By on May 7, 2013

The commonest reasons for requests for hotel visits – which I do as a normal part of my work – are respiratory infections (coughs, colds and influenza), and stomach upsets (diarrhoea and vomiting).  Often the patients are children, even babies, who have been brought by their parents from an overseas country on holiday.  While it is good that the world economy seems  to be improving and the Yen is weaker, so people feel more inclined to visit Japan, I do wonder about the wisdom of long-distance travel with young children.  A child may become ill on holiday and this causes great anxiety for the parents.  Confinement to a hotel room for some days may follow, or occasionally hospital treatment is needed, and the holiday is spoiled.  Such illnesses may happen because of the unavoidable mixing with crowds at airports and hotels and thus exposure to viruses which may not have been encountered before.


Young children like predictability and a familiar routine, and I sometimes wonder if the purpose of the journey is more for the parents’ sake rather than the children’s.  The idea of visiting a crowded amusement park, where the time to enter an attraction may be measured in hours, is something children may not readily appreciate.  Apart from all the waiting in lines, do young children really enjoy taking a ride into a dark cavern with a water splash where a skeleton suddenly jumps out at you with a lecherous laugh?  Once I visited a well known establishment on the outskirts of Tokyo with my young son.  We entered a ‘haunted house’ but after a few minutes he sensibly decided to head for the exit as he said he didn’t want to be frightened.  Again, it seems  these kinds of places may appeal more to adults than to children.  Give a child a couple of large cardboard boxes: they can have hours of fun as their imaginations run free – he or she can be can be an astronaut, a train driver, or create a marvellous hideaway.


Although some resorts in south east Asia may safely offer sea, sand, sun and fun, I would in principle draw the line at taking children to countries where there is a risk of malaria, except perhaps to visit relatives when appropriate precautions can be taken.  But why not avoid an overseas flight and explore the country where you live?


If you want to travel overseas with young children, at least stock up on your favourite home remedies, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for pain or fever, and calamine lotion for sunburn, as these may not be readily obtainable in a new country.  On the other hand, one shouldn’t overdo it.  Once on a hotel visit in Tokyo where a couple was staying with four children, I saw they had brought a large holdall full of drugs, including several types of antibiotics, ‘just in case’!


Dr. Gabriel Symonds is a general practitioner who runs the Tokyo British Clinic, established 1992.  Comprehensive medical services, including the care of babies and children and travel medical advice are available.   Tel: 03-5459 6099.     www.tokyobrishclinic.com



About Dr. Gabriel Symonds

Dr. Gabriel Symonds was the director of the Tokyo British Clinic. The clinic closed down in May 2014 after serving the expatriate community for 20+ years. Dr. Symonds has retired and the Tokyo British Clinic is now closed.
Dr Symonds will continue to live in Tokyo and may be contacted by e-mail over any questions concerning medical records or related matters: symonds@tokyobritishclinic.com
He will be available from another address for:
smoking cessation
circumcision information Tel: (03) 5458-6099 www.tokyobritishclinic.com