Exploration is the key to intellect. It is the single most important thing you can do to expand your mind. Taking your children on vacation with you is an excellent way to get their hearts caught in the net of curiosity. Traveling with your children is an amazing element of parenting. You get to experience the world and make memories together as a family. Nothing could ever ruin this time together.

Except, perhaps, getting sick while on or right before the vacation of the century.

When your children are sick, it can feel like the entire world is crashing down on you — so being in a whole new world while they are ill is an even tougher experience. Some parents are used to traveling with chronically sick children and have practiced for this throughout their entire parenthood, but other parents may not be as prepared. Being prepared for any scenario is instinctually part of a parent’s psyche, however there are a few things to keep in mind when traveling with kids to make sure that even in the worst of times, you can have the best of times.

Check Before You Fly

If you plan on flying to your destination with a sick child, it is important to check TSA guidelines before boarding your flight. TSA can have strict rules when it comes to traveling with foreign germs, so you have to make sure you know the “deets” before you take your seats.

Notify Your Pediatrician

Illness doesn’t always happen overseas; your child can still get sick at home right before you leave. If this is the case, be sure to talk to your pediatrician before travel. If your child is exhibiting common symptoms, you may mistake the illness for something less dangerous than it could be. Better safe than sorry!

Prepare for Comfort

Traveling isn’t always comfortable — sometimes you are stuck in tiny airplane seats, crowded train cars or stinky buses. Be sure you have anything necessary to make your sick child feel comfortable while traveling. Bring blankets, neck pillows, comfortable shoes, snacks, and toys. It may feel like a lot to carry, but your child will thank you when they are distracted from their illness by comfort and enjoyment.

Secure Travel Insurance

Sometimes a childhood illness can turn into something serious quickly. Temperatures can rise, fluids can be expelled and things can go from zero to 60 in a heartbeat. If this is the case, you may need to speak special emergency attention, which can get expensive, fast. Travel insurance will help protect you wallet in these scenarios.

Pack Medications

Packing prescriptions are most likely part of your routine. It’s the other medication that we forget to pack — the over-the-counter stuff. Make sure you have plenty of cold medicine, allergy medicine, nausea medicine, Pepto Bismol, whatever you need to take care of those minor symptoms right when they start.

Prepare for Accidents, Of All Varieties

Sick kids can be a messy business. Be prepared for any and all kinds of messes. That’s right, I mean stuff coming out of both ends and those other little messes like spilled medicine and sticky juice. Be sure to pack a spare change of clothes for your kids as well as a pair of comfortable shoes should walking become impossible. If you’re going to pack paper towels and other easy clean-up tools, think green during your travels and buy the environmentally friendly stuff.

Stay Hydrated

Water, water, water, pedialyte, water, water, ginger ale, water, water. Repeat. Keeping hydrated is the quickest way to recovery, and you know you will be itching to hit the beach after several hours of traveling and unpacking. Help combat the symptoms and make your child feel better by keeping them well hydrated at all times.

Don’t Forget About The Power of Technology

This is 2017. By now, I am sure your child has had some kind of experience with technology. Being the amazing parent that you are, you have probably already bought your kid their first LeapPad, iPad, or laptop. Make sure you bring it with you. Technology is an excellent distraction from illness, and it will help the time go by more quickly.

Bring Spare Clothes for Yourself

I don’t think I have ever met another mom or dad who hasn’t had some form of a sticky mess make its way onto their shirts or pants when their kids are sick. It is practically unavoidable. Pack yourself extra clothes in your carry-on just in case you become the victim of another, let’s say, excursion.

Don’t Break Down Until You Get There

Getting there is always the hardest part. You want to give up, fly home, unpack and sink into your couch. Don’t give into the temptation of cutting your vacation short! Make it to your hotel, make it to the hostel, make it to the theme park, do what you have to do to get yourself there and you will find that the fun just falls naturally into place.