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Traveling Abroad With Children



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Traveling Abroad With Children

  1. 1. Traveling Abroad with Kids BY JANET GROENE Passport processing takes forever. Start early, use your local post office if possible, and things go fastest if both parents apply together. If time is short, deal with an expediter such as G3Visas and Passports, Inc. ( Their offices are in major cities and they also work via FedEx. Summer Jenkins at G3 says visas are required by some countries, sometimes for adults only and sometimes for everyone. That requires even more advance planning. Check ahead. T hings have changed since your parents took you on your first trip outside the United States. Today, you need to know ASSURING CREATURE COMFORTS exactly what your own family must do before, during and Your family’s health and safety come first. There’s no need here perhaps after the trip. for a checklist. Mommy blogs are filled with them. Just go to any good infant/children’s department and look for things you’ll need for LEGAL ENTANGLEMENTS First, identity regulations have been tightened immensely. Because of child trafficking, parental abduction and the war on terror, authorities look carefully at everyone including infants and children. Not only do ABOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE children need their own passports in most cases, (see http://travel.state. gov) adults need documentation proving who they are and whether they have rights to take the children across a national border. T ravel insurance policies range from near-worthless to med-evac plans that fly you home from anywhere in the world in a fully staffed air ambulance. A four-year-old girl was flown home to Ohio from Mongolia with When one parent is traveling, he or she needs written, notarized high fever and a respiratory infection. The cost would have been $121,000 permission from the other to take the child into or out of the country. but it was covered by the family’s $385-a-year policy from MedJet Assist. If divorce is involved you also need copies of divorce and custody Travel agents offer trip cancellation, trip interruption and many other papers. Mischelle Davis, a step-mom, also carries a copy of her policies, but read the fine print. Here’s just one example of how small marriage certificate proving she’s married to her step-child’s father. words make a big difference. You book an expensive cruise and buy trip In many locales, non-parents also need notarized permission to get cancellation insurance. Then your aunt has a stroke and, as her sole medical treatment for a minor. caregiver, you must cancel or postpone the cruise. Some policies cover What used to be an innocent trip to Canada, the Bahamas or any medical emergency, some cover only emergencies involving ticketed Mexico with Grandma now becomes an international incident. It’s not passengers, and some cover next-of-kin such as a mother or brother but not required but is smart also to bring copies of birth certificates to prove aunts or cousins. Some policies provide a full refund, some cover only the parentage and citizenship, or to help when replacing a lost or stolen cost of re-booking. Some homeowner insurance and car insurance cover passport. All papers should be safeguarded. Have backup copies with travel concerns, but check to see if they apply outside the U.S. you and kept safely at home. 16 Houston Family Magazine | May 2010
  2. 2. ABOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE A mother with severe headaches baffled doctors until she mentioned she’d just returned from South America. The doctor knew that a rare form of meningitis was raging in the area she had visited. She recovered, thanks to prompt diagnosis and treatment. If anyone in your family becomes ill after a trip, tell the doctor where you’ve been. It could be a vital clue to diseases that don’t occur in your hometown or to deep-vein thrombosis, which can occur after a long flight. your travel, your kids and your destination. You might need, say, a kit for diaper changing on dirty surfaces, a combination car seat/stroller (great for airplanes too) or special gear for a rainy climate, extreme cold or tropical heat. Update immunizations including tetanus shots for Mom and Dad. Any other prophylaxis recommended by your doctors, such as malaria preventive?. With your pediatrician’s help, put together a first aid kit for the child and the destination. (Itchy bites? Sun screen? Jellyfish stings? Motion sickness?) HOW CHEAP IS TOO CHEAP? After her child awoke in Europe with a scary, 2 a.m. fever, author Meryl Pearlstein recommends going first class. She was glad to be in a four-star hotel with 24-hour front desk, English language skills and doctors on call. At dirt-cheap places you may be on your own during emergencies, unable to speak the language or find an ER, she warns. Philip Farina ( is a leading authority on hotel security. He recommends staying at hotels that have a 24-hour security staff, one that doesn’t perform any other duties such as delivering pizza that comes to the front desk. In most (but not all) cases, better hotels also have better security. Here are additional tips on international travel with children. ■ Many nations require vaccinations for yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, typhoid and/or rabies, says Corinne McDermott, founder of Have Baby Will Travel. Are such shots right for your family? ■ Jody Halsted of ( recommends taking an inexpensive umbrella stroller, even for children who are a bit oversize. It’s easily gate checked, comes in handy for all sorts of hauling tasks, and you’re not out much money if it’s damaged or stolen. ■ Don’t expect North American-style handicap access overseas. That means more stairs, no elevators and unpaved pathways and trails. Backpacks, which can go anywhere your feet can take you, may be more preferable than a stroller or carriage. ■ Check with ( for latest advisories on your destination’s health situation. Even highly developed nations have measles or flu outbreaks. ■Passports are pricey. If you simply want to take the family to the Caribbean or South Seas, passports are not required on American soil including Hawaii, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. If you’re taking a cruise that stops at some American ports, some non-American, the cruise line will advise you. Janet Groene is a professional travelwriter and a columnist for Family Motor Coaching magazine. She develops healthful, economical trail mix recipes for family travel at 18 Houston Family Magazine | May 2010