You love traveling to new countries, and you want to share that love of international exploration with your kids – but first, you have to get there. While traveling internationally with children requires more preparation, bringing your whole family on the trip of a lifetime is worth it.
To help make sure your journey goes as seamlessly as possible, follow these nine tips for international travel with children.
Make Time Fly
Load Up on Distractions: Help your children pass the time on the plane by bringing along plenty of things to do. Tablets and laptops with games can do the trick, as can books, music, games and other portable options your kids enjoy.
Load Up on Snacks: Peanuts, crackers, granola bars and other munchies can help quash hunger and crankiness during all phases of travel.
Consider an Evening Flight: Since a nighttime flight aligns with your children’s sleep schedule, you may get lucky with a batch of snoozing kids on the plane. You might get even luckier and join them!
Bring the Right Stuff
Pack Your Passports: Make sure everyone has a passport that’s valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in a foreign country. And yes, this applies to kids of all ages, even infants. Children up to the age of 15 require a child passport, while those 16 and older get an adult passport.
Bring Other Required Documents: Visas are required to enter many countries; do your research and apply in advance. You’ll also need additional documentation if only one parent is traveling with a child under the age of 18. Bring a copy of your child’s birth certificate as well as a notarized letter from the child’s other parent granting the child permission to travel overseas with you.
Count and Memorize: Tally up your family’s total number of suitcases, carry-ons, handbags, and backpacks. Then memorize the total so you can do a spot check every time you’re on the move.
Divvy up Duties: Make sure each task has only one parent in charge of it to avoid duplication or confusion. For example, when one person packs, that person knows where everything is. When one person makes reservations, that person brings along the proper documentation.
Cover the Health Bases: Some destinations require specific immunizations for travelers. Make sure all family members get their necessary shots before departure. If your child has any recurring health issues, a general checkup is also a good idea before international travel. You may also want to invest in temporary health insurance for travel if your regular policy doesn’t provide overseas coverage.
Bulk up Your Carry-ons: Ensure your carry-ons hold enough clothing and supplies to get your family through two days without luggage. This tactic covers the worst case scenarios of luggage being delayed or lost, giving you time to obtain new items if needed.
Yes, international travel with children involves more planning, documentation, snacks, and distractions than you’d need traveling only with adults. But giving your child an international experience is worth the extra prep! Feel free to contact Swift with any questions as you plan your family’s trip abroad – we’re always glad to help!
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.