The big day is almost here! If you’ve been following my posts on “traveling with baby,” you’ll know that we’re headed to the Bahamas (in two days!!) for my sister’s wedding. This will be Annabelle’s second plane flight, Lilu’s first, and only my second trip out of the country, so it’s a pretty big deal.
A little over a month ago, Annabelle accompanied my mom and I to visit family in our home state of West Virginia. Annabelle’s first plane flight went incredibly well, so I published My Top Five Essentials for Stress-Free Airplane Travel with a Baby to share what we did (and packed) to ensure a smooth trip.
International travel is a little more complicated, so I thought I would add to the previous list a few extra preparations you might want to take when leaving the country (for both the kids and grown-ups!)
1. Apply For Your Passports EARLY! I cannot emphasize this enough! Currently, the estimated time for standard processing is 4-6 weeks. However, if that’s all the time you give yourself, any little hiccup could cause a big headache! Hubby simply needed to renew his existing passport, however, his photo was rejected and we had to retake and mail a new one at the last minute. We were also asked for extra documentation for Lilu’s application, and didn’t receive her passport until just a few days ago (and we applied almost 3 months in advance!) What if we had waited until 6 weeks before our trip? We might be making lots of phone calls or an emergency visit to the passport center today! Don’t risk it– apply as soon as you know you’re traveling and sign up for email status updates so you can make any necessary changes ASAP and keep the application process moving along.
2. Ask your family doctor about any required and/or recommended vaccinations. The Bahamas don’t require anything out of the ordinary for adults or older children. However, Annabelle did have to go ahead and get her Measles vaccine a little early, as that one IS strongly recommended before travel to pretty much any foreign country.
3. Find out about communication options where you’re going. Will your cell phone work in another country? Maybe, but if it does you’ll likely pay a HUGE minute by minute rate. We’re staying on a small, fairly remote island (not the main island), so I’m counting on NOT being able to use my cell phone, but the resort’s bar/restaurant does have wifi, so we can reach the outside world. Our entire family will be there, but in normal circumstances, it’s a good idea to designate an emergency contact. A couple easy and affordable options are phone cards or services like Skype which allow you to talk over the internet.
4. Start a packing list a couple weeks before you depart. When traveling solo, I don’t always do this, but I just can’t chance leaving behind anything when traveling with a family of four to a remote island which may not have what we need easily accessible in stores. I started a list last week that sits on the kitchen counter so I can add items as I think of them and cross them off when they’re safely packed.
5. If your child has to miss school, advise their teacher in advance. For this trip, Lilu will be absent a couple days, so we made sure to let her teacher know in case there was anything important going on. As we suspected, she’s not missing much in first grade, but an older child might have projects or testing, and it would be much easier to turn assignments in early or schedule make-up dates beforehand. Plus their teacher would likely appreciate the heads up.
Getting ready to travel with kids is stressful, but international trips are even more so! Hopefully, these precautions and preparations can help minimize that stress, so you can focus on what’s really important– fun and relaxation with the family!
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