When you are traveling internationally, with or without kids, it presents many challenges and considerations. There are things you need to do ahead of time, such as getting passports and visas, to the things you have to think about once you are in the air and then, at your destination.
The following are some key tips for traveling internationally with kids and general things to know and keep in mind.
What Documents Will You Need?
Start thinking about the required documents you might need well in advance of any other planning that you do for international travel.
It can take you weeks or months toget all of your documents sorted and this is especially true with kids. For example, if you are in the U.S. going elsewhere, you may just need a passport and a visa. If you are a national of another country or even sometimes the U.S., you may need to get a Canada eTA online, or a visa for wherever you plan to travel.
If you are traveling internationally on a cruise with children, you may need a passport card, depending on where you are going, or you may need a traditional passport. Also, a family passport holder is always helpful to keep things organized!
The length of where you are going to stay will also affect the documents you need, so double and triple check.
It can be a matter of convenience, pricing, andopinions, but often,the best flight options for people who are traveling internationally with kids are red-eyes whenever possible.
If you can plan your flights in a way so that your children would naturally be sleeping anyway, you are going to be less concerned with having to keep them fed, moving, and entertained during a long flight.
If that is not an option or it does not work, do not be afraid to walk your child up and down the aisles throughout the flight to keep them moving and entertained.
A lot of parents will also pack an entertainment bag that will give them entertainment while you are in the air. It can be packed with things you kids maybe have not seen or played with before, and they can only use for the first time while you are on your flight.
When you are traveling to and from different places on the ground in your destination, this might be a place you want to spend money.
While many international destinations have excellent public transport, that is not always the best option when you have kids. Taxis may be more expensive, but they give you more space and more control over getting from place-to-place.
Dealing with kids, strollers, and other items when traveling with kids on a bus or public transportation can be a big challenge.
Do not Panic and Overpack
When you are packing for any trip with kids, whether it is international or not, there is a temptation to want to pack everything you own and your child or children own.
You have to remember that traveling internationally is different than in the U.S. There may be instances where you are also traveling by train or in much smaller cars to get from place-to-place in your destination.
There may also be situations where you are in much smaller hotels or apartments than you are used to in the U.S.
Plus, trying to make your way anywhere with a load of luggage and your kids is going to be much more challenging.
As you are packing, contact the apartment or hotel where you will be staying and ask them what facilities and amenities they have for children. For example, they may have things like pack-and-plays at a minimum and perhaps other supplies and items geared toward traveling families as well.
Think Carefully About Your Destination
While traveling the world with your children can be amazing for all of you, weigh your children’s ages at the time of travel with your destination. For example, big international cities may be better for younger kids because you are going to find modern amenities, a lot of history in many cases, and ample outdoor spaces.
Somewhere more obscure or remote could lack some of the conveniences that make traveling with kids easier, and could also leave them feeling bored. It is probably also better to save the very adventurous trips for when your kids are teens or perhaps even older.
Prepare for the Possibility That Your Luggage Gets Lost
Finally, traveling internationallycan come with a host of unknowns. There are situations that sometimes occur that can completely sideline your trip if you are not prepared for them.
Keep this in mind and do what you can tominimize the blow of such situations. For example, pack carry-on luggage that anticipates the potential of lost luggage not arriving at your destination for at least two days. Pack everything you must have for those two days into your carry-on.