Arranging a vacation is stressful, especially if you have children in tow. It may sound cliché, but it’s important to expect the unexpected and prepare for every eventuality. Ensuring they are covered will not only provide a safer environment, but will relax your mind and allow you to get the more out of your vacation.
Choosing Your Destination
When choosing your location it’s important to ensure it’s “family friendly.” Some destinations may not be suitable. For example, if you’re an adventurer, trekking through the jungle with a toddler may not be such a good idea.
Also think about the language barrier. It’s better to choose a destination where English is widely spoken, just in case you have any problems. In addition, choose a hotel that provides cribs or Pack ‘N Plays.
Packing for the Trip
Your vacation starts the moment you make the booking. During the build-up phase it’s always a good idea to jot down an item or task whenever it comes for mind. This will make sure you don’t forget something important for the trip.
When you’re packing, do not let your children pack their own luggage. They’ll probably pack toys and clothing that they won’t need, giving you less space for essentials. If you need a way to inspire older children, let them pack their own luggage. Getting them involved may keep them enthused about the holiday. Remember to check the baggage restrictions for weight before you leave the house. If you end up over the limit at the airport, you’ll have no choice but to chuck a few things in the bin.
Essential Travel Documents
Children aren’t immune to the law; they’ll still need a valid passport and possibly a visa. The rules and regulations for entry can vary from country to country. If you’re ever in doubt, check Go Abroad for the contact information of your destination country’s embassy in the US, and then give them a call.
Children’s passports usually only last for 5 years and take around 3 weeks to arrive after application. Make sure you check the status of your child’s passport before you make the holiday booking. If it’s out-of-date, leave an adequate amount of time to both order one and accommodate for excess time if there’s an issue with the application process.
Types of Insurance
It goes without saying that you’ll need travel insurance. Nowadays you can make bookings online using price comparison websites. While this allows you to get cheap deals, it’s always a good idea to check the fine print to make sure it provides adequate coverage, especially if your child suffers from a particular condition. If you’re ever in doubt, give the insurance company a call and ask them for more information.
Health and Safety
Making sure your child is safe and secure at all times is paramount. Stock up on over-the-counter medicines before you leave. When you’re abroad they’ll only be more difficult to find. Print out the phone number of the emergency services for your destination country and keep it tucked away in your wallet – you never know if you’ll need it.
Entertainment for the Journey
Getting to and from the airport is always the most boring part of the journey. Your children will quickly get agitated if you’ve got nothing to keep them entertained.
Pack a few travel games for the car. When you’re waiting at the check-in counter and going through security, play eye spy – this will keep their mind off the frustrations of waiting. Once you’re in the departure lounge, let them play before you fly.
On the Plane
Flying can be both a nerve wracking and exciting experience. If you’re children have never traveled via plane, they may get scared during the take-off and landing. A little role playing will go a long way and getting them to “play pilot” will make them feel more in control over what’s going on.
Bring sweets to give your children to help prevent their ears from popping. In addition, bring a few sick bags just in case they feel ill. If you’re child regularly suffers from travel sickness, give them a few travel sickness tablets before you board the plane.
Vacations are always an excuse for over-indulgence. While it’s okay to let your children eat a little more junk than usual, there’s no excuse for a poor diet. Drastic changes in diet could cause a stomach upset.
If your children have specific dietary requirements, pack enough food in your suitcase to last at least one day. When you arrive at your destination ask hotel staff or the local tourist centre where to get access to certain food. Better yet, enquire about the availably before you leave. Some countries have very little for people who are lactose intolerant.
Preparing your Children
You can prepare yourself to handle issues as much as you want, but don’t forget to prepare your children as well.
Reinforce the “don’t talk to strangers” rule before you leave and regularly throughout your trip. Tell them to seek aid from a police officer or attraction worker if they ever get lost. Write your contact details on a piece of paper and tell them to give it to an official if they get lost.
Traveling alone places all of the responsibility on you, which will only add to the stress. If you are a single parent, consider booking a single parent vacation. This way you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people and your children will easily make friends with other kids.
There may also be a few legal requirements to travel alone. For example, some countries will require written consent from the other parent. Even if it’s not a standard requirement, it’s always a good idea to get this document for emergencies.
With adequate planning and preparation there’s no reason why you won’t be able to enjoy your holiday to the fullest. Following these tips will make sure you’re prepared for virtually any eventuality, allowing you to relax and enjoy your holiday without constantly having your children’s welfare at the forefront of your mind.
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