What You Need To Prepare For International Travel With Kids
Are you ready for your family getaway? If you’re prepping for international travel with kids, here’s what you need to know and what to take with you.
More than 50 million Americans travel abroad every year. Are you planning to join those ranks and bring your brood along with you?
If so, you’ve likely got your hands full.
Between packing the toys, planning the meals, and fine-tuning the itinerary, it can be easy to overlook some of the most important steps in your journey.
Today, we’re sharing a few tips on how to ace international travel with kids. Inspiring a sense of culture and wanderlust in your little ones is admirable and should be as simple as possible.
Ready to learn more? Let’s take off!
1. Get All Required Immunizations
Depending on where you’re headed to, there’s a chance your family may need to get a round of shots before taking off.
Why? There are some areas of the world where certain diseases are more prominent than others. When you travel to these spots, you could be at a higher risk for contracting the illnesses. You could also spread them from one country to the next as you jet-set around.
Some travel vaccines are merely recommended while others are required. If you’re going to certain parts of Africa or South America, for example, you’ll need to get your yellow fever vaccine.
Not sure if you and your kids need them? Here’s a handy guide provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
2. Pack In-Flight Activities
There’s nothing like being 35,000 feet off the ground with two screaming, bored toddlers who refuse to nap.
To help prevent this from happening, pack a bag filled with activities that your kids can do on the plane. This kit will vary based on their ages.
For instance, you can pack coloring books, crayons, matching games and board books for your younger crew. Older children might like chapter books and a tablet full of apps to explore.
Remember, you’re dealing with short attention spans so the gear should be as engaging as possible. One tip? Toss in a few brand-new items to pique their interest. Your fellow passengers will thank you!
3. Organize Passports
Everyone in your travel squad should have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the completion of your trip.
If you suddenly realize yours are out-of-date, don’t panic. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has steps in place to help you expedite the process.
If you’re four to six weeks out from your trip, you can expedite one without any questions asked. Any closer to your takeoff date than that, and you’ll be required to show proof of urgent travel plans.
This applies to both the parent passport and the child passport. Keep in mind that if your child was 16 when their passport was issued, it’s valid for 10 years. If they were younger, it’s only valid for five.
4. Teach a Few Local Phrases
If you’re traveling with children who are already speaking, it’s fun to teach them a few key phrases they can use in the country they’ll be visiting. They won’t need to carry on a full conversation but being able to communicate briefly can be helpful.
Download a few language guides off the internet to get started and let the whole family join in on the process. Focus on manners above all, teaching everyone to say “please,” “thank you,” “hello” and “good-bye.”
5. Establish a Sense of Home
It’s no secret that you’ll likely be entering into an entirely different time zone where your normal routine will be off-kilter.
Even adults can have a difficult time adjusting to this change of pace, but kids are especially aware of the difference. This can make an already-overwhelming experience even more so.
To help counter this, seek to maintain most of their familiar home patterns. Bring along the snacks they love, pack their favorite breakfast, give them plenty of snuggles and keep the order of your day as close to what they’re used to as possible.
You may also find it helpful to bring along a stuffed animal or two to help them sleep in an unfamiliar spot.
6. Let Them Help Plan
Sure, a day full of stuffy museums in Paris might sound like a dream to you, but what about your four-year-old?
While you don’t have to base the entire trip on their likes and preferences, it’s helpful to let them in on the planning process. Allow them to choose a few activities that sound like fun to them and let them choose between a few options when you get the chance.
They’ll appreciate the responsibility and will look forward to “their” spots. This may even buy you a few more hours at that special historical exhibit you wanted to check out!
7. Focus on Food and Sleep
The keys to your child’s happiness are relatively simple: Keep them well-fed and well-rested. Anything less, and you’re looking at cranky, irritable tots who can’t be pleased.
That said, take a second look at your itinerary before you go. Do you have lots of late nights planned? You don’t have to scratch all of them but schedule them strategically. If your family will be up late one night, can you plan to sleep in the next morning?
Along those same lines, have you set aside enough time for meals and snacks? Yes, an entire day at a special locale will be fun, but not if everyone is hungry. Make food and sleep your priorities, and everyone will be happier for it.
8. Don’t Be Too Ambitious
Give yourself plenty of downtime. If your kids normally take a nap at a certain time of day, make sure they get one in overseas, too. If possible, sneak in a little relaxation for yourself while you’re at it!
It’s normal to want to pack your trip abroad chocked full of minute-by-minute activities.
After all, this is a major investment that you might not do again any time soon. Yet, when you run your kids at a fast pace with no opportunity to slow down, it’s only a matter of time before something goes awry.
International Travel with Kids is Worth It
Though the days leading up to your flight can be chaotic and you may never be 100% packed, there’s nothing quite like international travel with kids.
Exploring foreign territories, indulging in new cuisine and immersing yourself in local culture is an experience that is best shared. Why not share it with those you love the most, especially those pint-sized cuties?
If you’re looking for family-friendly getaways in and around the Philippines, we’d love to help you out. We cover all of the best excursions, sites, and off-the-beaten-path adventures to check out.
Want to teach your kids a sense of social responsibility while you travel the world? Check out our guide to volunteering on charitable projects overseas!