TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN
It is family vacation time! You are off to enjoy some time with the special young people in your life. It is an occasion to explore, to celebrate, to learn and of course to have fun. But when you are travelling with children, things do not always go so smoothly. With some simple advanced preparation you can avoid the major hassles of travelling with the whole family, and instead enjoy the enriching and fulfilling experience that every family vacation should be.
Everyone needs to do some advanced research when travelling with children, but it is especially important for divorced or separated parents, or anyone looking to bring another child that is legally not your own. It is strongly recommended that anyone traveling with children where not every legal guardian is present to bring along a letter of consent. This letter outlines the parent or guardian’s authorization for the child to be taken out of the country. This is essential for separated parents, but should also be a staple for any parent travelling with their child alone.
Consent letters do not need to be complicated and will help you avoid any legal issues when crossing the border. Depending on the country, there can be serious consequences for bringing in a child illegally, so always have a copy of the letter on hand along with the contact information of the guardian. Be sure to pass along your own itinerary to any guardian remaining at home so they are not only aware of their child’s whereabouts, but also to legally cover yourself. While none of these documents are required for domestic travel, it is never a bad idea to still carry them with you in case there are ever issues with the authorities or an emergency situation.
Click in the link below to open a letter of consent sample.
Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
Microsoft Word (.doc)
Once you have the legal issues out of the way, it is time to plan your trip. Carefully researching and planning a trip is always important, but when you are travelling with children it is even more essential to cover every aspect of your vacation. Depending on the location, some accommodations may have restrictions or limits on children. Additionally, depending on the age of the children involved, you want to find an accommodation that is deemed family friendly and has different activity options to keep the children busy.
When planning activities or excursions, always check on the age appropriateness and be aware that different cultures have various customs regarding the presence of children. When in doubt, ask a hotel concierge or vacation planner to suggest the most family friendly activities in the area.
When travelling with children, safety is a primary concern for parents. Before you leave, there are plenty of precautions to take. Be sure that all children have home and cell phone numbers memorized. It is always good to have them carrying around a card with basic information in case of separation from their guardians. Include your vacation and home information, along with names and emergency numbers. Have a contact at home that can be reached in case of a problem and carry your own cell phone with you for emergencies.
by Adventure Medical Kits [Adventure Medical Kits]
by Stephen Joseph [Stephen Joseph]
It is critical to communicate with your children regarding emergency procedures. They should know the basics, like not talking to strangers, but they should also be aware of what to do given different circumstances. Depending on the age of the children, go through different situations and challenge them to come up with a plan of action. This dialogue will not only communicate to them the best methods of staying safe, but will also teach them to think quickly and reduce panic. While more suitable for teenagers, young children should go through the activity for the sake of repetitive learning.
Once you are at your destination, plan emergency procedures with your children. For every destination you travel to, choose a ‘safe place’, a location where everyone in the family can meet in case anyone is separated. Ensure this place would be easily located by all members and if the children are young, write the location on the information card so other visitors can help if needed. ‘Safe places’ should be chosen for your hotel complex, any excursion activities, and even transportation centres. If travelling with larger numbers of children, establish a mandatory ‘buddy system’, pairing older or more mature children with younger members of the family.
Travelling with children presents unique challenges. You are not only responsible for yourself, but you have other dependent lives relying on your guidance. With some advanced preparation, research, and communication, the primary difficulties of travelling with children can be avoided.