolutely everything you think you might need – carrying several bags and a sleepy child through an airport is not fun. Plus, you may find that a lot of the ‘essentials’ (such as formula) can be bought at your destination. Don’t make the mistake of taking too much carry-on luggage, either – you’ll need your hands free to access passports and boarding passes!

Invite someone along

If you’re planning a trip away with your child, don’t be afraid to open up your holiday invitation to friends and other family members. Your mum, brother or best friend could prove invaluable on your trip and could take some of the weight off your shoulders. Plus, it’s a great chance for your little one to bond with their uncle or grandma.

Make time for you

As it’s just you and your little monster, it can be easy to forget to ensure you’re having a good time. After all, this whole holiday is for them, right? Of course not! You may not be able to lounge by the pool without keeping one eye on them, but you can get some much needed ‘me time’ during their afternoon nap.

Get out a good book, put on a face mask, and lie back and relax. It’s a great way to spend a lazy afternoon in your hotel room, and it will mean you and your child will feel refreshed for dinner

Don’t eat out every night

While we’re on the subject of eating, it’s unwise to drag your child out for food every night, especially if they’re still quite young. They will have days where they’re grumpy and overtired by dinner time, which means they won’t sit still and will probably kick up a fuss. If you don’t have someone else at hand to help you, that nice meal of yours is going to go cold.

On those sour days, we recommend heading to the local market or shop instead, and grabbing some of your child’s favourite foods. You can then have a quiet, calm little picnic in the room. If they fall asleep in their half-eaten cheese sandwich, at least you don’t have to go far to put them to bed.

Take advantage of the kid’s club

Whichever destination you choose to travel to, there are bound to be some things you want to see and do that aren’t completely child friendly. But how can you visit that art museum or go sunbathing when you have small person who’s going to get bored very quickly with you? If your hotel runs a kid’s club or babysitting services, take advantage of them! You’ll get a much-needed day to yourself, and your child will get to know some of the other children staying at the resort.

Don’t feel guilty for wanting to spend time alone – you’ll feel much better for it and so will your little one.

We hope the above tips alleviate some of the stress that comes with taking a young child on holiday alone. The most important thing to remember is to not be afraid to ask for help. Wherever you decide to go, we are sure you’ll both have a fantastic time.

Medical care around the world: key considerations

Whether you have a pre-existing medical condition or not, it is important to know what to do should you need medical attention abroad. Getting the right treatment or prescription that you need can be tricky when you’re in an unfamiliar country or aren’t near local amenities. This article will give you all the advice and information that you need should you require medical help abroad.

Medical care in the UK

In the UK we are served by the NHS when it comes to medical emergencies. Starting up in 1948, the NHS serves over 1 million people every 36 hours! If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, you will have to pay for prescriptions from the NHS (exceptions are available here) so make sure you know what it is you need during your time away.
We recommend travelling with one or two copies of your prescription in case you need medication while you’re travelling. Carrying these will enable any local doctors to help treat you should you require more of your medication or need emergency help. We also recommend asking your doctor to write a letter which outlines your prescribed medication including any general names that there might be for them (they may be called something different in other countries).

From 1st January 2021 rules around travel to Europe have changed, visit the Government website for up to date information on passports, EHIC, healthcare and more. We’ll update this page with more information as and when the Government release it.

Before you travel

Before you set off on your travels, you will need to check with your GP to find out if they will prescribe enough medication for your trip. Usually they will only do this if they feel that you will need the medication while you’re away. In some cases, if your GP agrees that you may need your medication while you’re away, they may give you a private prescription which means you will need to pay for it.
When packing your medication, ensure you have enough to last the full length of your trip including several extras in case your flight gets delayed, some get lost, or there are any other hiccups in your journey. Make sure that you pack your medication in your hand luggage in case your suitcase gets lost, you don’t want to be without it!

Specialist and prescription medication

You will need to check before you go that you can take your special medication into the country you’re travelling to. Some countries have bans on certain drugs, and the last thing you want is to have your medication confiscated! This also goes for checking the maximum quantity of your medication you’re allowed to take as some countries have a controlled limit that you can bring with you.
If you need to take any medical equipment with you, for example needles or syringes, keep them in their original correctly labelled packages with your medicine, as well as a copy of your prescription. You should also ensure that your medicines will stay in date during your trip. If your medicine has special requirements, such as having to be kept at room temperature or in a fridge, you should ask your pharmacist for advice. Travelling to hot countries with medicine with these requirements can require special attention so it is always wise to take precautions such as storing in an ice pack or cool bag for hot countries.

In case of emergencies

If you find yourself in a medical emergency, the best thing to do is not to panic as you could end up causing yourself more harm. In the UK, ambulances and treatment are free on the NHS; however this is not the case in other countries. Countries such as the USA charge for ambulance callouts and you could find yourself with a large bill should you not know about this.
It is also a good idea to keep some money in a bank account or on a credit card, in case you incur any charges should you get into medical trouble. This way you can pay off any hospital or transport bills that you may need once you’re out there.

Language Barriers

When travelling to a foreign country, it is always a good idea to learn a few phrases to help you when you’re there. This can be very beneficial if you get into a medical emergency or require assistance as a small amount of the local language can go a long way.
Learning to ask individuals if they speak English or if there is someone you can speak to who knows the language will help you greatly. In more tourist heavy areas you will be able to find someone that you can speak to, as a lot of places will use the English language. Ask your doctor to write down your medication and any allergies that you might have so that you can show these to a medical profession whilst abroad. You can also research before you go to see if these have other names in other countries.

Key considerations by continent

When you are travelling to another country, you should always check the countries’ healthcare costs and services. Checking for any recent outbreaks or epidemics will also prove useful as there may be some extra precautions that you need to take.

Europe

Healthcare in Europe is provided via a different range of systems, all of which are funded primarily through public taxation.
Having a travel insurance policy can also protect you from the expensive costs of ambulances, the costs if you have to stay overnight in hospital and some tests which would otherwise contribute towards a hefty medical bill.

From 1st January 2021 rules around travel to Europe have changed, visit the Government website for up to date information on passports, EHIC, healthcare and more. We’ll update this page with more information as and when the Government release it.

Asia

When visiting Asia, mosquito-borne diseases are the most common ailment that travellers pick up. Diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are among the illnesses that you won’t find at home but can pick up in Asian countries. We recommend that you take out travel insurance for when you travel to any Asian country as you will be required to pay for treatment if you require it. You will also need vaccinations before travelling to Asia. It is best to consult your doctor at least two months before travelling to ensure you receive all jabs you need.
To avoid being bitten by insects, it is best to ensure you’re covered with light clothing around dusk and dawn as this is when mosquitos are most prevalent. You should also wear a mosquito repellent and keep it with you in order to reapply on a regular basis. In your accommodation, make sure that you have mosquito nets around your bed for when you sleep or ensure that there are mosquito screens on your windows. You should also only drink bottled water as most of the local water in Asia is unsafe to drink.

Australasia

The Australian Government has signed Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements with the UK which means if you are a UK citizen and have applied for a Subclass Visa 410 before 1 December 1998, you are covered for the duration of your stay in Australia.
This healthcare will cover you for any necessary medical attention – for example if you fall ill or injure yourself when in the country. You will also have access to subsidised medicine (under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)) as well as Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatment, such as the doctors.
If you did not apply for a Subclass Visa 410 before 1 December 1998 then you will need to take out travel insurance for your trip in order to cover yourself in case of accidental injury or illness.

Africa

You will need to pay for any medical treatment while in Africa, so it is important that you have travel insurance which will cover your health, as well as any emergency funds in case you are required to pay any bills. You should also contact your GP two months before travelling in order to obtain the right vaccinations for the area of Africa you are visiting.
Water in Africa (depending on which area you are visiting) is sometimes not safe to drink. If you’re unsure then you should stick to bottled water that you are familiar with. You should also carry mosquito repellent with you in order to avoid malaria. You should also familiarise yourself with the most recent epidemics in the area you’re visiting. For example, Ebola and HIV are very common in parts of Africa so it is important that you know what signs to look for should you feel unwell.

USA and Caribbean

In the USA and the Caribbean you will be required to pay for any medical assistance that you may need. This includes medication, ambulances and hospital treatment. It is highly recommended that you take out travel insurance when you travel to these destinations as healthcare costs can be very pricy. For example, in the USA, ambulance call out costs can range anywhere from hundreds to sometimes thousands of dollars. You should also be sure to check when your travel insurance covers you. Sometimes you won’t be covered if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
There are occasional breakouts in some places in America – for example mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus (WNV). These can also spread to the Caribbean, where viruses such as Chikungunya are a common problem.

North America

You will need to pay for any medical attention in North America, the same as you would with mainland America. Malaria is not a threat in North America unless you have contracted it elsewhere. We advise that you consult your GP 8 weeks before travelling in case there are any vaccinations that you may require, such as tetanus.

Cruise ships

If you become ill on a cruise ship you may feel like you’re helpless, but this isn’t the case. When boarding your ship, make it known to the medical team if you have any medication that you need to take or have any special health requirements. If you have an accident or suddenly feel unwell, you should consult a member of staff immediately and they will be able to help you.
Most cruise ships have a fully equipped team of medical professionals who can help you in an emergency. Cruise ships have equipment such as x-ray machines, ventilators and will also be able to do blood tests. However, more advanced technology such as MRI and CT scans are not readily available. If you need these you may be air-lifted to the nearest hospital. For more information on cruise ship health emergencies, consult our page here.

In summary

In summary, we recommend consulting your local GP before travelling to another country, to ensure that there are no vaccinations that you require. You should also take copies of your prescriptions to prove they are yours and to help any pharmacies or doctors whilst you are on your trip.

You should also take out a good level of travel insurance that will cover you and your pre-existing medical conditions.

From 1st January 2021 rules around travel to Europe have changed, visit the Government website for up to date information on passports, EHIC, healthcare and more. We’ll update this page with more information as and when the Government release it.

Travelling with high blood pressure

As with many chronic health conditions, high blood pressure can make planning a holiday more stressful than normal; especially for an activity that’s supposed to be relaxing in the first place. However, with the correct preparation, you can still have an enjoyable and fun time on your holidays even if you have hypertension.

Take a look at the travel tips that we have gathered below, to ensure that you get the most out of your holiday.

Check with your GP

    • Before you do anything else, it’s crucial to understand the effect that travelling abroad may have on your high blood pressure, and no one is better suited to inform you of how to best manage your particular case of hypertension, than your GP.
    • A pre-holiday consultation with your GP will be able to refresh your knowledge of any triggers to your hypertension, allowing you to take the appropriate precautions, even when out of your normal comfort zone.
    • Your GP may also be able to recommend a change in medication to better suit the climate that you are travelling to, or the seasonal weather you are expecting at your destination; particularly extreme heat or cold may necessitate stronger medication, or greater care on your part.

(Source: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/airline-travel-high-blood-pressure-15651.html)

Establish your medication requirements

  • A few useful tips to keep in mind when travelling abroad with any kind of medication; always carry more than you need, and ensure that your supply is spread across the different luggage that you’re taking. This way, if a piece of luggage goes missing, you can be sure that you have access to at least enough medication to get by.
  • On the same tangent, it’s also a good idea to carry a spare prescription with you, or a copy thereof; so that if some of your medication goes missing, or it turns out that you need more than you originally thought you required, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
  • Bear in mind that you’ll most likely be entering a different time zone when you travel abroad, which means that you’ll need to adjust when you take your medication; your usual routines will need to be revised to accommodate this change. It’s definitely worth consulting your GP about this, to ensure that you won’t be without medication for a prolonged period of time, at any stage of your holiday.
  • Make sure that you understand the requirements and limitations of the country you intend to travel to; ensuring that you acquire any necessary permits long before your departure date. At the same time, bear in mind that medication may only be available under different names, or in different quantities when abroad; so be sure to do the research before you leave.
  • Airlines will also often have restrictions on how much medication can be freely transported on their service; so make sure you check their regulations, and enquire personally if there are still uncertainties that you feel need clearing up. The medication that you are taking with you on holiday may be illegal in the country that you intend to visit, so it’s also a good idea to carry a GP’s letter, to identify the medication and make it clear to authorities as to why you need to take it.

Understand how travelling will affect your condition

  • If you suffer from high blood pressure, you have will most likely have a higher susceptibility to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when travelling by plane. This makes it doubly important for you to try and stay mobile during the flight, and to stay properly hydrated. Not doing so further increases the odds of developing DVT. (Source: http://www.patient.co.uk/blogs/sarah-says/deep-vein-thrombosis-more-than-just-a-pain-in-the-leg, http://www.webmd.com/dvt/deep-vein-thrombosis-complications)
  • Only consume low salt food during flights; the snack food served on planes are especially high in salt, so avoid them if possible. Bring some low salt snacks on-board if need be, to reduce the risk of trouble occurring.
  • To reduce the risk of DVT during the flight, request an aisle seat, or a seat in front of an emergency exit. This will allow you to move frequently, either by stretching, or walking up and down the aisle; helping your circulation.
  • Your GP may suggest that you use an oxygen tank for the duration of the flight. Whether you rent one from the airline, or bring your own, it’s important to phone the airline ahead of time. This way, you can work out what regulations they may have, and what action you will have to take to secure an oxygen supply.

Plan your itinerary accordingly

  • As with plane travel, it’s important to avoid dehydration while on the holiday itself, whether this is caused solely by temperature, over exertion, intake of certain foods and drinks, or a combination of some or all of the above.
  • It may sound obvious, but it’s also important to avoid any of the everyday hypertension triggers that you may have; whether its stress, lack of sleep, bad diet, lack of exercise, forgetting to take your medication, or any others. It’s essential that you continue to counter the effects of these triggers, and maintain a stable, relaxed lifestyle while on your holiday.

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