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12 great tips for travelling with children

Travelling with children takes a lot of planning, patience and effort. Here are twelve tips that will make the trip better, easier, more ahhh than arghhh 🙂

1. Check the validity of your passports.

Be sure they’re good for 3 months after the day of your arrival home. Many people make the mistake of thinking that as long as they’re back home before their passports expire they’ll be fine. (It seems like common sense doesn’t it?) But not so. Authorities will often demand that your passport be good for several weeks — even several months for some countries — past the day of your arrival home. Some airlines will not let you board the plane if there is not enough extra time on your passport.

2. Scan your passports and email them to yourself

Along with any other important documents — e.g. green card, birth certificate, the visa pages of your passport. If you ever lose your passports abroad, this will save you a ton of time and hassle when you have to replace them.

3. Notify your credit card companies before you leave.

Banks are very careful about fraud nowadays — and run algorithms on your billing history to spot any irregularities. A charge from a country or city that you’ve never previously had a charge from could easily get your credit card frozen. And unfreezing your account from a foreign city in a different time zone, will be a lot harder than just calling your bank before departure.

4. Take more than one credit or debit card.

Cards work differently in foreign countries, some will work at bank ATM but not at a corner store ATM, others will work in restaurants but not at an ATM. There are a number of complex rules and reasons but if you don’t work in the banking industry you’ll never know all of them. The best remedy is to take multiple cards.

5. Make an Out-The-Door list.

Leaving for the airport — is one of the most stressful times of any trip. Have a list of things you need to grab as you’re leaving your home. I don’t mean a list of things you need to take (i.e. 2 pairs of pants, 3 t-shirts). I mean a list of things you’ll need to physically grab. It should be a last minute checklist of all the little (and big) things you’ll need as you are going out the door. There will be the bags of course, the money belt, some water in the fridge for the airport, some snacks on the counter and sweaters for the plane. Plus all the indispensables you’ll want to double-check one last time before heading to the airport: passports, credit cards, cash. There’s a lot to remember — so have a list for it!

6. Put enough in your carry-on bags for the first day or 2 of your trip.

This is good advice for anyone but especially when travelling with kids. If your bags are lost you don’t want to be hunting for a raincoat or a pair of shorts immediately after your arrival in a new city or country.

7. Count your suitcases, backpacks, handbags and keep the number in your head.

This is simple and maybe painfully obvious, but it sure helps. You hop in a taxi, “bag count — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – yep they’re all here”. Easy. (Bigger families may want to conduct a kid count as well).

8. Welcome — don’t fear — airport security.

Security checkpoints force parents to be lean and efficient with their packing. Take what you need but don’t take what is unnecessary. Security can also be a good reason not to take stuff on the plane that you don’t want your kid to have (i.e. your kid’s new water gun). And insisting that you keep all your little bottles and creams in a Ziploc bag — what a great idea!

9. Don’t line up early for the planes

Don’t line up for anything where you have a reserved seat. If you’re one of those people who like to maximise their time on the airplane, by all means, board early, get that seat warm, burn through all your snacks before anyone else has even boarded. How great! You’ll have enough time on the plane without artificially extending it. As my son said on our return trip from Tokyo, “We have to go when they say final call right Dad?” Right!

10. One parent in charge.

Don’t share the burden of any one duty while travelling. Packing for example. One person packs and knows where everything is. Two people pack and no one really knows where anything is. Same with hotels. One person plans them, arranges them, and books them. Do you have that confirmation email or do I? Na-Uh!

11. Take First Aid Tape — aka surgical tape.

This stuff is great. Adhesive tape that is so much easier to apply than a band aid and actually sticks to fingers, toes, and the places kids really get cuts.

12. Stay Positive! Be Happy!

This can mean many things. For starters, you need a keen eye for what’s important and what’s not. With the typical boundaries and rules turned upside down, it’s very easy to become a “No, No, No, No” parent. Focus on the important stuff. Things that make your day easier and keep everyone safe. Try to hear yourself talking — you should be saying far more positive things than negative things.
Like at home, praise effort not results.

Praise the process not the outcome. Comment on how hard they worked or how patient they were, not how well they did a task or how good they are at something.

And finally it means, living in the moment and taking everything in that you can. Live it! Experience it! Try new things and get out of your comfort zone. Become a kid again — explore, investigate, ask questions — and your children will come right along with you.

Happy travels


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