Traveling abroad as a family is a wonderful way to connect with your kids while exploring new places and creating lasting memories. Of course anytime you travel with young kids it can be a bit stressful, especially when leaving the country. Here are my top 5 big tips for traveling abroad with kids that will help to ease the stress and get your prepared for your next adventure.
1) Always make sure you have the proper documentation for EVERYONE traveling with you.
Be sure you have your passports and legal documentation ready to go for everyone, this means adults, teens, youngsters and even infants need passports and proper documentation. If applying for passports, be sure to do so 10-12 weeks ahead of your travel date as these can take some time. There is an expedited option for passports but this cost extra. Some countries do require that your passport be valid for at least 6 months prior to, or before leaving their country so make sure to check the passport policies of your destination. If you already have a passport, be sure to check that the expiration date isn’t before or while you’re traveling. If you’ve recently gotten married or changed your name and it’s different then that listed in your passport, you will need to provide legal documentation to prove that name change, such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate or both.
If only one parent is traveling abroad with children you MUST have a signed, notarized paper signed by the other parent stating that the children are allowed to leave the country and that the traveling parent has authorization for medical treatment. The note must state, the guardian’s name, authorization to take your child, in addition to where and when you are going. To be extra safe, attach a photo copy of the other parent’s passport and the child’s birth certificate.
For passport and visa applications go HERE.
You can check to see what kind of travel documents you need through the U.S. Department of State’s foreign entry requirements page
2) Try finding an overnight flight for easier travel and make sure you have local currency.
Flying overnight when heading to Europe is relatively easy since most flights are overnight anyways. Flying at night will help you and your kiddos avoid the dreaded sleep pattern disruption and give you a leg up when dealing with jet lag. Plus sleeping kids mean quite kids and you don’t have to worry about entertaining them on the flight! Also, be sure to have local currency of the destination you are traveling to OR have cash ready. You don’t know if credit cards will work or be taken but no one rejects cash, so better to have some then to have hungry kiddos. I suggest carrying at least $100 on you when flying.
You can visit your local Currency Exhchange Bank or check www.xe.com for the current exchange rates.
3) Check your child’s car seat for airline approval.
You can do this by looking for a sticker stating that the seat is plane-appropriate. For the car seat to fit right on the plane, it must be no wider than 16 in. Please not that if your child weighs less than 20 pounds, the AAP recommends using a rear-facing seat. If your child weighs between 20 and 40 pounds, the seat should face forward. Children over 40 pounds can use the regular seat and seat belts on the plane safely. Remember, if you have an infant that is under 2 years old, they are considered a lap infant and will not be charged on most flights for a ticket HOWEVER! If you are planning on having them in a car seat during the flight, (which I highly recommend for all international flights) you must purchase a ticket for them.
4) Get your shots, schedule a checkup and prep a Dr. List for your travels
Different destinations require certain shots and immunizations. Be sure to schedule a doctor visit to make sure your family is up to date and everyone has what they need. If you aren’t sure of the immunization requirements for certain countries, you can check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site (www.cdc.gov/travel/vaccinat.htm), which has information on recommended immunizations. Also, while at the doctor have them look over your family, especially children and infants to make sure they are travel ready. Ears and throats should be examined for infants. You should also ask the generic names of any medications you or your children use or may need so that they are easier to find if need be while you’re traveling.
You should also consider checking with the U.S Embassy located in the area you’re traveling to for a list of English speaking doctors that may be available to you while abroad. You should be able to check the The U.S. Department of State Web page (http://usembassy.state.gov/) that provides links to embassy and consulate Web sites, which generally contain a list of doctors. You should also consider contacting your insurance agency and asking them their policies regarding overseas travel and care.
5) Consider travel insurance
Anytime you travel abroad, especially with your entire family, I highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Not only does it protect your belongings if lost, stolen or damaged, it also protects you from medical incidents, travel issues such as canceled flights and more. God forbid you or your kiddos fall horribly ill in a country where your insurance isn’t valid and you’re stuck with thousands of dollars in bills and unable to leave the country because of it. This is where travel insurance comes in. Personally, I recommend Allianz, who are the leaders in U.S travel insurance and have policies for any budget.
Wishing you all happy and safe travels!!