Thinking of long term travel with your family on your Career break or Sabbatical leave? Before the kids; when you wanted to travel all you had to do was book the ticket, throw your shorts and sandals in a back pack and you were off on your wild adventures, able to be blown wherever the wind took you without a care or fear in the world.
But now you have children. Kids mean responsibilities and a never ending constant fear that something bad may happen. You want to go long term travelling with your kids on your Career break or Sabbatical so they can experience the vibrancy of other cultures, smell the wind on the desert and create memories that will never be forgotten, but at the same time you want them wrapped up in cotton wool to ensure nothing bad will happen to the most precious things in your life.
The best way to protect your loved ones while at the same time having fantastic life experiences and creating unforgettable memories is to plan. From your child’s education and enjoyment to health concerns like mosquito bites and stomach viruses, the best way to quash your fears is to plan well for long term gap year travel with children.
Top 10 Tips for long term Travelling with family & Kids on your Career Break
1: Countries Risk Ratings
It sounds like common sense, but make sure you take the time to look at the counties risk ratings. If you search online you will find numerous up-to-date registers. Keep an eye on these as they do change.
2: Plan Activities in Advance
Any savvy traveller knows that packing, travel arrangements and other factors need to be planned in advance, but other than that a lot of people just wing it. This should not be the case when travelling with your family. Plan your activities and events in advance, creating an itinerary that takes things more slowly and ensures there is plenty of time for fun and rest. Try to avoid constantly and instead give your children time to settle down in a place for a bit. This way you can keep to routines like bedtime stories and they get to know people. Remember your kids are individuals and do not see the world like you. Don’t be disappointed if they find a tree made of fake sweets in Singapore far more interesting than a relaxing peaceful night surrounded by the natural beauty of the breath taking Halong Bay.
3: Know the Laws and Regulations
Read up on another nation’s laws and regulations on travelling with kids. Things tend to get a bit more dire when entire families are held in a government office due to something you were not supposed to bring across the border or you haven’t got the right visa to enter the country. So researching different government regulations is a wise thing to do.
You may need to take extra documentation regarding your children. If you are the only parent travelling with your kids, make sure that you take proof of consent that the other parent has consented to the kid travelling. If the child’s name on the passport is not the same as yours, or the child doesn’t look like you, you may encounter problems, especially in countries where child adoption and child trafficking is common. The very documentation that you should take is the birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable) and a letter of consent from the other parent if travelling on your own. If the other parent is deceased, you should take proof of this. This may seem a bit over the top, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Remember that if you are asked for these things, don’t be angry at the hassle it is causing you, but view it as a positive thing that these people or governments care about the issue of child trafficking.
4: Think Educational
Make sure that the trip you are taking is educational for your kids and as a family in general. If you are travelling for more than a holiday and are planning to stay for an extended gap year, then think about your child’s education going forward; i.e. homeschooling, tutors, private schools, etc. Have a look at the Home Education Advisory Service (HEAS). HEAS are a ‘national home education charity’ that provide advice and support for families wanting to educate their children out of school. Also check out ‘Educationotherwise’, who provide information and resources for home education.
5: Be Aware of Health Risks
Some of the world’s most beautiful places can present a risk. Foreign diseases from insect bites, harsh weather, and other circumstances may cause you or someone in your family to fall ill. Be aware of potential health risks and speak to a travel clinic to plan inoculations at least two months in advance. Some inoculations take multiple visits e.g. Rabies, therefore you need to plan. While away, also remember the importance of hygiene when eating and drinking as this can prevent a lot of stomach bugs. If you can’t drink the tap water make sure you drink bottled water or boil or sterilize the water. Keep bottles of water next to the sink to remind them.
6: Take Stock of what You Bring
Beyond the essentials that you are going to bring on any trip, you should put some extra thought into exactly what you are bringing when travelling with your entire family. Any types of medications, learning materials, and other must-haves should make the trip with you. What is also very important is that you make space and weight allowance for a few of you children’s favourite things. Having a few of their favourite toys or games will help to reduce stress when travelling.
7: Sun Blockers
Children’s skin can be far more sensitive to the sun than adults and you so make sure you always have a good factor sunblock. The last thing you want is your child on a drip in hospital because they are sunburnt and dehydrated. Carry a hat and pack lightweight breathable clothing that covers the skin and protects it from the sun in the day and will help protect from mosquitos in the evening. Remember children also get colder than adults therefore ensure they have layers they can put on and pull off.
8. Always carry water.
Always ensure your child is hydrated. Children tend not to drink unless they are thirsty, therefore make sure they are drinking enough water. Check the colour of their urine from time to time, and teach them that darker, cloudy or strong smelling urine means they need to drink more.
9: Do Not Forget the Discounts
There is no reason at all to pay a hefty price for a trip if you do not have to. When booking, ask about family discounts on planes, trains and buses. Try looking online for some different discounts. There are many voucher sites operating online which all offer family-based discounts.
10: Expect a Few Issues
You are most likely going to run into a few issues when travelling with your family, from some minor illness and disgruntled children to losing luggage and your money. Remember that in difficult situations you need to remain calm so your kids don’t know how stressful everything is. They can’t take comfort in familiar surroundings therefore they need to take comfort in that no-matter what happens, everything is going to be OK.
Bonus Tip: Remember to Enjoy the Trip
Above all, remember to have a fantastic time on your trip. Soak up every moment and create those lasting memories by shooting plenty of photos and videos. Try new and exciting things while travelling, and ultimately put more focus on activities than on where you are staying or the class of flight you are taking.
There are many different things you have to focus on when travelling with your family. This type of adventure with the ones you love the most is truly priceless; so do not take it for granted. Prepare the right way and heed the above tips.
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