4 Tips for Traveling with Kids Internationally
You love to travel. Seeing new places and things, trying new foods and drinks, and spending time at a romantic getaway have all brought you very fond and exciting memories at a time before you had children. Now that you have little ones, you want them to also experience the thrill of learning about different cultures. Travelling with children may mean some changes to your travel routine, but it’s possible. You may bring your children to a country that doesn’t speak the same language as them, eat foods they’ve never tasted, and possibly even have to get additional vaccinations for diseases less common in the U.S., but it will all be worth the extra preparation in the end. With a bit of planning and realistic expectations, you can take your family vacation abroad.
Planning your trip
Any trip abroad is going to be a huge change for a small child. If this is your first time traveling with your children, plan for a slower pace than what you’d normally do. Keep in mind your child’s normal schedule. Do they normally take naps in the afternoon? Do they eat snacks throughout the day? If they do, what kind of snacks can you carry? Another thing to consider is hotel accommodations. Some hotels offer special family discounts and complimentary breakfast. Supervised childcare may be an incentive, but be sure to ask questions about things like the number of children and in what age groups are cared for there. Finally, traveling with little ones requires a lot more things you’ll need to take with you. This could include diapers, wipes, formula, toys, or many other things. You may find it helpful to send your additional luggage prior to your arrival so there’s less for you to keep up with while traveling there.
Important documents to bring
All children, including infants, may be required to have their own passport or Trusted Traveler Program document for U.S. entry. To check specific passport requirements visit The Department of Homeland Security website. Be sure to apply for your passport and your child’s passport several months in advance to avoid additional fees to have them rushed. If you need a visa for your destination, your child may be required to have one too and the fee will be the same as yours. If you have an adopted child, you must take their adoption papers. Additionally, if you're the only parent traveling with your children, getting a passport may require the consent of the other parent. Regardless of your marital status, you might be asked for proof of consent from the other parent for your child to travel. Be prepared for this situation, if the name on your child's passport is not the same as yours, or if your child bears little resemblance to you.
In most cases, the documents you will need for your trip will be your child’s birth certificate, your marriage certificate (if applicable), and a signed consent letter from the other parent confirming you can travel with your child. If you are a single parent with sole custody, you may want to bring a copy of the court custody document in place of a letter from the other parent. If the other parent is deceased, you may also need to provide proof of that. To confirm which documents are needed for any of these scenarios outlined, please visit the Department of Homeland Security website for additional details.
Food and Drink
With small children you may be tempted to pack a lot of snacks or mac-n-cheese, but unless your child has a serious food allergy it’s best to encourage them to try new foods. When eating out in countries with poor standards of sanitation and hygiene, always eat at busy places where the turnover of food will be fast, and avoid buffets: they're notorious for harboring the bacteria that cause travelers’ diarrhea. In some countries the tap water may not be safe to drink as well, so you may need to boil, filter, or sterilize your own, or buy bottled water.
For infants, you will want to stay informed on the latest regulations for carrying liquids like baby foods, drinks and creams on planes. The standard instructions are to not carry over 100ml of any single item, although exceptions are usually made for essential medicines or supplies for children under the age of two.
Visit your doctor
Check the vaccines and medications list on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and plan to visit your travel health doctor 4-6 weeks before your trip to get vaccines or medications you may need before traveling and while abroad. When making the appointment, mention the ages of your children and ask if they need to come to the appointment with you or schedule separate appointments. When you go to your appointment, bring everyone's vaccination records and ask your travel health doctor to write down their blood types for you. Both you and your children should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Ask your travel health doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from to country other than the US. Your travel health doctor may also provide you with a prescription for antibiotics to carry with you in case you become ill.
Concentra Travel Health Specialists can provide travel health immunization services for people traveling to a wide variety of destinations, supporting safe and healthy travel while away from home. To schedule an appointment at a Concentra Travel Health Center near you, call us at 1-888-711-2974 Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. central standard time.
Homeland Security. (2015, July 21). Retrieved August 12, 2015, from http://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/travel-overseas
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Hetter, K. (2013, May 8). Can taking your child abroad actually be fun? - CNN.com. Retrieved August 12, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/08/travel/kid-travel-international/
Destinations. (2015, July 31). Retrieved August 12, 2015, from http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list
De Francisco, F. (2008, January 20). 50 Top Tips for Travelling with Kids. Retrieved August 12, 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2008/jan/20/8