When traveling with kids, it’s all about safety and comfort. Especially when traveling out of the country. Here are a few tips and must-dos to add to your checklist before embarking on any oversea adventures.
Always check with your child’s doctor before any international travel. Besides answering obvious health concerns, your pediatrician can offer helpful advice on how to make your child more comfortable during long-flights, how to appropriately manage shifting climate and altitude changes, as well as general hydration and pacing techniques.
Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides health and vaccination information for over 200 countries and destinations. Simply selecting the country of interest will give a list of necessary vaccinations relative to each area, precautionary measures against disease, news alerts and recent outbreaks. Though some vaccinations are only recommendations, some areas will require you to have proof of vaccinations before entering the area. Always check with your doctor.
Check with your health insurance. No matter how long your trip lasts, accidents can happen. The last thing you want to be worried about when in a foreign country is paying completely out-of-pocket, emergency expenses for your child. Call your insurance company about available options.
Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork. Bringing a passport is the number one necessity for all international paperwork. But the U.S. Customs and Border Protection advises if a child is traveling with only one parent, grandparents, or anyone who is not the child’s legal guardian, a written, notarized consent form from both parents must also be kept on-hand. More information about necessary documents and forms can be found at http://www.cbp.gov/.
Bring a mini first-aid kit. With children, it is always best to travel on the safe side. Carry a small kit of antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, bandaids, sunscreen and Tylenol. It can help keep a simple ache or pain from becoming a serious problem later.
Opt for non-stop flights or flights with fewer transfers. Though most airlines allow guests who require special assistance, including those with small children, to board early, excessive stops can put a strain on traveling parents. Avoiding confusing transfers and hefting large amounts of luggage from one end of the airport to the next can help make traveling as a family more enjoyable.
Keep it simple. For most parents, when traveling with children the phrase “packing lightly” has long-since become obsolete. Still, it is one thing to be prepared. It’s another to go overboard. Bring what is only absolutely necessary, and try to make the most out of your selections. For example, pack clothes that can be layered, rather than clothes that must be worn separately for changing temperatures.
Have kid-friendly activities planned. Children have short attention-spans and require more stimulation than historical information and daunting views. Even inserting a simple trip to the zoo or a day at the beach into your itinerary can help break up tedious tours of ruins and museums. When selecting these activities, take into account the child’s age and interests.