A few years back I travelled alone with my daughter to Disney World and learned a few things about travelling with kids along the way. Being prepared is the best way to ensure that everything will go well and that you will have an amazing time. We came back from that trip with 9,000 pictures (not kidding!) and memories to fill a lifetime.
Here are a few of the basics you absolutely need to know:
Paperwork is important
When it comes to passports and paperwork, make sure all your ducks are in a row.
All Canadians from birth to death must have their own passport to travel outside the country. Don’t make the mistake of signing the passport for your child. Signing for your child will null the password and you will need to replace it. Children aren’t required to sign, but it is strongly encouraged to do so from the age of 11 and up.
If you are travelling alone with your child, I cannot stress enough that you should have a Child Travel Consent letter signed by the father/mother who isn’t travelling approving the trip.The letter demonstrates that Canadian children have permission to travel abroad from parents or guardians who are not accompanying them. A consent letter is not a legal requirement in Canada, but I have seen friends who were denied travel because they didn’t have it. If having the document can simplify travel for Canadian children, as it may be requested by immigration authorities when entering or leaving a foreign country or by Canadian officials when re-entering Canada, why not get it? Seriously, the key to a good trip with kids is to be prepared for all scenarios. I had mine witnessed by a lawyer, that way if there are any issues, the immigration authorities will have to deal with the lawyer.
Preselect your seat and make sure that your child is seated next to you. You would assume that a minor would automatically be seated next to you, but they aren’t. You are responsible for pre-reserving seats that are together.
I also found that being near a window helps the child feel comfortable in the tight place.
One thing that took me by surprise was the landing. I already know that earaches were more common in children than adults. I also knew that chewing gum and swallowing frequently helped. It worked for me the first time I took a plane. So we were ready or so I thought. My daughter started crying visibly in pain. She said her hears were hurting and soon the tears were screams. We tried to do all the tricks we had read about. Nothing worked. Her hears blocked and she couldn’t hear when we landed. It took 2 days for everything to completely come back to normal. I was terrified at first that the damage could be permanent, but it wasn’t.
The pain didn’t have bad on the trip home, but she is still scared to fly. The pain was too intense.