Infant international travel involves doing your homework before you even buy your airline tickets. Being prepared will make traveling internationally with your infant a bit easier.
To Stay or Go
For some parents, the thought of infant international travel brings shudders and grimaces. Why bother? It's easier to stay at home, right? Well, sometimes fate or circumstances deem it necessary to hop on board and fly across the continents with an infant in tow.
While the situation may not always be ideal, you and your infant can enjoy traveling abroad. In fact, if you are a travel junkie, there isn't any reason why you can't introduce your baby to this love as well.
Things To Know
Before you make that first travel reservation, however, there are a few important points that you should know:
Your baby may be small, but he'll still need a passport to travel internationally. Because the process can take six weeks or more, it's important that you apply for your infant's passport as soon as you know you'll be traveling. For an extra fee, you may be able to get the passport in as little as two weeks, however.
- Where do I apply? You can typically apply at your local courthouse. You may also be able to apply at a local post office, library, or municipal building. Applications can be found online as well.
- How much does it cost? The application fee is typically around $40 for children and babies.
- What is needed? Besides a completed application and application fee, you'll need to submit two professional passport photos. If you plan on using a passport photo center, be sure and inform them that you'll need photos of your infant, so they can be ready to accommodate.
- Anything else I need to remember? You'll need to provide two forms of identification for your baby. Since all you may have for your baby is a birth certificate, you can provide that and then you may show two forms of a valid ID for you so that you can vouch for the child.
- I've received it, now what? Sign the passport immediately by printing the infant's name and signing your own. Put your relationship to the child in parenthesis beside the signature.
One final note on passports: You may need a tourist visa, so check with the U.S. Department of State on foreign entry requirements.
Make your reservations as soon as possible. Try to work with your child's schedule if possible, scheduling flights around nap times or even choosing red-eye flights so that he'll sleep through most of the travel time. Other tips for making reservations include the following:
- Travel during off-peak hours for less crowded flights.
- Book non-stop flights if possible to avoid layovers.
- Ask for bulkhead seating for more leg room.
- Ask for a removable bassinet that can sometimes be found in longer flights.
- Check with your airlines' requirements regarding the use of car seats.
- Book a separate seat for your baby to give yourself additional room.
- Consider boarding first or last.
You may think that infant international travel involves packing everything but the kitchen sink, and it certainly feels like that. Depending upon the length of your travel, you'll have to pack a supply of diapers, baby food, and other baby necessities. Plan on the following:
- Diapers. Pack at least one per hour.
- Receiving blankets. Flights can be cold or hot, so be prepared.
- Bottles. Sippy cups, juice, or formula may also be a good idea.
- Snacks. Cheerios or other baby snacks work perfectly.
- Toys. Pack a few new ones to pull out one at a time.
- Plastic baggies. These are great for storing dirty clothes and blankets.
- Change of clothes. Plan for at least two changes of clothing in a diaper bag for those little mishaps.
- Formula. If you give your baby formula, consider bringing premixed. Some countries' water supplies may be risky at best when mixing formula.
Immunizations are so very important for your baby, regardless of whether you are leaving the country. However, ensuring your baby is up-to-date on his shots means you are providing him with as much protection as possible as he enters foreign soil. Remember, your child may not have developed a natural immunity to diseases that are more prevalent in other countries. Check with your pediatrician about your child's immunization record before embarking on your journey.
Additional Information on Infant International Travel
For more information on traveling internationally with your baby, contact the airlines and your pediatrician. You can also check out the following Websites for additional resources and tips:
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Continental Airlines
- Smarter Travel