You’ve finally decided on that long-awaited international travel destination with your kids! Now you and your family are raring to go – but there are a few things to remember before leaving!
Just as for adults, children will also need a valid passport and any necessary visas for international travel. But unlike adults, you should always bring along a copy of your child’s birth certificate. This is especially important if you have different last names. Also, if you’re traveling solo, you’ll need a notarized note from the other parent. It must state that the child is allowed to travel internationally with you.
Even if both parents are traveling together, you should carry a copy of the child's birth certificate and a note of consent for each child and parent. Why? In an emergency one parent might need to leave, with or without the child. The US doesn’t have a standardized form, but the Canadian government’s form can be useful as a template for international travel. In addition, you can register with the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program. In case your child has been abducted, it will notify you if someone else tries to register for a passport for the child.
Most doctors agree that international travel with infants up to the age of 6 weeks is not a good idea. That’s because their immune systems are still developing. This puts them at higher risk to catch infectious diseases. After that point, you’ll still want to make sure to take your child for a pre-travel visit to their doctor. That way, you’ll make sure they’re up-to-date with vaccines before their international travel. Also, the physician can check to rule out any previously missed conditions that might require extra care.
For some safety tips when traveling with children, take a look at the Center for Disease Control website. It lists the most common health problems of child travelers and discusses how they can be prevented. Extreme care should be taken with water, as in some places even bottled water can be contaminated. The same is true for formula, where safety standards can vary in different countries. It is best to check them carefully before starting international travel.
Many people don’t realize that passports have to be valid for some months after the date of the return flight home. In some countries, that can be three months, in others up to a year. You don’t want to be denied entry during international travel because your passport isn’t valid long enough! You’ll also want to scan any important documents like birth certificates or passports. That will save you a lot of hassle if they are lost or stolen during your dream holiday! In addition, it’s a good idea to put into your carry-on luggage anything that will get you through at least two days. Sometimes our suitcases end up going on their own adventures without us!
Children under the age of two can sit on your lap during airline travel. That avoids extra costs but is not the safest place for them. You might consider paying the extra price for their own seat. Most car seats are certified for air travel. So you can take it along for your infant to sit in, or just use the
extra space to spread out.
A good option can be bulkhead seats. They often provide a possibility to install a baby cradle, but also have some drawbacks. You might have to pay extra for these seats, and you won't have the seat pocket in front of you to store any extras.
During a flight, the cabin pressure will decrease. This drop can cause ear pain, especially during takeoff and descent. To combat this problem, let your baby breastfeed or suck on a bottle or pacifier at these times. In addition, the noise may disturb your child. It can be helpful to take along cotton balls, earplugs, or noise-canceling headphones. If you apply them playfully, your child should be willing to use them.
Along with destination-appropriate clothing, a light stroller can be a back saver if you have a small child. And don’t forget those zip-lock bags for international travel, good for leftovers, garbage and – in emergencies – for airsick children.
Remember to take a good first aid kit as well as a small Swiss army type of knife. It can really come in handy for peeling fruit, fixing toys, or cutting off dangling threads. Just don’t forget to store it in your luggage and not your carry on.
You’ll also want to take along converters and plugs as necessary. And to keep the kids entertained with electronic devices, a SIM card or Wi-Fi modem can be a lifesaver. You can buy or rent them before leaving or at the airport of your international travel destination.
There’s a lot to think about before leaving on a far-away trip! But if you consider a few basics beforehand, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your time away from home all the more. Just make sure to share your favorite photos on FamilyApp!