We took our first international trip with our first child back in 2002. It was definitely an adventure with awesome times and, um, learning times. Since then our family has grown to five (although it has been six a few times if you include our foreign exchange daughters) and all three of the kids have moved onto their second, well-worn passports. Here are a few things we’ve learned through the years. (Hopefully with these, and the other tips I share here on MomsTravelTales, you’ll have fewer ‘learning’ times and more of those awesome times. Here’s my top eight:
1. Check your passport expiration dates.
In most countries your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your return date. I learned this on on a Monday before traveling to Dubai on Friday with a passport that would not have worked at the airport, even though it was valid for all my intended travel dates. (I’m glad I learned in time and was able to get a new passport expedited for my daughter!)
And yes, all travelers must have a passport if you are leaving the United States, even newborn babies.
2. Bring basic medicines with you (fever reducers, cough medicines, allergy medicine) with you so you won’t be wondering what the equivalent might be. Also medicine measuring cups or syringes and a dosage chart for small children.
3. Assimilate to the new time as soon as possible.
4. Find out about traditional eating times and when the restaurants will be open. Buy groceries to be ready, if needed. One one trip to Corsica, France we could not find any restaurants open for several hours in the middle of the day. We learned quickly to stock up with a little one whose belly was used to eating at that time.
5. If your children are very young, bring familiar dried snacks from home. (No fruit, seeds or nuts, though. They aren’t allowed to cross country lines.)
6. If your child wears diapers, consider packing enough diapers for the trip… that way you’ll have all that extra room in your suitcase to bring home souvenirs.
7. Check with your wireless provider before you travel to investigate your options abroad. This includes cruising, where cellular rates really skyrocket. Often we just turn our phones completely off when traveling to avoid costly mistakes. If you must remain connected, be sure to ask specific questions before you go. Here are a few links that might help:
8. Familiarize yourself with a few words in the country’s language, but remember that a smile is the most important ‘language’ in any country you visit. Don’t worry if you don’t speak the official language. Be friendly and you’ll do just fine.
Miss any days or want to know what’s ahead? Here are all 12 Days of Christmas Travel Tips on MomsTravelTales:
- Day 1: One pep talk about family travel
- Day 2: The two best ways to manage a time zone change
- Day 3: Three reasons to consider a hotel staycation in December
- Day 4: Four ways to minimize stress on travel days
- Day 5: Five ways to be a gracious overnight houseguest
- Day 6: Six ideas for pampering overnight guests
- Day 7: Seven people to tip when traveling (and how much)
- Day 8: Eight tips for international travel
- Day 9: Nine secrets for a great hotel stay with kids
- Day 10: Ten things to keep in mind when flying with children
- Day 11: Eleven tried and true ways to beat boredom while waiting
- Day 12: Twelve things I’ve learned about travel with kids
Want to know more than just travel?
Swing by any of the other 7 sites during the 12 Days of Christmas and here’s what you’ll learn: (And these girls know their stuff!)
- Christmas Homeschool Fun: 1+1+1=1
- Christmas Decorations: Songbird
- Tips for a Healthy Holiday: The Thrifty Mama
- Saving Money: Surviving the Stores
- Christmas Recipes: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
- Christmas Family Fun: Life as Mom
- Homemade Christmas Gifts: The Happy Housewife