Jane Wilson-Howarth


Your Child Abroad: a travel health guide

Publisher: Bradt Travel Guides (UK)
Author: Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth & Dr Matthew Ellis
Page count: 212
RRP: £7.49
ISBN: 978-1841621203 / ASIN B012TRZDQ2
First edition: Your Child's Health Abroad: a manual for travelling parents 978-1898323631
An updated e-PDF version (2014) can be purchased via the Bradt Travel Guides website
A kindle version was launched during the summer of 2015 and is available direct from Bradt Travel Guides (buying direct from the publisher helps them and the author) or via amazon

Your Child Abroad: a travel health guide is a down-to-earth health guide for anyone travelling overseas with children, whether on a family holiday or a long-stay in the tropics. Reassuring and practical, it shows how to deal with situations ranging from minor illnesses to life-threatening emergencies. A checklist of symptoms for common complaints and a range of useful contacts and further sources of information will prove invaluable for parents who are far from on-the-ground medical attention.

Fully updated and revised for the second and now a third edition, this guide remains the best source of advice about planning and preparation, disease prevention, recognising symptoms and how to react. There are also, of course, up-to-the-minute details of the full range of anti-malarial drugs, insect repellents, and immunisations.

The guide features:

  •     Accidents and how to cope afterwards
  •     First-aid guidance
  •     What to include in a medical kit
  •     Region-by-region analysis of potential health risks
  •     Antimalarials and bite-prevention gismos
  •     Advice on diagnosis and treatment
  •     Basic medical questions in five languages
  •     Natural and environmental hazards, including parasites
  •     Who is fit to fly
  •     Travelling with allergies
  •     Tips galore on travelling with children and medical treatment abroad
  •     Case histories to learn from
  •     Written by practising doctors who have travelled widely, and are parents as well as child-health experts
  •     Special notes for expatriates


Working as a doctor in the UK and also living abroad with my young family, I understood how scary life can be, especially if there are health concerns in unfamiliar environments. I knew how difficult it is to be a parent, and how challenging it is to travel with small children and I wanted to write this book long before I had the confidence to pull it off. Then, in Kathmandu, I met Matthew, a lively garrulous paediatrician who had travelled into some pretty hair-raising situations.

It was only with his encyclopaedic knowledge that the book could come to fruition. I could say from my commonsensical GP perspective that a certain symptom was unlikely to be a sign of serious illness. Matthew could say with certainly that this symptom meant all would be end well, or alternatively that evacuation was necessary.

Once Matthew and I had decided we could write a book that would give empowering but safe and reassuring guidance, then my loyal friend Hilary Bradt undertook to publish it. It has enjoyed good circulation in two paperback editions and it is pleasing that Bradt Guides have allowed us to update our work for a third edition.

In the interlude Matthew and I have collaborated on a chapter in a paediatric handbook The Manual of Childhood Infections - this so-called "Blue Book" was published (by Oxford University Press and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health). A copy was presented to Princess Anne on 6th April 2011. A new edition of this was launched in 2016 and an update is due out in 2024 or 2025.


It had been a strenuous day: 1,500m of climbing. The ascent from the flimsy bamboo bridge across the river had been steep. But the children had enjoyed it. Alexander and Andrew were on some fantasy ascent of Everest, where they were high-altitude Sherpas shooting the occasional yeti and looking after Katharine who was the queen; she revelled in being able to ride in a huge basket slung from a Sherpa porter’s headband. Katharine and little Sebastian sang to each other as they were carried up, or listened to Lorna (who seemed to have a lot more spare breath than me) tell stories or lead the singing.

We walked up through terraces, then forests, out into alpine meadows. Our progress was punctuated by frequent snack-stops for the children. Then finally we reached the ridge at 3,000m where amongst pine forest twittering with birds we looked out to the glistening clean snow on Dudh Kundha glacier and Gauri Shankar himal. We camped by the temple. In the morning the lama let us inside and encouraged Sebastian and the older children to beat the huge drums used during worship. We were in no rush to move on; the children helped the wife of the lama feed her fluffy twin yak calves and the dads gave the kids rides in the gompa wheelbarrow. Alexander said ‘Why don’t we stay here for ever?’

To some, having children may seem as conducive to travelling as having your feet set in concrete. Travel with children is undoubtedly more of an effort and needs more planning, but life does not stop when we become parents.... Children are great diplomats and have led us to innumerable delightful encounters with people we otherwise would never have met.


Electrocution in Lombok - an Indonesian case history
(Page 59)

She was in a terrible state when she phoned:
‘My son’s been electrocuted – is his heart all right?’
‘Is he still connected to the supply? Is he conscious?’ I needed some facts.
‘He seems OK; my husband thought quickly and turned off the mains. But I’m worried about his heart. Can I come around? Can you check him out for me?’

The nine-year-old boy looked in remarkably good shape when the family scorched into my driveway in Lombok minutes later and I could reassure them that there were no long-term effects or scars on his heart or internal organs. But the boy did have an awful-looking full-thickness burn two inches across on the palm of his hand where he had grabbed a live electrical extension cable.

He had lost all the skin including the nerve endings of part of the palm so that the wound was almost completely painless. The boy’s mother was meticulous in keeping the burn clean and changed the dressings daily; so, despite my predictions that infection would set in and despite tropical heat and flies, the wound remained clean and healed nicely with fresh skin growing back over the next few weeks.

Mountain sickness
(page 88)

Two hazards may not spring to mind when planning a mountain journey. The first is that the sun at altitude, especially if reflected off snow, is very strong and sizzles the skin; it is possible to get sunburned inside the nose so don’t forget to anoint under it and consider applying a little sunscreen just within the nostrils. Secondly the Himalayan region and the central Andes are hotspots for filth-to-mouth diseases: even on a trek there is a risk of severe diarrhoea.


  • "This book is just amazing. It answered all my questions and provides a fantastic section on signs to watch for if your child might be coming down with something. I would recommend that anyone traveling with kids should have a copy on them on them at all times!!"
    Fiona M. M. Smith

  • I really loved this book - lots of good info on traveling off the beaten path with your kids - this book was very reassuring. If you'll be traveling to developing countries with your kids, you should definitely give it a look.

  • This book is so informative and so interesting, it is absolutely mandatory for parents traveling with children in areas of the world where there are health issues beyond your experience. There is a prodigious amount of up-to-date and accessible information packed into this volume--and it's the kind of book that you want to read from cover to cover, even the parts less relevant to your needs. My husband and I recently returned from a six-month sojourn in Thailand, Laos and Burma with our four children (aged 7, 5, 3 and 1). We carried this book as part of our medical kit, and it was invaluable in preparing that medical kit and also in helping to plan our trip itinerary (i.e., the book convinced us that malaria was the one nonnegotiable health issue). Memorable anecdotes from expatriate and traveling families pepper the book. There's nothing else like this out there.
    Wendy Leonard (New York)

  •  “reassuring and comprehensive Bradt guide to prevention and treatment in extreme (and not so extreme) environments. Includes checklists to aid judgement about when you need to get to a doctor and whether evacuation is necessary”
    Geographical magazine

  • “the answer for stress-free independent family travel”
    Outdoor Pursuits magazine

  • “Essential handbook for the more adventurous family traveller”
    Junior magazine

  • “The most useful medical guide”
    The Times

  • “Written by a travel health expert and a paediatrician, this authoritative guide is worth having in your suitcase... particularly if you are going somewhere adventurous.”
    Daily Telegraph

  • "many parents are nervous about travelling with young children.....this book, written by people who have lived overseas, tells you what you need to know"
    Rated No 3 of the 50 Best Books for New Parents by The Independent newspaper

  • “[the] one book whose every page is specifically aimed at [travelling] kids... delivers exactly what it promises... derides exaggerated tales of sudden death by snake-bite...”
    The Guardian, London

  • “Trekking families will find Your Child’s Health Abroad invaluable.”
    The Sunday Times, London

  • The updated and expanded second edition of the classic traveling parents' guide Your Child Abroad covers everything from tropical jungles to a visit to Europe, offering tips on how to handle both minor problems and emergencies and including the latest medical updates for countries and problems. From handling a child's allergy problems overseas to new antimalarials and a regional risk analysis. Your Child Abroad provides plenty of precautions and risk assessments to make for informed parents.
    Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

  • Wonderful - took a lot of worry out of travelling with a baby This book is an excellent reference book to take on any holiday when you are travelling with babies or small children. We took it to Nepal with us when we took our 7 month old baby, Jamie, and it provided to be an invaluable source of information and advice. It is worth reading before you travel as it has useful tips on what to take and what to avoid. It is clearly laid out and well written so that any concerned parent would find it useful. It has excellent checklists that you can use to determine if the symptoms your child has are serious in any way and provides some excellent advice. Every time my husband was worrying about any health issues I would tell him to read THE book! I would highly recommend it to any parent travelling especially if they are travelling to a remote destination such as within Asia, Africa or Latin America. We still use it now when our son gets ill - one of the best health advice books I have come across - one of a kind!
    s.l.parker (UK)

  • “a timely and relevant publication. It embraces the parental perspective providing sound practical information and advice… With the help of case stories, the authors create a personal tone without distraction from the key points… This book is an essential resource of every travelling parent.”
    Travel Wise: newsletter of the British Travel Health Association

  • “A lot of literature about travelling with children offers no more than elementary advice. One notable exception is Your Child Abroad. It’s definitely worth investing in”
    The Sunday Times

  • “Peace of mind has rarely been so immediate and compact.”
    The Sunday Times, London

  • “Parents considering taking children to developing countries would be wise to obtain a copy of this manual as it not only offers practical advice for disease prevention and treatment based on personal experiences but also gives inspiration to parents who may have doubts about travelling with offspring abroad. Travel health advisors will also find this book a useful addition to their library of travel health literature.”
    Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

  • “a good point of reference for parents considering trekking with children”
    The Independent, London

  • “detailed manual packed with common-sense, medically accurate advice – it is probably worth buying even if you are holidaying in Cornwall.”
    Practical Parenting

  • “The authors write that ‘the secret of pleasurable travel with children is to ensure that you are within your limits of coping’. I would add a second essential: this excellent manual for travelling parents.”
    Simon Calder of the Independent newspaper, London

  • “includes an impressive number of lists… the authors, both parents as well as doctors, offer practical and reassuring advice as relevant in Corfu as Kathmandu.”
    The Times, London

  • “adventurous parents…should pack a copy…It is packed with sensible advice about how to avoid exotic illnesses and what to do in emergencies (such as being burnt by hot buffalo milk)…it is also a delight to read.”
    Daily Telegraph, London

  • “compulsive reading…tips are relevant for any foreign holiday…extremely well laid out.”
    The Guardian, London

  • “offers advice on everything from keeping children occupied on flights to avoiding food poisoning…”
    The Express, London

  • “interspersed with light hearted anecdotes which serve to reassure parents that most problems are usually minor and easily dealt with, despite how terrifying they seem at the time.”
    Sesame, newsletter of the Scientific Exploration Society

  • “This essential resource doles out practical advice that's as relevant in Corfu and Kathmandu”
    Mail on Sunday

  • “comprehensive and comforting book for parents”
    Dr Deborah Mills, Travel Health practitioner, Brisbane

  • straightforward advice... in an easy-to-use format
    Geographical Magazine, London

  • "Sunburn, tummy ache, jellyfish, vampire bats and assassin bugs - they're all in here, along with comprehensive advice on first aid, what to pack in a medical kit and how to ask basic questions in five languages. Whether you are off to Amsterdam or the Amazon, this is the perfect family health companion"
    Conde Nast Traveller magazine

  • This superb, informative and easily read guide should be familiar to every family doctor and a necessary component of all practice libraries. Travel to sometimes remote places is increasingly undertaken for occupational reasons but also for family vacations. The steep rise in the number of airborne family journeys testifies to the attractions of far off places. These places are usually safe if the traveller is aware enough and properly prepared to avoid sometimes common assaults by insect vectors and other potential hazards. From extensive personal experience and with a magnificent skill at presenting necessary information on page and website in preparation of an overseas trip, the authors make an extremely clear presentation. Indeed they are to be congratulated on a major contribution to the travel literature. This handbook should ensure that experiences of travel abroad will be as safe as they are pleasurable. I am delighted that an updated e-version is planned for later in 2013.
    Prof B.W.M. McGuinness, MD

  • “We found your book on traveling abroad with children extremely useful and inspiring.... thanks for writing such a wonderful resource for those of us that choose to travel with our kids. For all the discouraging advice we encountered when we told people we were traveling with 10 month old Ann, she was the healthiest one of the group! She loved the attention, and really thrived in the Malagasy forest.”
    Karen Samonds, Montreal

  • “Useful… down-to-earth… practical… reassuring… how to deal with everything from sunburn to scorpion bites…. full of excellent advice that will be appreciated not only by parents but by most adult travellers too.”
    Bird Watching magazine

  • “reassurance... practical, reliable information”
    Times Educational Supplement

  • “Doctor Jane knows everything about jabs, bugs and jippy tummies; indispensable”
    Dea Birkett in The Guardian

  • The undersrtandable suggestions for taking care of a child's wellbeing extend from planning a trip to the eventual return home.
    Stephen Walker in Travel Resources: an annotated guide

  • Where to buy

    Ideally purchase from BradtTravelGuides rather than amazon - if you can. They are currently selling it at a discount for £7.49

    The paperback is pretty much out of print now but you might find it via
    www.amazon.co.uk | www.fishpond.com.au

    The 3rd edition for kindle readers abd tablets was launched during the summer of 2015 and is available direct from Bradt and also through amazon.