Taking your children around the world is exciting. You can teach them about different cultures, and spend some relaxing quality time with them. Of course, traveling internationally also means they’ll have a fun spring, summer or winter break from school.
As a parent of young children, you know that while travel is meant to be enjoyable, sometimes it can also be stressful. But by planning ahead and making sure you consider anything that could go wrong, you will be able to have a successful and meaningful vacation you’ll remember for years to come.
One of the most popular travel destinations for families in the United States is Mexico. It offers beautiful scenery, affordable prices in many places and is a very short trip away from many major U.S. cities. Before you and your young children head to Mexico, here are some travel tips to keep in mind.
Look up Vaccinations and Health Precautions
Before going anywhere, especially with children under the age of 18, you need to look up any vaccinations you’ll need to get and health issues that may be occurring at your destination. For example, young children need to have their MMR, polio and chicken pox vaccines – as well as other routine vaccines recommended by their pediatrician – prior to boarding the plane to Mexico. Some areas are also prone to malaria and rabies, so you’ll need to check the CDC’s website and ask your pediatrician for more information.
In terms of eating and drinking in Mexico, you and your young children should avoid drinking tap water and only drink bottled water, steer clear of street vendor food and unpeeled/unwashed raw fruits and veggies and only eat food that is prepared and served hot.
Consider an All-Inclusive Resort
While you’d probably love to do a DIY trip and show your children as much of Mexico as possible, you might want to put that off until they’re older. Renting a car, figuring out where to eat, knowing where to tour and learning which areas are safe to venture into can end up being a much bigger headache than simply going to an all-inclusive resort. There are so many children-friendly resorts complete with all-day activities and fun kids’ food, which will make traveling with your little ones a pleasure instead of a hassle. Just check out TripAdvisor for some recommendations for the best all-inclusive, family-friendly resorts in Mexico.
Get Permission From Your Co-Parent
If you are divorced and share custody with your ex, you’re going to need permission from your ex in order to travel internationally with your children. You have to provide written intent to your ex at least three weeks before you travel, and include things like where you’re going, what airline you’re traveling on, when the departure is, where you’re staying and when you’re returning.
In addition, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, if a child is not accompanied by both parents, “the child must have a notarized letter from the other parent or signed by both parents stating, ‘I acknowledge that my son/daughter is traveling outside the country with [the name of the adult]with my permission.’”
Note that your ex has the right to withhold your request to travel with your minor children if they believe that you’re traveling to a dangerous area or if the weather poses a danger. Making sure you get the paperwork in as soon as possible and checking for any travel advisories is going to save you a lot of time and energy, and ensure that you’ll get the permission you need to take your family on vacation.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Traveling internationally with young children anywhere is going to require a lot more preparation than traveling on your own. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place and to create to-do lists so that your trip goes as smoothly as possible. In terms of going to Mexico, make sure your to-do list includes the following:
- Securing a passport for your child
- Packing sunscreen, floaties, a beach bag, swim shoes, an underwater camera and water toys, or figuring out if your hotel sells them
- Bringing entertainment, such as an iPad, for the plane ride for your children
- Putting any prescription medication or medicine you can’t find over the counter in your bag, and including food poisoning medicine, a sea band for motion sickness and sunburn relief
- Buying mosquito-repelling wristbands
- Purchasing travel insurance
- Plan to be able to use your phone or to have internet service
- Make sure you know where the US Embassy is and the phone number
Making Your Trip to Mexico Memorable
While it’s natural to think about the stress a trip may cause, remember that this is a once in a lifetime bonding experience you can have with your children. As long as you give yourself plenty of time to get everything in order for your trip, and you do your due diligence when it comes to traveling to Mexico, you’ll have a wonderful time with your family.