1) Packing list
2) Identification papers for a child(ren) traveling to Mexico, Canada or Caribbean with a solo parent
3) Know before you go ideas from ASTA
- Wallet and/or purse and cash
- Credit cards and/or traveler’s checks (plus list of numbers of both)
- ID or driver’s license
- Car and house keys (plus duplicate sets kept in different bags)
- Eye glasses and/or contact lenses (plus lens cleaner)
- Medical insurance cards
- Prescriptions and other medications
- Itineraries, tickets and reservation confirmations
- Maps and directions
- Totebag or backpack for day use
- Camera and film
- Books and magazines for kids and adults
- Toys, playing cards, small games
- Flashlight and batteries
- Umbrella and rain jackets
- Large plastic bags for laundry and wet items
- Small plastic bags
- Disposable wipes (or put damp paper towels in plastic bags)
- Travel alarm
- Sewing kit
- First-aid kit (see separate packing list)
- Water/juice boxes, no-spill cups
- Paper napkins/towels
- Outfits for each day (place kids’ outfits for each day in zip-lock bags)
- Undergarments, Socks & Shoes
- Bathing suits
- Hats & Accessories
- Outerwear in winter
- Sportswear if needed
- Toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash
- Anti-Perspirant / Deodorant
- Combs, brushes, hair accessories, blow dryer (if hotel doesn’t have)
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Sunscreens and lip balm
- Insect repellent
- Shaving supplies
- Nail clippers, scissors and emery boards
- Cotton balls and/or swabs
- Feminine hygiene items
- Car seat
- Diaper bag
- Disposable diapers
- Changing pad
- Baby powder and lotion
- Zippered plastic bags
- Wet wipes
- Bathing supplies
- Nursing pads and burp pads
- Baby food and spoon
- Bottles, nipples and caps
- Formula and/or juice
- Changes of clothing
- Jacket or sweater
- Collapsible stroller with canopy or umbrella
- Front or back child-carrying pack, or sling style
- Waterproof sheets
- Bathing supplies
- Large plastic bags for wet clothes
Nice to Have:
- Room intercom
- Night light
- Radio/tape player, tapes, headphones and batteries
- Frisbee, sports equipment
- Guidebooks and brochures
- Stain remover stick
- Portable high chair or booster seat
- Portable crib or playpen
- Outlet covers
IDENTITY PAPER REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILDREN WHEN TRAVELING TO MEXICO, CANADA OR CARIBBEAN WITH A SOLO PARENT
When traveling across a national border, a valid passport is a requirement for everyone. However, when a solo parent regardless of marital status, travels with a child, they also must bring:
1) child’s proof of identity – usually an original or certified copy of the birth certificate or adoption papers; photocopies are not acceptable (the federal site www.travel.state.gov has additional information).
2) official proof of custody (if applicable).
3) notarized letter signed by the other parent or guardian consenting to the trip (include the destination, the dates of travel, and authorization for emergency medical care).
For Great Vacations, Know Before You Go
Bonding and vacationing together as a family are popular, especially among families moved by the desire to get closer to loved ones. Kids especially can start a lifelong store of treasured memories and fun learning experiences. For parents, however, traveling with children can be a test of patience.
Help is at hand on the Web site of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), where a “traveling with children” section offers some ingenious tips for making sure family vacations are fun for everyone (http://www.travelsense.org/tips/children.asp ).
Before leaving, start a countdown calendar that makes waiting fun. Let kids pack bags of their own with favorite clothes and toys. In your own carry bag, pack hard candies and gum, hand wipes, tissues, and a surprise toy for each child.
Allow plenty of time for check-in and also between connecting flights. Arriving early to board together prevents last minute delays and confusion. Have a safety plan in case anyone gets separated at the airport. Discuss where to meet and what to do. Do this for each place you go on your trip.
Have a daily schedule with some flexible, free time for each family member. Give a copy to family members with phone numbers and addresses of hotels where you’re staying, transportation information and emergency contact information. If possible, each family member should have a cell phone or walkie-talkie to keep in touch at all times.
When flying with small children, the best seats are the first row in economy class. There’s a lot of legroom, and you’ll be a bit sequestered from most of the plane when the kids get cranky and other passengers get annoyed. Get up, stretch and walk around with your children often during the flight to save everyone’s sanity.
Keep bottled water and lotion on hand to rehydrate during the flight. Bring chewing gum (pacifiers and bottles for little ones) to lessen the effects of changing air pressure. Pack a few toys in your carry-on to bring out one by one to keep children from getting cranky.
If renting a car, call the car rental company to make sure they offer car seats and installation. If not, you’ll have to bring your own in addition to a collapsible stroller. If nothing else, a simple call may save you having to bring an extra piece of equipment.
For additional related tips, visit http://www.travelsense.org/tips/children.asp .
More Family Travel Tips
. Family trips can be stressful and rewarding at the same time.
. Successfully planning a trip requires extensive preparation and smart planning.
. The demand for family travel products has dramatically increased. Approximately 60 percent of ASTA agents surveyed last year said they were currently booking more family vacation travel as compared to the previous year.
. Agents can simplify the process of planning a family trip. They offer planning services that include air, hotel, sightseeing and cruises. They also offer helpful travel information on everything from travel insurance to currency exchange rates. In addition, travel agents provide clients with follow-up help should anything happen along the trip.
. The first step is to designate a group leader. If you decide to book separately, using one agent is simplest and will get you the best group rates.
. Families should book travel well in advance. Ask for non-stop flights and consider trip cancellation insurance.
. Request paper tickets for your group to avoid potential boarding problems.
. Allow plenty of time for check-in and between connecting flights. Establishing a “buddy system” may prevent family members from getting lost or left behind at the airport.
. All-inclusive cruises and resorts simplify planning and offer a variety of activities that appeal to the entire family. Condominiums can be your most convenient choice since they offer amenities like full kitchens and multiple bedrooms. Cruises are a good choice because they are all inclusive and feature activities for every age group.
. Look for resorts that advertise children’s programs, not just facilities.
. Ask for connecting rooms, not adjoining, with a refrigerator, if traveling with children.
. Be flexible and try taking turns when planning the groups’ activities. Include children in decision-making and plan back-up activities. Don’t over-plan. Give everyone time to rest or pursue their own interests.
. When traveling with tots, reserve a crib in advance and make sure your hotel has a laundry room on the premises. A light umbrella stroller and child carrying backpack are among the easiest ways to carry little ones and a car seat helps settle baby during feeding times.
. Pack just a few favorite toys and books along with plenty of snacks. Also, don’t forget a familiar blanket. Freeze juice boxes if you’ll be taking a long flight or walking around all day.
. Encourage teens to pack books, snacks and CDs or cassette headsets in carry-on luggage. If possible, let them bring along a friend.
. Chronicle all vital medical information and pack a copy of prescriptions. Bring along a cellular phone or pager in case someone gets lost. Follow the old saying: There’s safety in numbers.
. Remember, no matter how meticulously you plan, you can’t please everyone all the time – just enjoy your time with each other, and bring your sense of humor.
USTOA’s Ten Commandments for Family Travel
According to an informal survey organized by the U.S. Tour Operator Association (USTOA), when planning family trips, the biggest challenge is creating an experience that appeals to everyone. As families look for more ways to spend quality time together, family travel is on the rise. Consequently, tour operators are capitalizing on this trend by increasingly developing special itineraries suited to kids and adults.
To help pave the path to a successful family trip, the experts at USTOA have created a “10 commandments” list for parents.
1. Keep expectations realistic
Knowing that traveling with your children won’t necessarily be the same romp you took during your single days, for example, will help keep everybody’s expectations in check.
2. Select the destination wisely
Try to interest children in the destination before leaving on vacation, advises Tauck World Discovery. Use interesting books, fun movies or stories about the destination to generate interest with young family members.
3. Keep kids involved
Get everyone to participate in selecting the destination and activities, advises Abercrombie & Kent, Inc. When children (especially teens) have a choice, they feel more invested in the trip.
4. Stay aware of your family’s needs
Uniworld says parents should know whether their children will respond well to specific kinds of travel, such as a river cruise, while Collette Vacations suggests parents remember that escorted tours are usually best for adults.
5. Pack lightly
The less you carry, the less likely you are to lose the items most important to your children. Plus all that extra room leaves more space for souvenir and gift shopping.
6. Understand children’s limitations
It is important to be flexible. Parents shouldn’t feel compelled to do everything on an itinerary if their kids need more leisure time than others. Parents need to make sure there is enough down time for kids to rest and recharge. Goway Travel suggests scheduling time so kids can laze on the beach or visit a park or zoo.
7. Keep children occupied
Take a DVD player with the kids’ favorite movies — great for plane rides or for relaxation after a day out. Give kids a daily allowance so they know what they can spend, and provide them with a journal and a camera so that they can record the vacation. Keep snacks and games on hand for motorcoach rides and for travel in foreign countries.
8. Do not leave children unattended
Always be sure that your children are attended by a trusted family member or by a childcare professional.
9. Let children know that behavior counts
Be sure children understand that it is important to be polite and respectful when traveling with other people.
10. Consider scheduling pre-nights
When traveling long distances, pre-nights are recommended — especially for families with younger kids. Additional nights will help acclimate kids to a new time zone and will get them into a more normal routine.