International travel is a much more common thing to do with your family these days and it is easier than ever. There are many benefits to travelling overseas, so get amongst it! Here are our Top 10 Tips for international travel with kids.
1. Travel Insurance
This is a must when travelling as you never know what could happen. For a reasonably small fee, travel insurance covers you if you lose or get items stolen, get sick or get stuck (like the recent volcano ash problems). Hot tip – check out your credit cards as some have free travel insurance if you spend a certain amount on the actual holiday using this credit card. Ensure you also cover yourself and your family for pre-existing medical conditions (Diabetes, Asthma, etc.) as these are not covered by standard cover if you have an episode overseas.
2. Research, research, research
Before travelling overseas, make sure you research all the different activities you can do which would interest the kids and then see how far away they are from your accommodation. Sometimes accommodation is more expensive closer to the attractions, but when you consider the time and money spent getting there, it may be more worthwhile spending that extra few dollars to have closer accommodation.
During our last few overseas trips, especially Japan and Hong Kong, we found that they have fantastic public transport options and getting around is really easy…(once you understand how to read the map!). There are several ways to do this, you can get an app called “Rome2rio” which asks for your destination and then gives you several ways to make the trip and a rough travel time, whether it be by car, taxi, tram, subway, train or plane. It even gives you the approximate walk time for those who are really keen.
The other option is using the maps at the stations (often you can download a version of the map to your phone/tablet so you can preplan the trip). My main tip for this is take note of the colour of the transport line. Most of the time, the a certain coloured line represents a certain route and often to get to where you want to go, you need to change lines at certain stations so keep this in mind when getting from A to B. Most countries have transport cards too so that you put money onto the card instead of having to use cash every time which can be time consuming.
4. Travel when they are small
Most people argue that kids won’t remember it if they take them when they are small. But that is what photos and videos are for! Often overseas travel will be cheaper when travelling with children under six rather than teenagers, and let’s face it, little kids are way easier to please on a holiday than teenagers.
Entry to theme parks are cheaper, meals are often cheaper, public transport is more affordable or free, accommodation can be cheaper as sharing beds is often required and even the flights can be cheaper or sometimes free if travelling with children under 2 years.
5. Pack well!
6. Purchase Duty Free first
Buy your Duty Free before you leave and pick up on your return. The airport team store it for you and since you often have time to kill before boarding you can shop up a storm! The range is also larger in departures and, trust me, after a flight home and amazing holiday you don’t want to look around and buy stuff with tired kids. So, buy it in advance, quickly collect it and head for customs. Much easier.
7. Take a travel wallet
I have a large one that carries passports and travel documents, and a small one that I use as an everyday wallet. The small one is packed with only the cash and cards that I will use that day and the large one carries all other cards and cash in the hotel room safe (and please leave all the ones you don’t need at home in a safe place). I always collect the Departures and Arrivals cards too so that I can pre-fill these out before getting to the airport.
Nothing is worse than when the plane hasn’t got the arrival cards and you have to try and fill in the cards with sleeping children on your shoulder, I ALWAYS have these in my travel wallet.
8. Make copies
Copy your passports, itineraries, all bookings, insurance paperwork, important cards (ensuring the number to cancel the card should you need is able to be read), any important scripts (not that you can fill them but a pharmacist can then know what you need), and any important family numbers and emails in a document. Store these in a safe place for your travels and also have a copy saved on a cloud based system like Dropbox so that you can access from any device in a worst-case scenario that you lose everything.
9. Stay informed
It’s also a good idea to give your travel plans to a relative so they know where you are supposed to be at all times, and also register with Smarttraveller. This will enable updates to be emailed to you should anything happen in the country you are visiting, and it also one of the best ways our government can alert your family at home should the need arise. They can also send you a heap of travel advice and warnings for the country you are visiting www.smartraveller.gov.au
10. Mobile Phones.
Either pay a fee for international roaming or put a message on your phone and turn it on flight mode for your trip. This means that you can jump on WiFi and use your phone for taking photos and social media etc. Or, leave it at home. Be very careful if you put roaming on as it is really easy to chew up internet overseas and come home to a nasty surprise. I find using WiFi just fine – in most countries it is free and easy to find.
Travelling overseas definitely can be tough at times, especially with really small children. But I am so glad we have travelled with our boys since they were infants. It has made them exceptional travellers now. I hope these tips help you with your trip of a lifetime.