It’s summer and an overseas vacation beckons. While you may have done some backpacking through Europe right after high school or college, travelling with kids can be a whole different experience. I’m not saying it isn’t fun; it can be a truly life-changing experience when you take the kids to see a whole new culture. But there are some things, like snacks, that can be a life raft for parents when doing that big trip with the kids. So to help you get prepared, here are six major travel tips you should keep in mind.
Yes the kids need passports and they may need more than that. Know that when showing up with kids in tow for passports that both parents need to be present, so plan ahead. Always take multiple pictures of everyone’s passport – the page with your picture and your passport number on it. Put one copy aside for storing in your suitcase, one for giving to a family member or friend who is not travelling with you and one for at home just in case. You can’t be too safe. Oh- and don’t forget to bring snacks when you take the kids to the passport office or you just may have a crises on your hands.
Medical Travel Tips for Families
If leaving the country, check with the Center for Disease Control about vaccines needed or medicines you might want to take along. If the kids use epi-pens or inhalers, take extras along with you. Also bring plenty of over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol or Benadryl in chewable form if you can. Many of these will need a prescription in other countries and language can be a barrier. If you can, make a list of English-speaking doctors or clinics in the areas you are visiting. Bring lots of band-aids and of course wherever you go bring snacks. It is almost a medical necessity with kids. And don’t forget the sunscreen.
Be Clothing Smart
Of course you want to pack for the climate but there is more than just that to think about. My rule is to always pack a swimsuit. The one time you don’t will be time you get invited to a pool or find the perfect secluded swimming hole in the South of France. Keep in mind clothing restrictions in some countries, such as when visiting the Vatican or traveling in Islamic countries. Stuff some extra clothes for the kids in your carryon when travelling, they always spill something.
Taking Care of the Small Stuff
Do you have access to local train schedules and bus schedules? Are you aware of local holidays that might impact your plans? They could affect hotels and restaurant availability but could also give you unexpected opportunities to experience something unforgettable. Make sure your hotel is kid-friendly and plan time out for tired kids who will get cranky. Plan stuff they will enjoy as much as things for you. You may want to check with sites like Trip Advisor or add the app to your phone for staying on top of changes in volatile situations.
While it is all very fine to bring iPads and such for travel time, try and limit how much the kids are spending on their electronic entertainment. It is an indispensable help when it is there for them in the hotel, on the plane etc. But nothing replaces the experience of life in a foreign land. Make sure you bring chargers that are all charged up and ready for that game when it goes dead mid-flight. Also make sure you have adaptors for the country you will be visiting so there are no disappointed little ones. Kids love to take pictures so grab disposable cameras for the younger kids and simple cameras for the teens. Get them involved, set up a family blog to post to each day, and most of all enjoy where you are. Bring snacks; everyone will get hungry with all the walking.
Enjoy the Trip and Bring Home Only Memories
The bottom line is that this time around you are travelling with some little folks that you love and sharing this with them. Enjoy their discoveries, share yours and most of all take the time to appreciate the joy of new experiences that travel can bring. If you prepare before you go, you will have the luxury of simply being a traveler on the road with a couple of great companions. And don’t forget the snacks along the way!