Are We There Yet? Travel Tips When Travelling With Children

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Disney World. Yosemite. Yellowstone. Grand Canyon. Myrtle Beach. New England. There’s a big playground out there, just waiting to be explored.

Once school’s out for the summer, is a visit to our neighbour’s to the south on the agenda? If you’ll be taking a trip with the children this summer, there’s often more than just passports, travel insurance, itineraries, and car and hotel bookings to be planned.

  • Everyone, including newborns, infants, children and teens, needs a passport if flying. If driving, the usual rules apply for adults; but for children without a passport, a Canadian birth certificate or citizenship card will also be accepted.

Details about child passports and child passport applications can be found at Passport Canada.

Did you know that if flying, Canadian Aviation Regulations require that infants (under the age of two) cannot outnumber the adults?

  • If it’s a Dad or Mom-only trip with the kids, the solo parent will have to be ready to show that the other parent has consented to the out-of-country travel with the children. A travel consent letter will go a long way when looking to enter the U.S. or return to Canada.

The Government of Canada makes it easy with a sample travel consent letter.

  • Schedule a visit with the family doctor about 6 weeks prior to the holiday to discuss your travel plans; your family doctor may want to adjust your children’s routine vaccine schedule and may be able to offer guidance on how to best handle jet lag, motion sickness or other common ailments that affect children while travelling.
  • Pack a travel health kit that can help with the minor bumps, scrapes, bites and stings that are bound to happen (and you know they will).
  • Each member of your family needs travel insurance. "Your Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside Canada," states the Government of Canada’s website. The good news here is that some travel insurance providers offer a family rate for emergency medical health insurance, meaning even though everyone—including the children—is covered, the premium is only based on the adults travelling with them.
  • Be ready for little ones who might experience travel-related stress. Travel security, border agents, airplanes, hotel rooms and rental cars: the unknown can be stressful for even the most seasoned travellers, so be prepared with some favourite toys, books and snacks.

Learn more about why travel security and border agents make you do what they do (remove shoes and more.)

  • Bring your own age and weight-appropriate car or booster seats; properly fitted seats may not be readily available.

Travelling with children can be a delight and a challenge; and while you can’t prepare for absolutely everything, you can take steps to make sure you’ll get where you want to go, relatively stress-free.