By Contributor Jen Shragge
Traveling abroad with young children is no easy feat. Many people assume that traveling half way across the world with a child under the age of five is simply crazy. While planning a recent trip to India with our four and a half year old, let me assure you that there were many moments where I started to think, “Am I crazy?” or “What are thinking?”; however, having your child see other parts of the world is both gratifying and ultimately well worth the hassle. Follow these easy (I’m using that word very lightly) six steps and you’re on your way!
- Be prepared.
Make a list and check it twice. There are many parts of this amazing world where children are potty trained before the age of two (i.e no such thing as a pull ups or size 5 diapers) or where bottles and sippy cups do not exist. Make sure you know what you cannot live without and then pack it.
- Visit a travel clinic.
Even if you are not a full subscriber to the standard North American vaccination schedule, when you travel abroad you do not want to mess with disease. Find out what is recommended. Do your homework (Canadians can look here: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/countries-pays/index-eng.php and Americans can reference the CDC here: http://www.cdc.gov/) and make sure you protect yourself and your child. Nothing will kill a trip of a lifetime faster than an emergency visit to a local hospital.
- Bring your own food.
While exploring new places and trying new foods seems exciting to most grown-ups, children depend on consistency and familiarity and can be very resistant to trying new things at the best of times. This becomes especially relevant if you are traveling to an area known for spicier foods, foods with very strong flavours or where clean water is not readily available. Bring along instant oatmeal packets, single serving peanut or other nut butters, pouch-style apple sauces and lots of granola bars and crackers. Just be sure to declare the items you have if questioned at customs at your destination.
- Embrace the local culture.
Even though I have just advised that you bring lots of food and snacks, try your best to embrace everything the local culture has to offer and encourage your little one to do the same. Even if you get shut down each time, continue to offer local foods or cultural experiences whenever possible. My son powered through coconut water straight out of a fresh young coconut in Goa, India without much encouragement from his (not as keen) parents.
- Bring a set of wheels.
If you have a young preschooler and are traveling to a locale where you will be doing a lot of walking, look into investing in a good quality travel/umbrella stroller. One that fully reclines becomes invaluable if kiddo needs a nap at an odd time or in the middle of the day. If you have an older child, a folding razor scooter can become a lifesaver if little darling is complaining endlessly about the walking; it also folds up nice and small and fits into a suitcase with ease.
- Let. It. Go.
Let go of the idea of bedtimes, meal times, appropriate foods and television/screen time. Part of traveling means you and your child will be all messed up for some number of days and if you want to keep sane, you simply have to roll with it. Jetlag has no real “cures” and does eventually dissipate. Be prepared for early mornings or late nights, or both, for a few days after arrival and especially after returning home.
Have you made the trek abroad with little ones? What are some of your best travel tips?
Jen Shragge lives just south of Vancouver, BC with her Kid, Hubby and Doggie. When she’s not trying to make the world greener, she is trying to get her family to eat more green. She writes about her challenges and includes the recipes at cookingforthecarnivore.
33 Comments on “Six Tips for Traveling Abroad with Young Children Without Going Crazy”
Wonderful tips! Didn’t really think about the diapers one, thanks for sharing!
Going to Asia this summer break with two kids under five……Thanks for the tips!!!
Some great tips. Travelling with children definitely takes a lot of planning and patience!
Wonderful and very useful tips! I love the tip about bring your own wheels for the younger kids!
Great tips!!! Especially the last one, let it go!! Love them thanks so much for posting
great tips to follow, I never travelled with my girls when they were young, to me it was to stressful
These are great tips! I agree with packing your own food….I bring LOTS of snacks. There’s is nothing worse than a hungry child!
Great tips which I can only agree with. I had 7 kids that travelled with us around the world. It wasn’t always easy but it was fun.
Good tips thanks
Here is one more tip I would like to share that goes in a little different direction. We all know that there is extra commotion and distraction when traveling with kids which can lead to leaving things behind. I found this out while traveling to Canada with my son and my laptop got left behind at a cafe. Luckily for me I had a tracer tag on it. A waiter where I ate lunch found it and entered my tracker number on the website and I was sent a text message (and an email) before I ever even knew it was missing. I was able to recover it before leaving Toronto. I’m not sure what would have happened had I not discovered it until the next day when I was 400 miles away. The tags are available through Mystufflostandfound.com. They saved my trip and I now have them on almost everything that goes with me on a trip.
Excellent tips! We have done a few international trips and it’s amazing how much stuff you prepare for in advance and it still isn’t enough.
Best thing to do when travelling with kids, is take the kids to the grand parents and leave them there for a week while you jet off hassle free without them nipping your head constantly about the heat, the food, the pool, heck almost anything! Problem solved!!
Love the bring a set of wheels tip. Ive been left wandering around a city I havent been before with my son without a stroller or wagon, my goodness was that an adventure.
no.1-Be prepared.-I have never traveled abroad with small children so I would not know where to start. I know that this first tip is a no-brainer. I would have expected to buy diapers and bottles anywhere. I would think many Mothers would appreciate this tip.
Visit a Travel Clinic– \I agree with you that anyone travelling abroad, especially with a small child, should have their immunizations up to date.
You gave us the information to find out what we need and where to go
Thank you for this excellent tip.
Bring your own food; -no. 3–I imagine that many parents do not think to do this. I really don’t think I would have thought to do it but we didn’t travel wlith young children. This is a marvellous tip and there are many foods available for young children that are prepackaged and would make this easy to do.
no.4-Embrace the Local Culture
I can understand, as parents, that we don’t want to expose our children to food or water that may sicken them or worse. It seems to be a very fine line between sampling local cuisine and risking digestive upsets.
no.5-Bring a set of wheels.– I wonder just how many parents think of bringing wheels for the older child who will probably get fed up after walking a bit and want to be carried. I think most of us would think of the stroller and I am happy that you suggested wheels for the older child.
Travelling with small children -no.6-Let It Go.–Wonderful advice. Go with the flow. We have never travelled with toddlers but when we travel with older children, we try to have everyone have a good time and, except for safety issues, allow everyone to have a relaxing and happy time.
Great tips , the diaper one is an amazing idea … i will be carrying some of my grandsons diapers with me from now on for that reason 🙂 thanks for sharing 🙂
These are some wonderful tips thanks for sharing
You can never be to careful when travelling abroad,tips every one should know
Very nice photo,I will be happy when we can see he beach again
Thanks so much for sharing these tips
Travelling with children definitely takes a lot of Mommy patience!
I think the food tip is particularly helpful, peckish children are inclined to whine which is wearing on everyone.
These are great tips! I agree with packing your own food it saves on time and money!
Travelling with children definitely takes a lot patience!
Travelling with children definitely takes a lot patience as sometimes they can play on your last nerve lol
I like the diaper one its amazing
Bringing your own food is essential if you have a picky eater. Can’t wait to take my LO abroad.
I must say, it takes guts and a whole lot of patience, oh I forgot; bravery to travel to the other side of the world and doing it with a baby or any young age kid is something else.
Hope to travel abroad with the kids one day.