A great family vacation requires careful planning and attention to detail. Many parents are unsure of where to begin, especially if they’re traveling with their children for the first time. And some parents make the novice mistake of packing and going without properly preparing their children for what’s to come. Traveling abroad with children can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are ten tips to help you have the journey of a lifetime with your kids:
1) Do Your Research
Always research the location you’re traveling to. This provides insight into child-friendly activities, as well as potential issues that could arise. It’s not uncommon for parents to fall in love with the idea of a place, and upon arriving, realize it’s not very kid-friendly. Make a list of potential activities for your children in the host city, and reach out to the hotel to see if they have any on-site activities for children.
It’s also worth reading up on travel blogs for parents who travel frequently with their children such as The Bucket List Family. This will not only arm you with the most practical advice tailored to a specific destination, but give you a boost of inspiration as well. Learning more about the adventures of families in similar situations will put things into perspective before a major trip with your young ones.
2) Create An Itinerary
With children, traveling on a spontaneous schedule isn’t easy. You’ll need to have a solid itinerary to keep your plans moving on a progressive path. Keep track of dates and times, and always allow wiggle room for delays and rests between activities. Cramming many things into one day may seem simple on paper, but is usually overwhelming and leads to irritability on a trip.
3) Use Online Tools
What better way to plan your trip than to utilize the many tools available online at your disposal? For example, there are awesome online itinerary planners that make it easy for you create quick schedules for the family. Here’s a roundup of great tools to help make your trip run much more smoothly:
Travefy: A comprehensive, free online tool for creating detailed, printable itineraries
Duolingo: A language learning app that makes it easy for your kids to learn common words and phrases in preparation for visits to foreign language-speaking countries
Wifi Map: This app tells you where thousands of free Wifi locations are around the world
PackPoint: Type in your destination, and PackPoint will help you generate a list of what to pack
In case you missed it, check out the best online tools for travel.
4) Incorporate Home Routines
Traveling abroad can be draining for children, especially when it disrupts their normal routines. If your children regularly take naps or have dedicated time to playing, incorporate that into your travel schedule. This will help prevent any exhaustion or tantrums your children might face. It also helps keep them comfortable when they’re far away from home.
5) Include Your Children In Planning
This tip is flexible depending on the age of your children, but including them in certain areas of the trip planning will get them involved and excited. Show them photos of your destination, and have them choose between various activities. This allows them to be aware and prepared for what’s to come. If they thoroughly enjoy an activity they decided on, give them props for making a great choice!
6) Get Your Immunizations
This is one of the most important steps to traveling abroad. At least three months prior to your trip, ensure that the family is properly vaccinated. Research required vaccinations and speak to your healthcare provider about recommended options. This protects you against serious illnesses abroad.
7) Invest In Insurance
As a solo traveler, you might have walked on the edge by traveling without flight or health insurance, but as a family, it’s too big a risk to take. When traveling abroad with children, always invest in different types of insurance. The best travel insurance packages cover your entire family during the event of an emergency. With the right insurance, you can quickly return home if necessary, receive medical attention if something goes wrong, or even get reimbursed if your camera breaks. Here are more reasons to buy travel insurance.
8) Pack Light On The Toys
It’s important to find a happy medium when it comes to packing toys for your children. Too many toys weighs you down, cost more to move, and create unnecessary distractions if you want your children to be involved in the culture and activities of a new place. At the same time, it’s great to allow them to bring a slice of home with them. If it works for you, get a small backpack, and give them the option to fill the backpack with whatever they like. Not only does this limit their toys, but gives them freedom to choose and learn how to pack what’s most important to them.
9) Be Ready For Long Flights
Children have short attention spans, and long plane rides present an especially unique challenge. If you have a tablet, stock it with fun games and movies to keep them entertained throughout the flight. You might also want to pack things to keep their hands busy, like a coloring book. Lastly, bring a bag of travel-friendly snacks to ward off hunger, especially for picky eaters.
Try to keep your children awake prior to the flight to make it easier for them to sleep. Additionally, consider a sleep aid like children’s Benadryl. When possible, opt for evening or overnight flights.
10) Reach Out To Credit Card & Phone Companies
To prevent the possibility of your phone or credit and debit cards not working, always contact those companies prior. Many credit card companies will block card usage if it detects foreign transactions. For cell phone companies, talk to your provider about changing your plan temporarily to accommodate overseas services. For extra security, always try and bring extra debit or credit cards for your trip.