Traveling- in any capacity- comes with its fair share of challenges. Whether you’re taking a weekend get-away close to home, or planning an extended road trip- there will always be decisions to make and things to prepare. Throw kids into the mix- and you are CERTAIN to have a few extra crazy moments. (If you don’t believe me, read this.)
And taking all this one step further- traveling abroad with kids will likely never be free from misadventure!
However, this is not said to discourage you from traveling abroad with kids. Adventures overseas can be some of the most educational and wonderful family experiences. Children get the opportunity to see other cultures, landscapes and ways of living. Traveling abroad with your children is truly a life changing and memorable experience.
In order to make it the most positive and memorable (in a good way!) experience, here are 5 tips for traveling abroad with kids:
- Educate: Prior to traveling abroad talk to your children about what they will experience. This is a great opportunity to teach them about the country you will visit. Pull out a map and show them the route you will take to get there. Prepare your children for any cultural and language differences. Also, talk to them if they will experience any unfamiliar customs, food, or sights. The more kids know going into the trip, the more they will absorb. It will also help them feel more comfortable as they encounter differences.
- Research: I’ve never been much of a “wing it” type of person. But my husband thrives in those type of situations. However, with kids sometimes it’s just not possible. Prepare as much of your journey as possible. Know when and where you’ll be able to regroup or eat. For example, we’ve found food options abroad to be very different than in America. There are not restaurants or grocery stores on every corner and often they keep different hours. Likewise, be sure you’ve exchanged some money prior to landing in a new country (read my tips for using money abroad- here.)
- Medicine: Always travel with familiar children’s medicine for minor issues- even if you don’t plan to use it! The last time we traveled abroad with our children my son began to run a fever. What should have been a very simple solution- if I’d bothered to pack our Children’s Motrin- turned into a very unnerving situation. Not only was the familiar medicine not available overseas, but I had to rely on a very spotty communication due to a language difference to find something similar. I also had to worry about understanding the measurement conversions and how my son would react to the new medicine. Again, what would have been a very simple issue turned into a stressful situation abroad!
- Emergency Communication: As I’ve mentioned, language may be an issue when you travel abroad with kids. In addition to the general communication barriers, as a parent you need to worry about the unlikely (but possible) event that you become separated from your children while traveling. My kids have known my cell phone number since the moment they could talk; however, I wasn’t confident everyone in a foreign country would know how to get ahold of me just based on the phone number my child could provide. As an added measure of security, we wrote our information along with the hotels where we were staying on a card. Every morning I tucked the cards into my children’s pockets. This gave me the piece of mind that if I somehow became separated from my kids, someone would be able to- at the very least- get in contact with our hotel.
- Document: If you’re anything like me, I assume you’ll be taking about 6 million pictures during your trip. But I highly recommend encouraging your children to document the trip in their own special way. It’s truly amazing to see how differently a child views and remembers a new experience. And even among your children there may be very big differences! Don’t limit your kids to the photographs you take. Encourage them to record their travel memories in a journal. Even younger kids enjoy drawing pictures of the places they see (parents can help record the words that might describe the picture!) Years after the trip your children will be thankful to have those precious experiences documented.
Finally, the two most important things to keep in mind when traveling abroad with kids are: stay safe and have fun!
Do you have any tips for traveling abroad with your children?