How to Travel With Kids

How to Travel With Kids
When planning a trip with children for the first time, it is a good idea to begin your planning process a few months in advance so that as the trip grows near, you don't feel pressured or anxious about missing an important detail. Your trip may be a newborn's first trip to grandma's house, or it may be the kids' first trip overseas to a foreign destination. You may want to take your kids camping to a well-structured, high-amenity campground, or you may want to hike into the wilderness alone. The key to a successful, safe and enjoyable trip is to plan well, and if your kids are older, to enroll them in the process of making trip decisions.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Document checklist Guidebooks Size-appropriate backpack Stuffed animals (optional) Stroller (optional) Games and books (optional) Sunglasses Sunscreen Zip-tie bags Small plastic bottles
  • Document checklist
  • Guidebooks
  • Size-appropriate backpack
  • Stuffed animals (optional)
  • Stroller (optional)
  • Games and books (optional)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Zip-tie bags
  • Small plastic bottles
Step 1
Take your child, in person, to apply for a passport and visa at least three to six months prior to planning an outdoor trip overseas. Be prepared to provide birth, naturalization or citizenship certificates, the child's social security number, an adoption decree, identification of parents or guardians, photocopies of all documents, necessary fees, etc. By starting this process early it is easier to become fully informed on passport and visa requirements. Create a checklist of documents necessary for travel.
Step 2
Receive any necessary inoculations as required by the country or area to be visited. Request written information about any traveling restrictions pertaining to medications necessary or commonly used for the child. Obtain any necessary permissions to travel with these medications. Consult with the family doctor about travel sickness, anxiety, potential eating problems, etc., to acquire proper medications to help children with these issues. Create a first-aid kit for dehydration, bug repellant, cuts, sunburn, flu symptoms and allergies.
Step 3
Determine destination accommodations such as the amenities provided by family-friendly hotels, family-oriented tours and discounts. Pre-planning hotels and tours can provide excellent savings and are a good information resource for area features that may not be advertised. Many locations offer the opportunity to ship diapers, disposable utensils, wipes, etc., for traveling with infants.
Step 4
Pre-plan trip activities and frequent stops for road trips heading to and from a destination. Purchase destination books appropriate to the child's age so that the child can read about where she is going and what she may do on the trip. Have games, puzzles and small snacks pre-packaged for different stages of the trip. Bring a favored stuffed toy for small children and consider attaching it to a stroller, baby pack or car seat so it doesn't get lost.
Step 5
Purchase small plastic bottles and fill each with shampoo, conditioner, creams or oils. Place these in a small zip-tie bag to travel with children's clothing so that if something is lost, each person has a replacement. Select comfortable, destination-appropriate clothing, extra underwear and extra socks. Never bring brand-new shoes to walk in as they may cause blisters and misery. Always bring sunglasses, sunscreen, wind, rain and cold clothing appropriate to the destination. Some jackets are multi-functional specifically for traveling under changing conditions.
Step 6
Practice packing and moving around with the luggage, backpacks or gear prior to the trip to ensure that everything can be managed by the adults traveling with the children. Check with any airlines, trains or ships to make sure the bags meets their requirements for size and for what may be packed inside the bags. Include a check-off sheet inside each bag to assist with remembering what to pack. Try to leave with extra room inside the luggage for purchases or natural discoveries on the trip. A few small empty plastic bottles can encourage kids to collect and learn about natural seeds, flowers or bugs along the way.

Tips & Warnings

 
Take a few day trips with your kids to practice traveling. Encourage your kids to carry their own small backpack and practice loading and unloading the luggage you intend to use for the big trip. This will quickly inform you of problems you haven't considered, prior to the actual trip. Bags get heavier the longer you wear or drag them. Make solving these problems a fun challenge for both adults and children and prune what you bring down to your necessities.
 
Unexpected things happen on trips--lost luggage, sick children, long delays in airports. Take two copies of your important phone numbers and be prepared to lose your cell phone or to be out of range of service. By keeping extra copies of important documents and information in two locations during the trip, such unexpected problems will not derail the whole trip.

Article Written By F.R.R. Mallory

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.

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