Like international couples, my wife and I travel abroad frequently, often to spend time with family and friends. For expats, traveling is like brushing your teeth, something you do on autopilot without giving it much thought. Well, at least that was the case before you had kids. Now this has become something far more challenging.
Our travels have become more challenging since the birth of our first child eight years ago. The kids need passports to travel and because they have two nationalities this means that they have two passports which makes things a bit more complicated. We need to keep track of expiration dates and manage them throughout the trip. Also kids pay full fare as soon as they turn two so the cost of traveling jumps up, but you do get to travel without a baby on your lap and are entitled to an additional suitcase, which means you get to bring some of your own clothes too – which is not bad. When traveling with children, you also worry about the liquids in your carry-on. Between baby bottles, lotions and medicine, it’s hard to remember everything you are carrying and although security officers tend to be lenient when it comes to kids, I have heard some pretty horrifying stories on the topic. So keep essentials safely packed within the 100mL limit and be ready to dump other liquid items if the officer is not indulgent.
Expat tips for traveling moms & dads:
- Gift-wrap five or six small toys, like Kinder surprises, which you will award to the kids throughout the trip when they behave. This will keep them entertained and give them something to look forward to during the long waits.
- Have them carry their own bag. It will make them feel grown-up and autonomous. It will reduce the number of times they ask you for snacks, teddy bears and toys.
- Include a change of clothes for you and your kids in your carry-ons. During my last trip, my daughter fell asleep on my lap while holding a chocolate Santa. You can imagine what our clothes looked like a few hours into her nap.
- Most airlines offer kid’s meals. Although some airlines have a confused idea as to what this means considering kids don’t always seem to like it, you will certainly appreciate the fact that they are served before everyone else.
When it comes to traveling with kids there are two kinds of travelers. There are those that constantly worry about the well-being of the child, like my wife. Then there are those, like myself, worried about the annoyance of their child on the surrounding passengers. And then there are the relaxed and confident parents who do not worry or suffer any kind of stress when they travel. You know they exist, just like a four-leaf-clover, most people have simply never seen one in real life.