International Travel with Kids
Heading off on a family trip abroad is seriously exciting, but there are so many little things you need to know about travel with kids. So I’ve put together my ultimate list of international travel tips with kids, to make it easier for you.
We look at everything from planning and packing for travel with kids, to international flights with kids, safety and security, plus tips on what to do when you arrive at your destination, and getting to know the locals. With over 50 tips for traveling with kids internationally, you’ll be sure to learn something new.
There is so much planning that goes into every family trip, so here are a few tips to help you on your way.
1 – Make sure your passports are valid for more than 6 months after you arrive home from your travels, and that they have enough pages blank. If you don’t, the only thing you’ll see is the airport.
2 – Always take out travel insurance no matter what. If you can’t afford travel insurance you shouldn’t go because you sure won’t be able to afford the fees if something goes wrong or if you have to go home urgently.
3 – Think outside the box when it comes to accommodation. Hotels aren’t always the best option for families. There are also apartments, resorts, villas, hostels, farm stays, etc. We always start by looking at Booking.com and Airbnb.
4 – Be flexible. Book the big things but be open to change your itinerary while you’re travelling.
5 – Check out if you need any immunizations as early as possible as some need to be done months ahead.
6 – Travel to the places and in the way you want to travel, not what others think you should do. It’s your vacation after all.
7 – Always have some contingency money available.
You may be asking, “what do I need for international travel?” Well, that very much depends on where and when you’re going but here are some great family vacation packing tips to get you started.
8 – Travel light. If you’re not sure you’ll need it, then leave it at home.
9 – Use packing cells – one colour for each family member
10 – If you can’t easily carry your luggage up a flight of stairs by yourself, start taking things out now.
11 – Pack a first-aid kit for yourself and the kids
12 – Put an easy to identify bag tag or ribbon on your suitcase so when it comes off the plane you’ll be able to find it easily.
13 – Always leave space in your bags when you leave home as you will want to buy mementos from your travels.
14 – Pack wipes and hand sanitizer no matter what age your children are.
15 – Make a packing list for each of you. That way you won’t forget anything.
Tips for international flights
Flying with kids is one of the biggest fears many parents have when it comes to international travel with kids, mainly due to the length of flights. But here are a few tips to get you started. If you’re after more information, take a look at my ultimate guide to long flights with kids.
16 – Prepare your kids to fly by reading them some fantastic books about flying for kids
17 – Check-in online if you can. It will save you time and stress at the airport.
18 – Always arrive early at the airport. It usually takes much longer than expected to get through security and customs.
19 – Take something to entertain each of you. A book, iPad, toys, music, anything! Entertainment consoles on planes break.
20 – Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Take an empty water bottle and you can refill it after customs and on-board many flights.
21 – Pre-order kids meals before you fly. You can’t do it on-board. Also take lots of snacks, especially if you have a fussy eater.
22 – Always pack one full set of clothes for each person (even the adults) in their carry-on. Spilled food and drink tends to land on more than one person in a plane! Also, it will give you a back up if your bags are lost.
23 – Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right then maybe it’s not.
Safety and security tips
24 – Register your itinerary on with the appropriate government agency in your country
25 – If there’s a chance of losing one of your kids, pop a card in their pocket with your name, phone number (if you have it connected while you’re away) and the address of where you’re staying.
26 – Don’t leave your passports with anyone. EVER.
27 – Tell your bank you’re heading overseas so they don’t cancel your cards when they see the international transactions appear.
28 – Leave a photocopy of your itinerary and passports with a family member or friend.
29 – Carry a note from your Doctor with any prescription medicine listed. The laws differ in other countries for certain medicines.
30 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if you don’t speak the language. Charades can make some situations very funny and memorable.
At Your Destination tips
31 – Respect the customs and laws of the country you are visiting, even if you don’t agree with them. It works both ways.
32 – Something will go wrong. Just like life, expect that your family vacation won’t always go to plan. Don’t let it get to you.
33 – Keep your expectations realistic. You pay for what you get.
34 – Don’t be afraid to say YES to new things.
35 – Talk to other travelers. You might just find out some cool new place to visit.
36 – Cheap doesn’t always mean cheerful. Some days it’s not worth the hassle of taking public transport with kids.
37 – Always have some snacks on hand. You never know when your plane will be delayed, car or bus will break down, or shops will be closed. Hungry kids traveling is never a good thing.
38 – Get out of your comfort zone.
39 – Slow down. You’ll appreciate it more if you stay in fewer places for longer. It’s not about how many countries you visited.
40 – It’s good to have some time on your own or in smaller family units so you can explore the things that are important to you and not necessarily the others in your family.
41 – Be open to learning new things. The world is the best classroom your kids will ever discover.
42 – Find out if there are any restrictions on taking photos such as the ban in place in many countries of taking photos of government buildings.
43 – Give your kids a heads up on some of the things they might encounter where they’re going. The good and the bad. It’s a great way to get them thinking about what will be different and reassuring them.
44 – You will never be able to see everything so choose what is important to you and go from there.
45 – Not every day will be blue skies and sunshine. Weather will affect what you do and it’s best to roll with the punches.
Tips to get to know the locals
One of the biggest reasons families travel to other countries is so they can experience the culture. So here are some tips to help you experience more of local life.
46 – Get to know the locals. Kids are the perfect ice breaker
47 – Learn some basic phrases from the local language. People are so much more helpful when you try to speak their language even when you totally mess it up. Get the kids in on the act too.
48 – If the locals at the restaurant, hotel or shop don’t speak your language, that’s your problem, not theirs. Find a way to work through it through basic phrases and sign language.
49 – Always be polite. It will get you a long way.
50 – Eat like a local. Keep an eye out for where the locals eat. They are usually the best places to eat.
51 – Take the kids to the local park. You’ll be amazed who you will meet and what you’ll learn.
52 – Learn about the local culture and religion. Creating understanding is an important part of travelling with kids.
53 – Be aware, as scam artists love to target tourists. However, remember that the vast majority of people you will encounter will be good.
54 – International travel with kids is invaluable. You’ll be amazed by how much they learn about themselves, life, family and the places they visit, even at a seriously young age.