Travel with a young child, especially overseas, presents some unique challenges and can be a bit daunting, especially to those unseasoned with the experience. Here are some useful tips and tricks for traveling abroad with kids from a well traveled mom:
- When choosing a destination you are unfamiliar with, check with the U.S. State Department for any alerts, or safety issues you may need to consider when planning your travel. Register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program for travel alerts.
- Make copies of your passports and keep them in your purse/suitcase – somewhere other than where your real ones are. You should also scan them in/take a photo and e-mail them to yourself and a family member – just in case yours are lost, stolen, or damaged.
- Take a photo of your child each morning in the outfit they’re wearing. This way, if you get separated you have a photo for reference (or in case law enforcement needs to become involved).
- Make sure your child’s name, your name and contact information is somewhere on your child’s person. Remember if you get separated, your child may panic and not be able to tell a stranger their name, or they may just be simply too young to know this information. Ways of doing this are:
- Put a business card in their pocket.
- Engrave a leather strap or keychain or clip-on lanyard with his name and your phone number. You can clip it to a belt buckle and tuck it into their pocket.
- These temporary tattoos are waterproof and last for several days!
- The ELPH Safety Band is a non-toxic, durable wristband equipped with a one of a kind QR code and ID number. You set up the code to provide your contact info upon scan or by calling the toll free number listed.
Make your life easier
- If your child still requires a car seat, you may want to consider investing in the GoGo Babyz Travelmate. Easily attachable to just about any car seat (not the infant ones), this handy gadget turns it into a stroller of sorts and allows you to get from point A to B with your child quickly. Then you can choose to use the car seat on-board your flight, or simply gate checking it.
- Invest in new spinner wheel luggage, especially if traveling alone. Luggage that you can push (or kick) around without worry of falling over is ideal in situations where you may require more hands than you have.
- Take advantage of early boarding if your child is 2 or younger and as soon as you get on the plane, be sure to ask a flight attendant for a pillow and blanket. (They will run out, so don’t wait!)
- Carry a backpack as your personal item. It counts as a purse so you’ll still be able to bring a carry on as well, but you’ll get much more use out of it. Things to pack in addition to toys and snacks, just in case:
- headache medicine
- antacid (the tablets)
- wet wipes
- antibacterial gel
- $20 in US cash – broken down in smaller bills and 4 quarters
- a pen (for immigrations forms)
- chargers/cords for your devices
Avoid a meltdown
- Pack a combination of things to keep your children busy: iPads, iPods, Nintendo DS, favorite toys, lap games like puzzles or magnetic games, and books. Depending on the child, bringing new toys, books, or games that they’ve never played with before may keep them occupied longer. *TIP* buy a set of kid friendly over-ear headphones for the plane ride. No one else wants to hear your child’s game or movie and your child won’t be able to hear over the engine noise without them.
- Pack snacks for the plane ride and when you’re out exploring. Sometimes when you’re out of the country, it’s difficult to find snacks for picky eaters, so it’s always a good idea to bring your own. To help little ones equalize their ears during take off and landing, bring a sippy cup (fill it up after going thru security) as well as fruit puree pouches. The sucking action of either will help pop little ears upon ascent or descent and avoid discomfort.
- Don’t run out of power on long flights. Invest in a portable power brick like this Fat Cat PowerBar 4200 so you can charge your devices even when there isn’t an outlet available to use.
- Instead of buying t-shirts and souvenirs that will be outgrown, spend your money on tours and experiences. Take lots of photos and put a photo book together after your trip. Your children will enjoy flipping through the memories long after that stuffed animal is history.
- Plan time to explore, sight see, and play but also plan downtime. Remember kids are cranky when tired, and less likely to enjoy the experience.
- If you have a family schedule at home, do try and keep that same type of routine. Children do better when kept on a similar schedule, so try and keep meal times, and bedtimes the same, when possible.
- Be flexible and ready to roll with it. You scheduled an hour to visit the zoo, but your child is having a blast and learning, so be ready and willing to change your schedule.
#1 TIP: Don’t be afraid to get out and experience something new.
Get out off your resort property to explore and experience the local culture of the destination you’re visiting. Check out the local Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website to see what’s going on. Many times you’ll find some great ideas and offers to take advantage of that you would not have known otherwise.