10+ Tips for International Travel with Kids


Family travel can be a lot of fun if you are prepared! Traveling internationally requires even more preparation, between extra documentation, regulation, and discovering another culture and language…

GoWhee App families know first hands what it takes to plan a vacation abroad and they shared the best tips for international travel with kids.

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Family in Germany. Photo by @Gowheeapp

1. Buy a Car Seat

If you’re planning on renting a car on your international family trip and you have a child or children who need a car seat, it can be worth it to actually buy a car seat when you arrive at your destination. Norms and safety standards differ from country to country, and when you use the seats that come with some rental cars, you don’t know the seat’s history. 

This can be a huge safety issue! If you bring your car seat from home, you will have to check it and risk loss or damage, which also creates a safety issue. Instead, a Gowhee mom recommends sending one adult and the older kids to pick up the rental car and buy the car seat at a local store and come back to the airport to pick up the rest of the family members.

If your child is a little older and can be placed in a booster seat. Look for lightweight booster seat options like the Bumble Bum car seat

10 Tips for International Travel with Kids

2. Get Out on Day 1 To Stave Off Jet Lag

When you move through several time zones, jet lag can be a real bummer. To avoid the worst effects of jet lag, try to book a flight that arrives during day time and then get out, and do things with kids until it gets dark in the new time zone. Your body’s circadian rhythm adjusts more easily to a natural day/night light cycle. 

Staying hydrated can also help– an excursion to a cafe might be just the thing to keep everybody energized! If you must take a nap, try to limit the nap to twenty minutes to half an hour. That way you’ll get a little bit of refreshing energy but your body won’t think it’s time to get a full night’s sleep.

>>> Find tons of quiet coffee shops, restaurants etc… to allow your kids to nap by using the “quiet” filter on the Gowhee app, here.

child sleeping.
Short day naps. Photo by @MichaelSchaffler

3. Triple Check Passport Validity Dates

Check, check, and check again when your passport and your child’s passport expire. Some countries won’t let you in if your passport expires within six months of travel. It can take months to get a passport renewed, so make sure that you won’t have any ugly surprises on your international family trip by making sure you know when your passports expire.

4. Look Up Visa Requirements Ahead of Time

Many countries require a visa for international trips, even if you’re just visiting as a tourist. These can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to get, so find out what visas you’ll need while you’re planning your travel and file for them immediately.

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5. Bring a Notary Authorization

If your party doesn’t include both parents, make sure you have a notary authorization, also called a letter of consent, from the other parent to travel with the child. This is especially important for blended families. It is advisable that all legal guardians sign this document and that it’s notarized so that customs authorities easily accept it.

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7. Travel Light To Let Kids Participate

Traveling light makes traveling with kids so much easier. Young kids pre-school age and up can be in charge of their own bag if you travel light. Create packing lists for each person and stick to them– don’t feel tempted to bring a million extra things “just in case.” Plan for emergencies in the initial packing lists to help with peace of mind and cut down on extra baggage. Use packing cubes and capsule wardrobes with interchangeable outfit parts to reduce the amount of luggage you need.

And don’t worry about packing too many toys. While you should definitely bring your children’s comfort objects to make bedtime easier, kids really do play best with their environment and don’t need their whole toybox on a trip. A couple of small toys or an activity book to keep them entertained while waiting is usually enough.

>>> Find Airbnb ad other accommodations with toys and kids amenities, here.

Airbnb with toys
Airbnb in Lisbon with toy area. Photo by @gowheeapp

6. Use the Family Line at Airport Security

Find out if there is a family line in airport security to go faster and without stress. Some airports have a specific family/priority line which allows you to move faster and be surrounded by understanding passengers. If you’re leaving from the United States, the TSA has an app (MyTSA) that lets you check security wait times in advance so that you can find the quickest line. 

You should also be aware that liquid limits for breast milk, formula, and juice for young children are not the same as liquid limits for other liquids. While most liquids are limited to 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters, there are no limits for breast milk, formula, or juice for young children. You can also bring gel or liquid-filled teethers and all baby food through security in your carry-on luggage, even on international flights. 

7. Invest in a Travel Stroller

An important part of traveling with young children is having the right stroller. When you’re traveling abroad, don’t bring your normal stroller. Instead, look for a travel stroller that is compact like this one. Gigantic jogger strollers might be great for your daily activities, but they’re difficult to park and take up a ton of room. 

You also want a stroller that can handle all kinds of terrain, from cobblestone streets to the rough trails you might find in a national park. A small, umbrella-style stroller is easy to gate check or even store in the overhead compartment, which makes it easier to keep kids happy and sleeping during any wait or layover times. Finally, having a dedicated travel stroller means that you don’t risk the damage or loss of your kids’ regular stroller. 

>>> Find tons of parks and places to go for a stroll at your destination, here.

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9. Arrive Early & Use Priority Boarding

Don’t get to your airplane’s gate at the last minute, especially for international flights. Instead, make sure to show up early and use your airline’s priority boarding time for kids under 5. This allows you to settle and get your kids comfortable before takeoff. Getting to your gate early also means fewer worries for you, which means less stress for the travel portion of your family vacation.

Families also recommend using the bathroom near your gate, before boarding. It is the perfect time to change the diaper, put on comfy clothes, and clean up.

10. Bring a Change of Clothes Everywhere

Wherever you go on your family vacation, bring a change of clothes for everyone in your day bag. You might be far from your accommodations and need to freshen up. Sometimes little kids can make big messes, and so having a change of clothes can mean the difference between an uncomfortable, fussy child and a clean, happy child. Pack a fresh outfit for everyone in a large, sealable plastic bag. If anyone has to change, you can put the dirty clothes in the bag to keep the rest of the items in your main bag dry and clean.

Bonus Tip: Use the Gowhee App

The Gowhee App is super helpful to find places anywhere in the world, for the whole family to have fun. There are over 18 categories, from hotels and restaurants to playgrounds and museums.

Since all places are reviewed by parents, it helps to deal with last-minute needs, for instance, if you need to find a restaurant with a bathroom with a changing table. (not always obvious in Europe), Gowhee has that kind of information.

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