Couples sacrifice a lot when they decide to begin a family. It means fewer nights out and budgeting money to be spent on their children's food, clothing, and education instead. A lot of things go by the way-side when you start a family — getting a full 8 hours of sleep a night, having alone time, etc. Traveling doesn’t have to be one of those sacrifices. In fact, traveling with kids has been an unexpected pleasure for my family.
My experience traveling with children
When my wife and I had our first child in 2007, we wanted to take her with us to visit our family in the United States and around the world. However, we initially feared traveling with an infant would be an arduous task that would make us reconsider our future travel plans.
Instead, we have great memories of our first overseas trip. On a transatlantic flight, we felt victorious as we put her to bed in a basinet on the bulkhead, and then watched a movie together. On a stopover in Germany, we took her in a stroller to downtown Frankfurt and marveled at how much fun international family travel could actually be.
This turned out to be the first of many overseas trips with her, and then her younger sister, born in 2012. Our destinations have included Israel, Argentina, Hawaii, and Italy (twice!). This year, our nine month old son will join our two daughters, now nine and four years old, for another trip to visit family in Israel during winter break. We're confident our new little guy will do great on his first foreign trip, as he's already been on three domestic trips, including a Hawaiian vacation.
Tips for traveling around the world with children
1. Get your passports in order.
A passport is not just a travel document, it's a symbol of a life of travel that you can aspire to. We were always thrilled to bring our children in for their first passport photos, before submitting the application. The toughest question on the forms asks for your child's "occupation." We laughed the first time we saw that, and fought the urge to make a cheeky joke like "filling up diapers," sticking with "student" instead and never had a problem.
By getting your child's passport in early, you'll always be prepared when the right opportunity presents itself. Just remember that you will need to apply for a new passport for your children every 5 years before their 16th birthday. Also note many countries require your passport be valid for six months following arrival.
2. Plan your trip around your children.
Just because you can travel overseas with your children, it doesn't mean travel will be the same as before. When we plan a trip overseas, we always include activities that we know our kids will love. For example, in Italy, we stayed on farms where they could see the animals, and we visited a dairy where they got to see how parmesan cheese is made. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, we visited a children's museum. And in Hawaii, you can never go wrong on a beach, or just playing in the pool.
3. Don't stress out about the journey.
My favorite memories from my childhood were of our family vacations. And maybe we're just lucky, but our kids love to travel as well. As parents, we might dread a 10 hour flight, but often that's what our kids enjoy the most. Just remember that a cramped seat in economy class feels like first class when you're a kid.
Nevertheless, you still want to bring their favorite toys and games. And these days, you can also find an inexpensive tablet that can provide hours of entertainment en-route. And be sure to contact the airline in advance to request a special children's meal.
4. Make the most of your credit card rewards.
The biggest downside to international family travel is always the costs. Up until your child turns two, he or she can travel on your lap with most airlines for 10% of the price of a ticket. But when a couple travels with two children over the age of two, there's no way around paying twice as much for airfare as you did before.
This is why earning travel rewards from your credit card is even more crucial to families than it is to everyone else. Right now, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is offering new applicants 50,000 bonus miles, enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit after they spend $3,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening.
Fear of the unknown keeps too many parents from traveling overseas with their kids, but I think that they're missing out. When you plan the right trip for children, and try to see the world through their eyes, you will be surprised by how much fun everyone has.
*All content provided in this blog is supplied by Jason Steele and is for informational purposes only. Barclaycard makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
Photo credit: iStock
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