With the arrival of summer, longer departures begin for families taking to the road for vacations and adventure.
One concern, of course, is how the kids will weather the on-road voyage.
Here are some tips when traveling by car:
- Plan your travel pace (stopping every 2-3 hours will benefit driver and passengers.
- Pack with the children’s ages, interests, and stopping places in mind, include some surprise gifts for the younger ones, plus appropriate in-car snacks and drinks.
- Consider the children’s interests (and again, ages) and let them pick what interests them, including books, DVD’s (not to use the entire trip but as a treat on longer trips), and travel games found at department stores. But be wary of anything with lots of pieces since they can easily get lost in the car.
- Finally, consider the trip as part of the vacation, not just an ordeal between points A and B, and convey that attitude to all the passengers, including spouses.
Sometimes, trips are not domestic and not by car.
Here are some general travel tips:
Passports for Children – All U.S. citizens including infants and children must have a valid passport to travel internationally by air. A passport card can be used for automobile and cruise ship travel to Canada and Mexico from the United States.
Cruising with Children – Cruise lines generally require at least one legal adult (age 21 or higher) to occupy every stateroom to eliminate children cruising alone. This person also needs to be a legal parent or guardian. Cruise lines also require a notarized letter of authorization if a child is sailing with only one parent, other non-custodial adults, or has a different last name than the responsible legal adult.
International Solo Parent Travel – When visiting a foreign country – including Mexico and Canada – as a lone adult with a minor child under age 18, additional travel documentation is required. To help prevent cases of parental abduction and international child trafficking, many countries now require proof of the lone adult’s relationship to the child and the legal right to travel in and out of the country with that child. In addition to the child’s valid United States passport, and entry visa where required, a letter of permission from the absent parent(s) signed before a notary public is needed. The letter should include a statement of authorization for the child to travel, details of the trip and legal names and contact information for the child and accompanying adult.
Children Flying Solo – Most airlines offer fee-based Unaccompanied Minor programs that facilitate air travel for children without an accompanying adult. These programs, which vary, provide an affordable travel option to link geographically separated family members with the children they treasure. Airline Unaccompanied Minor programs, policies and procedures vary.
Child Medical Care Authorization – When a child is traveling without a parent, receiving emergency medical care could be complicated or refused, unless the emergency is deemed life-threatening. The adult accompanying the child should carry a medical proxy, an original notarized letter from the non-traveling parent(s) granting permission to authorize emergency medical care for the child. The letter should include the permission statement, child’s health insurance information, social security number and full legal names of the child and accompanying adults.