10 International Travel Tips for Families that You Might Actually Read
There are lots of tips out there to help you travel with your kids. These tips here—they’re a little better than the rest. You might even enjoy reading these international travel tips! And maybe, just maybe, you will try some of them out—especially number one, which is the reason I created this list in the first place. And don’t forget to share this post, sharing is caring.
1. Get travel medical insurance.
Travel medical insurance can protect your most precious cargo on an international trip. If someone gets hurt or injured, you have protection for doctor bills, protection against trip interruption, and even benefits to get you home if you miss your flight because you were ill. The best travel plans can be found here
What do Dengue fever, Chikungunya, and Zika all have in common? None of them have immunizations. That’s three shots you don’t even have to get! But, for all the other diseases out there, get immunizations. Some countries require immunizations to get a visa, others just advise them. Who knows what unknown disease you could have avoided if you had just called your doctor? You can also visit a travel clinic. Don’t wait until the last minute! 3 months in advance will ensure that you have time for all vaccinations. Get both required and recommended vaccinations. You will have peace of mind that your children are protected should an outbreak occur.
Children’s passports expire every 5 years in the US. At this point, you’ve already booked your hotel and bought tickets, so now would be a good time to check passports. Of course, when you go to renew, you can’t do it online. So quickly book an appointment at the post office, pull the kids out of school, drag them down there, make sure BOTH parents are there (or get a notarized letter of permission), and then pay the extra fee to expedite them. Of course, I am NOT speaking from personal experience…a seasoned family traveler like myself would NEVER EVER have something like this happen. Also, ensure that your passports are all valid for 6 months beyond your travel dates.
Our favorite international destination is Mexico and we often drive. But Europe and Asia have been on the list too. So you might need to prepare for long flights. Our favorite tip is to bring lots of new toys, books, sticker books, pencils, and crayons. We also load the iPad and laptop with new games and apps, as well as books. You can carry a lot of favorite books on an iPad. Bring snacks too. They don’t need to be healthy snacks either, make sure they have enough sugar in them to get your kid bouncing off the ceiling and entertaining the passengers around you. What could possibly go wrong? And hey, if they kick your kid off the flight, make sure you film it!
5. Learn the Language
Going to a foreign country can be a bit scary. One way to relieve some apprehension is to teach kids to say a few words. Teach them how to say “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you” in the local language before arriving. If they’re old enough, maybe teach them how to ask for the restroom, or maybe even order you a beer or a glass of wine. They’ll love trying the new words, and it will open doors everywhere. As soon as they make a few local friends, they’ll be swearing like a sailor—but you won’t even know, since it will be in their new favorite language.
I don’t think our kids have ever really been homesick when traveling with us, but they did miss home. Always, always, always bring their favorite stuffed animal. Some families even bring a backup stuffed animal in case the original gets lost. A fun game to play with kids that will create some good memories is to photograph their stuffed animal in lots of crazy places to show their friends back home.
Chances are, you’re going to be in a different time zone, and in a different culture, and in a strange place where the pace of life is different. Americans are pretty into our puritanical “Early to bed, early to rise…” Italians, Mexicans, Brazilians, Spaniards…actually pretty much everyone else…not so much. That means there will be late nights, cranky kids and meltdowns. Get used to it, it’s all part of the fun! We found that some down time and a nap worked wonders. After we plopped the kids in front of the TV, we would take a nap. Then we’d wake up feeling well rested, and after a few drinks on the plaza, the meltdowns didn’t bother us so much. We found that having a down day after an up day was very important for everyone’s happiness. We also made a point to try and feed the kids before they were hungry. Admit it, eating on vacation is part of the fun! Ice cream in the afternoon might “ruin dinner” back home, but on vacation it prevents a blood sugar crash and provides an opportunity to try a new, but familiar food. Bringing favorite snacks from home can also be a lifesaver if the food choices are just too strange. In our experience though, there is always one food that the kids will eat.
Give kids choices. You can do what I say, or you can sit here in the room all day. No, not that kind of choice! Never give a choice that is going to punish you! But if you involve the kids in the decision making, and provide choices you can live with, your trip will go smoother and your kids will be happier. Castle or Cathedral? The castle has a dungeon you can lock them up in, the cathedral has catacombs they might “get lost” in. Mayan Ruins or Cave Tubing? Ruins have hundreds of steps to wear them out in. Cave tubing has water, always a hit. Brewery tour or Winery tour? Brewery has beer so they sleep on the way home. Winery has wine so they sleep on the way home. See, that last one is a Win-Win for sure!
Once when I was 10, we were traveling the outback of Australia. We met a miner at a diner. No, he had no daughter named Clementine. But he did offer to take us down his mine. To this day I remember this trip vividly, and I have a jar of opal pieces to boot. Be open to new experiences and chucking your agenda out the window if something pops up that might turn into a rewarding experience. Traveling with kids can open new possibilities you could never imagine. If opportunity knocks, go with it! It could lead to an unforgettable
Here is our rule of packing. Pack, unpack, remove items, repack, unpack, remove items, repack. Sometimes we remove so many things we just take an empty suitcase. Once we didn’t even buy tickets for the kids, we just put the kids in the suitcases. Boy, they did not like that flight! Seriously though, take less than you think you need, much less. You know you’re going to have to buy t-shirts and sweatshirts from your destination anyway, just to make their friends back home jealous of the amazing trip they just got to go on.