- Begin the passport application process early.
- Know airline seating standards.
- Plan your packing list to include proper necessities and conveniences.
- Consult with a Travel Health Specialist for health recommendations and vaccinations.
Traveling internationally with an infant requires careful planning in advance of your departure. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 2 million children travel internationally every year. Attention to detail prior to departure will allow you and your family to enjoy a successful and healthy trip abroad.
1. Applying for a Passport
Children of all ages are required to have a U.S. passport in order to travel abroad, but, remember, it can take as long as six weeks to receive this documentation. Therefore, it is advised that parents begin the application process well in advance of an international trip. A passport for an infant can be obtained without a social security number. In such instances, an official copy of the child’s birth certificate will prove to be sufficient.
When applying for an infant passport, the child must be present along with both parents. If one parent is unavailable, additional documentation may be required, such as a notarized statement from the absentee parent, custody decree, or death certificate. The application process can be accelerated by downloading the application document online before visiting an authorized passport application center. Finally, investigate the visa and passport requirements for your destination in order to avoid any surprises along the way.
2. Airline Seating Standards
An FAA-approved car or infant seat will be required for any child that will be occupying a seat rather than sitting on the lap of a parent. Approved safety devices can be secured by using an airline seat belt, and be sure to follow all seating guidelines.
3. Supply Checklist
There are a number of items that anyone traveling with an infant will want to pack for the trip. Here are a few necessities and conveniences that will make international travel safer and easier for your family:
- Purchase an electrical converter unit for use in hotels.
- There is a good deal of concern about children being transported illegally across international borders. In the event that a child is traveling with one parent only, it’s wise to carry custody documents or a notarized permission statement signed by the absentee parent.
- Take care to pack vital travel supplies, including items such as sunscreen, insect repellent, a water purification kit, and bug netting for the stroller.
- Determine whether your existing health insurance will provide reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses incurred abroad. If not, consider purchasing a temporary health insurance policy.
- Be sure to pack copies of relevant health records in the event that medical care becomes necessary. It may also be advisable to contact the US Embassy in your destination to obtain a list of local physicians.
4. Disease Prevention
Consulting with a Travel Health Specialist before embarking on an international excursion is vital. A consultation will allow for review of the child’s vaccination record, and your specialist will make important health recommendations.
Note that infant travelers are susceptible to diarrhea and gastrointestinal disorders. Parents should take the following precautions:
- Use only purified water for drinking and infant formula. Breast feeding is the safest option.
- Thoroughly clean toys and pacifiers before giving them to an infant.
- Avoid consumption of unpasteurized dairy products.
It’s important to watch an infant closely for any sign of illness, especially diarrhea. This is particularly true for destinations where malaria, tuberculosis and intestinal parasites are prevalent. The presence of a fever in excess of 101.5°F or an inability to retain liquids is cause for concern. The attention of a local physician is recommended in such cases.
Remember, extra careful preparations and special care are required when traveling abroad with an infant child. Nothing is more important than the health of your little ones, and returning home with a healthy baby and happy memories is more than worth the extra effort!