Preparing for International Travel
Taking the family overseas on holiday requires a fair bit of planning to ensure a smooth and safe trip. Check that you have done the following before you go.
Passports & Permits
A passport is required to travel to all countries, including Australia. Check that your passports are still valid. Many countries require a passport to be valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry to that country. If your passport is damaged, defaced or excessively worn your passport may not be valid for travel.
Don't leave it to the last minute to get a new passport if you need one as getting a passport can take up to 10 working days using the standard service. If you are travelling to or through the USA you will need a machine-readable passport.
All children (under 16 years) and babies are required to travel on their own passport. Consent of at least one parent (named on the child's birth registration) or one guardian, (name on the guardianship documentation), is required. However, the Care of Children Act 2004 requires that, where practicable, all the guardians of a child must be consulted. The parent or guardian making the application for the child is responsible for consulting with the other parent or guardians of the child.
For more information regarding the lodging of an application for a passport for your child, go to the Department of Internal Affairs. Customs and immigration officers in most countries are always looking for missing children. You may need to prove that you are the lawful parent or guardian of your child and, in the absence of one parent, it's wise to bring a document that states you have permission to travel with your child. Also carry copies of any decree of divorce or separation or custody agreement that proves you have legal custody of your child..
Ensure that you have the necessary visas for your travel destination. Contact the nearest Embassy of the country you will be travelling to or ask your travel agent..
If you are intending to drive at your destination, check if you will need an International Driving Permit.
Ensure you have health and travel insurance and that it also covers your children. Register your travel details with MFAT. This is advisable so that in the event of terrorism, natural disaster or even a family emergency at home, you can be contacted and accounted for. Take note of this number - you can use it in an emergency from anywhere in the world.
Ensure you have had any recommended vaccinations or immunisations. Your local health professional will be able to advise you on this. Plan these well in advance to lessen the chances of side effects affecting your travel plans.
If you are travelling to a country that can be deemed risky check the latest advisory from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). This will tell you the level of risk at your destination and whether tourist and non-essential travel is advised.
If you’re travelling with a baby, it’s a good idea to research the availability of baby products in your country of destination before travelling. Stock up on nappies and other essential products if necessary. Also consider how best to secure your belongings while travelling - you may be more vulnerable to thieves and pickpockets if you don't have a hand free.
If your child will need to take prescription or non-prescription medicine while you travel, make sure that you take enough to cover the length of your trip as you may find that the medication you need isn’t available. Make sure that you check with the embassy or consulate of your destination country that the drugs you propose to bring into the country are legal. As an extra safety measure, you should carry a letter from your doctor giving the generic name of any drugs you will be carrying, along with a statement that they are for personal use only.
If you’re planning to use childcare facilities overseas, or use a babysitter or nanny, be sure that you satisfy yourself about the standard of care..
You should consider:
- the qualifications of the staff caring for children
- the ratios of staff to children
- the safety of the facilities provided
- the hiring and screening procedures for staff
- training of staff in first aid and emergency procedures
- personal liability insurance and the accreditation standards of childcare providers
Common Sense Advice. Share your experiences, tips and advice on the Kidspot Forum. This article was written by Ella Walsh and Julie Scanlon for Kidspot. Sources include The Department of Internal Affairs (NZ) and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.