Cheap flights to South Korea from Philadelphia and New York have increased the opportunities for families to take a vacation or visit relatives in Asia. At the same time, overseas travel with children brings its own checklist of things to do to ensure that families can travel safely and enjoy their travel with minimum headaches. The following are some major issues that, when addressed, will make the process go much more smoothly.
Unlike adults, children can grow out of clothes quickly in just a few years. The same is true of facial features. That’s why the State Department requires children’s passports to be renewed much more frequently. While adults over age 16 can renew every 10 years, children must renew theirs every five years.
In addition, while many travelers can renew U.S. passports by mail, minors under age 16 must appear in person. Additional necessary documentation includes:
- Form DS-11 which is the standard passport application form.
- Evidence that the child is a U.S. citizen including a certified birth certificate or a prior passport.
- Proof of the relationship between the child and parents or legal guardian, which can be the same birth certificate if both parents are named, an adoption decree or court orders establishing guardianship.
- Identification of parents that can be in the form of a valid license, previously issued passport or current government or military ID.
- Photocopies of documentation from step four to be provided to State Department officials.
- Consent of parents either by appearing for the application or forms signed by guardians who are unable to appear in person.
TSA Guidelines for Children
The Transportation Security Administration guidelines for children under the age of 12 afford families some flexibility. Parents don’t have to deal with trying to take off shoes, and at least one parent can go through with a child through the various security measures. There are also multiple attempts available to children if they fail any initial tests.
One significant issue for younger children may be food and drinks for travel. While baby formula and “medically necessary” liquids are exempt, drinks like juice boxes still fall under the several-ounce restriction and also must fit in a quart bag. Snacks may help on long international flights. In addition, packing a few small games or books or fully-charged electronic devices can help children avoid boredom. Be sure to avoid ones with small pieces that can be lost in seats or on the floor.
Just as important is preparation for accidents. If parents can fit it into the child’s carryon baggage, a bag of wet wipes and a full change of clothes can ensure that if anything happens, no one is sitting in bodily fluids. In addition, pack a small garbage bag or a few shopping bags to contain soiled clothes until it’s possible to get them cleaned.
Immunizations and Dietary Needs
The State Department offers a list of immunizations that will limit children’s exposure to diseases and parents should take them to heart. In addition, they can check with their pediatrician to make sure that there are no needs for booster shots or other steps in order to limit the possibility of serious diseases overseas where language issues can cause issues during doctor or hospital visits.
A similar issue can come with children’s dietary needs compared to the cuisine available for families that take advantage of cheap flights to Korea. Trying out dishes similar to those available in-country can help parents limit nasty surprises if children don’t like certain dishes. In addition, it may help to have some comfort foods packed in checked baggage if a child feels overwhelmed by new culinary options even if it is just animal crackers or a few granola bars.
Safety Issues When Traveling with Children
No matter what parents do, a child may become lost briefly during travel. While the most likely event is to track a son or daughter down in a minute or two, sometimes that is not always possible. There are things that parents can do in order to reduce the chances of something bad happening.
The first is to notify the U.S. embassy that you are in-country with a child. If police find them, they are likely to try and get them back to an embassy or consulate, and employees there will know how to reach you. You can also create a small identification card that includes any contact information such as hotel and room number, any phone numbers and photos of you and your child for them to keep in their pocket.