Traveling with children can be a nightmare even for just a 15-minute trip to the grocery store, so it’s easy to see why most parents cringe when planning for an international travel experience with the kids in tow. The prospect of packing everyone up and ensuring everything is prepared for the trip is only half the battle—the other half is trying to get the kids to cooperate long enough for airport lines, extensive plane rides, train trips, boat excursions and more. Although it may be a difficult endeavor, bringing the kids along for the ride allows the whole family to grow closer through this eye-opening vacation experience. To limit the chaos and maximize the fun, consider the following four tips.
1. Purchase International Travel Medical Insurance
Emergency medical situations can strike at any moment, and ensuring the health care of a child is the most important thing travelers can do to prepare for the trip. Although there are several preventative measures parents can take to secure a healthy experience for everyone, it’s important to be as cautious as possible by purchasing health insurance specifically for use by foreign visitor. Atlas travel insurance in one example of such specialized policies. Having this insurance on hand will not only ensure that the children will be taken care of when a medical ailment arises, but also that parents won’t be left with a hefty bill for the child’s treatment.
2. Check Passport Expiration Dates
Parents may think they’re off the hook if the family’s passport expiration dates fall just a few days after everyone is scheduled to arrive home, but actually this could pose a problem while traveling. According to seasoned family traveler and blogger David Hogg, authorities will often require travelers to carry passports that are still valid several weeks (and sometimes even several months) past the date of the traveler’s scheduled departure. In fact, many airlines won’t even let travelers board the plane without plenty of extra time available on their passports.
3. Pack Enough Provisions in Carry-On Luggage
Essential items like diapers, snacks, extra clothing, and entertainment should always be within reach during a long trip—especially considering the fact that bags can easily be lost or delayed with international flights. Parents want to stay fully prepared for at least one day in a foreign area using just the items packed in carry-on luggage. Although this may seem excessive, international flights can often turn into full days of travel, which would limit access to checked baggage.
4. Practice the Airport Security Process with Kids
Children can become easily overwhelmed by the fast-paced and invasive nature of airport security, which is why it’s best for parents to prepare them for this experience by practicing at home before the trip. Older children who are mostly autonomous should know when to take off their shoes and jackets when entering security and should understand how to walk through the metal detector and why this is important for airport security. However, younger children can usually just complete this process with a parent and won’t typically need practicing or explaining.
Although traveling can be a hectic experience with little ones running around, parents can choose a smarter approach by following the tips above in preparation for the trip. The important thing to remember is that going through the process is a small price to pay for an enriching experience with loved ones. They may not understand it quite yet, but kids will appreciate the hassle of traveling once they’re able to experience a brand new land and culture once they arrive at their destination.