|We are travelers--Ken and I. So, when we became guardians for our adorable, much loved
grandson, we had a decision to make. Do we stop our travels (which is why we retired fairly
young) or do we accept a change in our travel style and take along a five year old? At first it
seemed as if we had a real decision to make but soon we realized that there was no
significant reason not to take him. What a character defining experience this would be for
him whether or not he retained any retrievable memories. Imbedded in him would be an
understanding that the world is large, that there is much to explore and to learn and that
there is excitement and satisfaction in making friends of people in other cultures. What
better gift could we give him? A life long love of travel would be a wonderful legacy to leave
him. Soon we found ourselves excited about planning a trip with a new focus--a six week
excursion to Spain and Italy through the eyes of a child.
|Ideas for Trip Preparation:
DOCUMENTATION NEEDED TO TAKE CHILD OUT OF COUNTRY: If you are bringing a child other than
your own or if you are traveling as a single parent, it is important that you carry documentation which clearly states
your right to take the child out of the country. If a single mother, you will need notorized documentation that, if the
father is on the birth certificate, he is aware of and approves of his child leaving the country. If you are a single
father, you will need the same information from the mother. If you are taking a grandchild or a non-related child,
you will need notorized permission from both parents giving permission for you to take him/her with you. Again, if
the father is not identified on the birth certificate, you will only need the permission of the mother. (This was
information I verified with US Passport Services.) Don't forget that you will need a passport even for an infant.
If you have guardianship of the child, be certain to bring your guardianship papers allowing you to authorize medical
treatment wherever you are--not just in the United States. If you are not official guardians, you would be wise to
get notorized parental statements authorizing you to obtain medical attention if needed.
We were never asked for any paperwork when going through customs in the US, Italy or Spain--all we did was
show Casey's passport; however, we were told we would not be allowed to continue if we were asked for it and
didn't have it. Perhaps because Casey shares our last name, things went particularly smoothly.
|Cream of Wheat Packets: We knew we could buy cereal once
there; but, Casey likes cream of wheat. It was easy to pack,
took up little room, served as comfort food and was easy to
prepare if we did not get to the store. My husband thought it
was a strange thing to pack but once there had to admit that it
was a good idea. Several times it really saved the day when
nothing else would do--for dinner! It made our life
easier--remember that is very important!
Fruit by the Foot/Fruit Roll-Ups/little candy packets/raisin
boxes/other little goodie things: These were great on the plane,
in the car, while walking, just about anywhere. Can not tell you
|Clothes: You won't need as many as you think as contrary to home, clothes can and will be worn several times
between washings. The convertable pants are great (the kind where the legs zip off) for kids--for the obvious
reasons of weather changes, dual purpose, dressing up and down.
Odds and Ends:
Cheap, lightweight washclothes. They came in quite handy at bath time. Just leave them along the way when they
get smelly, etc.
Handiwipes are great to have (for adults, too.)
Security blanket, stuffed animal, whatever
Good selection of toys, coloring books, books, crayons. Be sure to bring some that can be used in the car.
Water bottle with straw or "sucking" type top for on the plane. Comes in handy once there, too.
Interactive toy--Casey used his VTech-Classmate Slate constantly in the car. Kept him occupied.
Children's music tapes for the car
Car Seat: If you are renting a car and if your child is still small enough to use a booster seat order one--even if you
don't use one here (in CA children through age 6 or 7 must use them so we are used to it.) The advantage in
traveling, besides safety, is that he/she will sit up much higher and thus be able to see out the window. The
advantage of this is obvious. Casey traveled so much better because he was able to occupy himself by seeing
things rather than just staring at the back of the front seat. One day we could not use it and it was a much less
pleasant travel day for all of us. I believe that this is one of the most important tips I am sharing.
|PLANE TRAVEL: Just a couple of things here.
Many planes have a children's program included on the video list.
Be sure to look for that. It may be cartoons that are repeated
every 8th one--but kids love it anyway.
Pay attention to your seat assignment. Try to get bulkhead.
If you have the miles, it is well worth using them to upgrade to
business. Casey could really squirm and move around.
If you have multiple plane changes, consider staying at the aiport
hotel before the last one. Helps break the flying up for your child,
allows for a night's sleep, lets him/her burn up some energy. We
flew from San Diego to Chicago to Frankfurt to Madrid. We
arranged to stay at the Frankfurt Sheraton which is right at the
airport and then went on to Madrid the next day. Spent the
afternoon, wandering around the old part of Frankfurt. Worked
very well and virtually made it possible to avoid jet lag the first
day in Spain. On way back flew from Rome, spent the night in
Frankfurt again and then flew home the next day.
Give your child a little pull-on suitcase. Fill it with the toys he can
play with on the plane and once at your destination. Include a
change of clothes and some goodies.
Remember to order a child's meal; however, I must say that the
airlines' concept of these meals can be quite bizarre.
For night flights, change him/her into pajamas.
|Scattered through the various sections and pages of both the Italy and Spain portions of our 2003 trip, you
will or have found little tidbits of information about our experiences. The purpose of this section is to share
some experiences, tips and suggestions for other travelers with children. None of this is new or terribly
insightful, but since we human beings do learn from each other, maybe this will be helpful to a few of
you--particularly fellow grandparents. I hope so.
|how many times when the grumpies started, these little treats
took care of the problem. Casey always made sure that grandma
had her "magic purse" with her.
Computer with DVD Drive: We bought this for an earlier trip
and have found it to be a great thing to have. I always travel
with a lightweight computer anyway so the only extra bit for
Casey is the external drive. If you don't want to carry a
computer, think about getting one of the small portable DVD
players. Be sure to get an adapter for the plane. Also, make sure
it is dual voltage. Laptops all are--but don't know about the little
players. Then just bring along some of your child's favorite
DVD's and maybe pick up a couple new ones. It is really nice to
have on the long plane trip, in airports and in the evenings when
you just want to relax--also, helps your child relax and wind
down. Hint: Don't bring videos from home as they won't play
on European VCR's. Update: We have switched to a portable
|Traveling With Casey