By Danielle Spano
Traveling internationally requires more planning than a domestic trip. Between passports and packing, there is a lot to prepare for. Adding a baby to the equation of course makes the trip more fun, but also more complicated and of course more fun. Here are some tips to help you get ready for takeoff.
Luggage weight restrictions keep you from packing everything, but we all know that traveling with children requires a lot of, well, baggage. First, check the weather for where you will be traveling and pack appropriate clothing. Since infants tend to need extra outfits to accommodate for spills, plan your own attire using multi-purpose pieces to leave space in your suitcase for extra kiddie clothes. When packing necessities for your child, think of it as a super-sized diaper bag — include more than enough bottles, pacifiers, diapers, wipes and creams to last the duration of your trip, as availability may be inconvenient and costly at your destination. Be sure to include childproofing gear for your hotel accommodations. Pack medications in your carry-on to ensure you have them on hand in the case of lost luggage and bring prescriptions in their original bottles. You should also take a thermometer and children’s pain reliever, anti-diarrheal and allergy products.
Well before you start packing, consult with your pediatrician. Some foreign countries require proof of certain vaccinations before you can enter. The World Health Organization recommends visiting your pediatrician four to eight weeks prior to your trip, as some vaccinations may require multiple doses and others, like Yellow and Typhoid Fever, may not be readily available at your doctor’s office. There are three types of vaccinations for travelers: those that are recommended to protect against diseases endemic to the country you are traveling, those required by the country you are visiting and those part of most national childhood immunization programs. Not all vaccinations are appropriate for every age, so it is important to check the US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization for suggested vaccinations. Discuss those recommendations with your pediatrician to formulate a treatment plan appropriate for your child’s age as well as the requirements and risks of the destination you are visiting. “Make sure your child is up-to-date on all their vaccines,” Dr. Kathy Sarantos of Alliance Pediatrics said. “Treatment for infants may be different, and some may also require oral treatment upon your return.” The CDC lists diarrhea as the most common illness among traveling children. This can cause serious dehydration in young children and infants. Dr. Sarantos recommends drinking bottled water and eating at reputable restaurants as well as wearing insect repellant and avoiding interaction with unknown animals to protect your family from other illness and disease.
Check your passports! While some airlines do not require tickets for infants, a passport will be required for international travel. If both parents are not traveling, be sure to bring along a consent letter from the other parent. U.S. Customs and Border Protection recommends a simple notarized note stating that the other parent gave his/her permission for the child to be taken on the trip. Check the minimum age requirement that your airline requires for traveling infants. Some airlines have bassinets/travel cots available on a first come, first served basis, so book your flight early and request one immediately! At the airport, allow for extra time to get through security to screen your children, strollers, toys and carriers. Notify the TSA officer of any breast milk, formula or juice you are carrying (allowed in reasonable quantities). Bring toys, snacks, and anything that will keep your little one occupied and amused on the long flight. To prepare for the inevitable, you might consider packing goody bags to thank your fellow plane-mates for their patience with your new jetsetter — include ear plugs for a nice touch! Last but not least, relax; calm is contagious!