It’s summertime! That means you’re probably planning a family vacation, if you have not done so already. Traveling with young children can be a daunting task, especially if you’re thinking about traveling abroad. You may be wondering, how will my child handle a long flight or a foreign country? What if they misbehave or get homesick?
The good news is, there are several measures you can take to make sure your family vacation abroad will be fun and safe–without breaking the bank. While it might not be the most budget-friendly idea to go overseas for your family vacation with only a month’s notice, it’s definitely something to consider for next summer. Sierra Lytle, a travel advisor at House of Travel, offers some advice on what you can do.
HOW DO I PLAN AN INTERNATIONAL TRIP FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN?
Plan ahead of time! “I do suggest you start planning for international travel about 10-11 months out,” Sierra says. “Airlines release availability about 11 months ahead of time. Typically there is good pricing about a week to six months after they release the availability.”
Make sure everyone has the proper vaccinations–and not just for COVID-19. Plenty of countries recommend tourists be vaccinated against specific diseases that may not be prevalent in the United States. You also want to make sure everyone has passports that are still valid.
For the long flight, it’s important to bring books, toys, and games to keep your children entertained, and keep a small blanket for when they want to take a nap. Along with the toys, have your child bring a security blanket or a stuffed animal that reminds them of home so that they will feel safer while being overseas. Don’t forget the snacks!
WHAT ARE THE BEST PLACES TO GO?
“One of my favorite destinations is Italy,” says Sierra. “I think it has a great variety of things to do for families. Europe is starting to open back up a lot now, so Greece, Ireland, England, and France are other fun destinations that are also family-friendly.”
As far as places that are too dangerous for kids, you should avoid cities that are too crowded or have streets that are too narrow, winding, and steep. Before you book a trip, do some quick research to make sure the area is safe for children and has child-friendly attractions.
HOW DO YOU PLAN AN INTERNATIONAL TRIP?
“Lots of tour companies specialize in family and generational trips,” Sierra answers. “If you decide to go with a tour company, you don’t have to worry about planning all the little details. They do everything for you, from luggage handling to tour guiding, to handling transportation.” It’s also important to book any train tickets about three-four months ahead of time and five-six months in advance for rental cars. You need to plan your tours and sightseeing in advance, too, because tourist destinations can fill up quickly.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK?
Make sure you pack lightly. Sierra suggests limiting yourself to a carry on or a backpack and one suitcase per person; give your children small suitcases so they can roll it themselves. Even if you’re only visiting one country, you’re still going to move around within that country and have multiple accommodations.
“Don’t forget to pack a universal plug adaptor!” Sierra says. Other important things to pack would be your passport, sunscreen, your credit and debit card, and good walking shoes. If you bring cash, make sure you’re bringing the appropriate currency of the country you’re visiting, such as the European euro.
HOW CAN I SAVE MONEY?
“The fall, winter, and spring are usually more budget-friendly times to travel in comparison to summertime,” says Sierra. But, if you don’t plan on traveling internationally for spring or fall break, there are still ways you can save money. Other than booking everything way in advance, you can sometimes package your airfare with accommodations and receive a discount. You should also establish a budget for souvenirs and snacks, and try to eat a meal in your hotel or rental space at least once a day. It can be costly to spend money on a tour company, so you can save money by piecing together the trip yourself and having it all planned out for when you get there. There are plenty of things you can see and do for free. ■