#1 Packing Hack for Moms | vlog | International Travel with Kids
How to Travel Internationally with Kids
Travelling internationally with kids can be challenging, but it is also a great opportunity to bond as a family. To prepare for your travels, start by getting all of the necessary paperwork completed. Pack lightly and prepare fun and interesting carry-on bags for the kids. When you get to your destination, employ a kid-friendly guide and ask the locals for activity suggestions.
Planning Your Trip
Divide up pre-trip tasks.If you have an adult travel partner, then split up the various aspects of planning and preparation. One of you can handle creating packing lists. The other can start contacting hotels and looking into entertainment options. If you are the only adult travelling, then create a to-do list of all items to complete pre-trip.
- Older children may also enjoy helping you plan the trip. Depending on their age and abilities, they could research the destination, find fun family activities, select restaurants or dining options, and so on.
- In this early planning phase, you may want to visit the Family Travel Association website. This free site provides tips and guidance for how to safely travel with an extended family.
Build up to more ambitious excursions.It is best to start off slowly when travelling as a family. If possible, create a list of all of the destinations that you are interested in and visit the easiest ones first. This usually means going to locations where they speak the same language as you and your family. You may also want to prioritize the comfort of your children, which can eliminate some nature-based trips.
- You may want to start out with day trips to see what items are essential for your family. You may find, for instance, that you need to have a stroller for younger children, and therefore need to choose stroller-accessible destinations and outings.
- If you are taking a trip that focuses on a hobby, such as surfing, just make sure that the location offers age-appropriate options for your children as well.
Tailor your trip to your kids.Think about what your kids like and dislike, what they enjoy and what they avoid. Pay attention to their personalities as well. If your child is more shy and reserved, then a trip that pushes their boundaries too much could backfire. If your child loves learning new languages, then going outside your native language could work well.
Invest in portable kid gear.If you will travel with a baby, then look into a quality baby carrier, sling, or backpack. You may also want to get a lightweight collapsible stroller and a portable cot for naps. For safety, you may also want a good car seat to use on the airplane and in cars as well. A fabric high chair and collapsible crib are other items you can consider.
- Find out what amenities your hotel provides for infants and children.
- Be aware that some car rental agencies can offer car seats, but the quality and condition of these seats can vary widely. Make sure to get more details before travelling.
Get all required vaccinations.Go the CDC or NHS website for an updated list of suggested vaccines. The recommendations and requirements will vary according to your country of destination. Make sure to check these lists well in advance, as it can take months to get all of the required vaccines in some situations.
- If you are in a rush, you may want to consider going to a travel clinic in your area. It is also generally a good idea to get the vaccinations listed in both the required and recommended categories.
- Make sure to carry copies of the official vaccination records for all of your children when travelling. This will help you to avoid any issues with entry or exit into your destination and origin countries.
Verify that your passports are valid.As you start to consider your trip, take a look at your passports. It is a good idea to travel with passports that are valid for at least three months after your return. You may also need passports for all of your children, including infants, so check the age restrictions for your origin and destination countries. If you need new passports, make sure to apply for these months in advance.
- Make sure to carry paper copies of your family’s passports with you. It is also a good idea to scan your passports or other identifying documents and attach them to an email to yourself prior to leaving.
- If applicable, bring any custodial paperwork with you.
- Child kidnapping is a significant world problem and many countries will restrict the movement of families without the correct documentation. Get a notarized letter with both parents' signatures showing that you are okay to travel with your children for the dates of the trip.
Pack light.You will naturally move slower when you travel as a family, so to lessen the burden on your back and to keep yourself moving, minimize the number and weight of your bags. Forego the heavy strollers and opt for the light collapsible ones. Plan to do laundry on the trip. Don’t pack duplicate clothing items unless absolutely necessary.
- It can be tempting to add a number of items in the period right before you walk out the door. Resist this urge by creating a final packing list and following it carefully.
- Pack your carry-on bags with enough clothing for a few days in case your other luggage gets lost. This is especially important when it comes to kid-friendly necessities, such as diapers.
Travelling to Your Destination
Give yourself plenty of time.Expect delays in the airport and in train stations. Arrive early and try to keep your cool in the long lines. Plan to distract your kids by playing games or giving them small toys to play with. Also, be aware that travelling with children will slow down your progress through safety screenings.
Know and adhere to security procedures.Go online to the website that governs the travel security procedures for your country of origin and your destination. Pay attention to the particular details of what you can pack and how you can move through security. For example, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website specifies the 3-1-1 liquid rule.
- If you are travelling with a baby, pay particular attention to any liquids restrictions as they may impact your ability to travel with formula or breastmilk.
- Keep the security procedures in mind as you pack so you can easily locate and remove items that need to be screened from your bags, such as liquids or medication.
Carry sanitizer and wipes everywhere.Your and your family’s immune systems may take a beating as you travel. Create a germ barrier by frequently washing your hands and your children’s hands, especially before eating. If anyone touches a questionable surface, go ahead and use hand sanitizer. Wipe down germy surfaces, like the arm rests on the plane.
Bring toys and distractions for the flight.Pack a portable DVD player and headphones in your carry on bag. Take small packs of Legos or small puzzles. Bring small hand-held games. Coloring books, stickers, and other contained crafts are also good options.
- Make sure to bring some healthy snacks in your carry-on as well, if they’re allowed into the terminal at the airport and on the plane. This will keep your children from getting hungry and cranky. It will also provide a touch of the familiar in a potentially stressful situation.
- To keep your kids from getting too jittery, make sure to burn off some energy during layovers by running around and playing with them.
Making the Most of Your Trip
Create a general daily plan.Come up with a rough outline showing how you would like each day to play out. List out the activities that you plan to do and how you will move from location to location.
- Try to create a balance between packing too much into your days and keeping your time too free. Kids don’t do well with boredom, but they also need time to relax and unwind.
- Ask your children to come up with ideas of things they’d like to do on the trip.
Adapt to any unexpected schedule changes.It is inevitable that some part of your plans will go awry. When this happens, give yourself a few minutes to regroup and to think of other options. Keep a calm face, otherwise you might worry your kids. You might even take the opportunity to be spontaneous and ask your children what they would like to do instead.
- For example, you might say, "Our tour just got cancelled, but there are other options. Would you all like to visit this nearby park or wait for the next tour time?"
Know the locations of nearby restrooms.Keep an eye out for restrooms as you take tours or explore the area. This knowledge will come in handy if one of your children needs to take a quick restroom break. If you don't know where one is, don't be shy about asking locals for help.
Ask others for suggestions.Talk to your hotel concierge, or the front desk, about things to do in the area. If you encounter friendly people at a restaurant or activity, do the same. You can also go online to sites, like TripAdvisor, and learn from what other people have experienced.
- For example, you might say, “We have time for a quick breakfast before our tour, is there a kid-friendly restaurant in walking distance?"
Get them a few travel gadgets.Make a deal with your children that they will stow away all technology once you reach your destination. In exchange, agree to buy them a few cool travel items, such as kid-friendly binoculars or a butterfly catcher.
Let them try out a bit of the local language.Weeks before you start your trip, purchase a language CD or DVD and begin working with your children to learn a few phrases in the local language. Start with things like “hello” and “my name is” and go from there. Of course, don’t push them too hard to learn or they may resent the trip as a result.
Get a kid-friendly guide.If you take a tour, make sure to find a guide that is open to customizing a trip to suit the needs of children. This may mean more frequent restroom breaks and/or less taxing walking terrain. Look up online reviews of any guide that you are considering to see what other parents have said.
- For small children, it may help to lessen their anxiety if you allow them to travel with one sentimental item from home, such as a stuffed animal.
- Try to spend your money on experiences instead of souvenirs.
Video: My Easy Tips to Travel with Kids
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