Skip to main content

How to Take Kids Abroad

Have you ever wanted to take your kids on a trip abroad? I left my husband behind and flew with my kids halfway around the world. Here's how I did it:
  • Author:
  • Updated:
traveling with my kids abroad

In August of this year I had the chance to take my children (by myself!) abroad. Spain was the main agenda, where half of my family still lives, to show the kids where our family comes from. There's something incredible about going somewhere where people look like you, where your family names are the village names, and where you can run into relatives all over town. My kids have been learning Spanish and were excited to meet their cousins--it turns out that Xbox is the true universal language! It was the trip of a lifetime: exhausting, limit-pushing, crazy organization and schedules, and finally about letting it all go to have fun.

A few pictures from our trip are in this gallery, or scroll for tips about how to take kids abroad--

[imagebrowser id="155"]

My tips for taking kids abroad:

Scroll to Continue

Recommended for You

  • Plan plenty of time to arrange for passports. I ordered ours 5 months before we were supposed to go.
  • Have you tried Google Flights? It was easy to view the best range of ticket price options across a specific time period, and we ended up saving a bunch of money on tickets.
  • Call about your itinerary if it seems complicated. We had three flights there and three flights back. On the last leg, the flight attendant told us that since we’d booked through the airline website, we could have called the airline and had them simplify our itinerary. I wish we’d known that before!
  • Neck pillows for the kids. We picked out neck pillows that were also stuffed animals. Handy on the flights, on long car rides, and as a friend for sleeping in a strange bed.
  • Give every child a job. Whether it's handling a suitcase, helping a sibling with their seatbelt, or keeping track of crayons, kids do better when they have a job to focus on while getting on and off airplanes.
  • Headphones scaled for kids. Every kid had their own over-ear headphones, it helped for the airline as well as for peace and quiet in the car.
  • Stock a backpack for each kid with new crayons, paper, books, small toys, healthy treats, and even comics for older ones. Seek out the triangle-shaped crayons for your younger kids--they don't roll off airline trays. They kept their headphones and neck pillows inside their backpacks as well.
  • Melatonin to help with jet lag. Some of you already know about melatonin. I wish I’d known about it! It was a life saver and really worked for my kids--while we were there and when we got back home.
  • Stay in a house or apartment if you can. We stayed in a 2nd floor flat without anyone below us. The kids could run, scream, and be noisy without me being worried they were bothering neighbors. You forget how noisy Americans are!
  • Pack light. For real. You can do it. 5 shirts, 3 pants, underwear, 1 sweater, 2 shoes (one for walking, one for the beach,) for the kids for 3 weeks. There are washing machines outside of America, y'all. I took only two medium suitcases. I bought an extra duffle there for packing souvenirs home.
  • Don’t over schedule. I love a jam-packed schedule, but for max vacation enjoyment, dial it way back. Kids get tired, hungry, and dehydrated quickly.
  • You can’t see everything. Don’t try. Be realistic about seeing everything, pick the most important things to you and know that even though you may be tempted to try everything, it will just result in misery for you and the children. If the choice was between a 2 hour day trip and a 30 minute one, you know what to do. If you were going with grownups you could try to see everything, but this is not the trip for that.
  • Don’t count on Internet access. It was few and far between, so download movies and apps to your device before you go. This may be a plus for you, but not being connected was rough on me; working overseas can be hit or miss. Turns out I need you peoples.
  • Do check out Internet access from the car rental place! The car rental place offered a mobile wifi connection device that was $200 for our entire 3 week trip. We should have opted for this, instead I bought phone data and it ended up being far more expensive.
  • The Fanta is way better in Europe. Just let your kids drink the soda.
  • Go out and explore the countryside. During the summers many European countries like Spain have regional or local festivals and carnivals. It's safe, fun, and immersive.
  • Relax and enjoy the trip. Let things go. Eat pastries at every meal. Bedtime is out the window. Sleep late. Take every chance you can to connect with kids.

Have you ever wanted to take kids abroad? Do you travel with kids already? Share your best ideas!

Other posts you might like:

What it's Like to Move to Costa Rica

More Tips for Traveling with Kids

Traveling with Babies


Test Drive New Ford Escape

Taking a Trip to Ford in Detroit

I seriously obsess about my cars because they cart my whole life around. Don't you? I got to take one car on the test track at Ford this summer. A dream come true! Sorry about going too fast on the track...

air and space museum

Best Museums for Kids

Inspire wonder, indulge their curiosity, and teach them something new--take your kids to one of the best museums in the U.S.!

Disney Magic Cruise Ship Disney

Disney Magic Cruise Adventure Review

Have you ever wondered what taking your family on a Disney Cruise would be like? We have your inside scoop with a Disney Magic cruise review.


4 Exciting Family Vacation Ideas Around the World

Great travel destinations abroad to broaden the kids' horizons...

Bird's Nest in Beijing (Flickr: Marc Dalmulder)

Coolest Olympic Stadiums to Visit with the Kids

There are quite a few sites that are surprisingly in use and worth visiting. See new wonders left behind from the Beijing Olympics. Or visit old world charms like the Estadi Olímpic Lluis Companys in Barcelona and the various sites in Greece where you can even visit places that housed the Olympics in ancient times. Here are some wonderful sites to take the kids.

5 Reasons Why Taking Care of the Dog is My Kid's Job

5 Reasons Why Taking Care of the Dog is My Kid’s Job

I can't imagine my home without a dog in it, but I'm committed to my kids doing the heavy lifting when it comes to caring for her. I think it teaches kids some really important things...

Snapshot 2012-07-09 11-46-50

So Much Family Travel

I didn't think we were doing any family travel this summer, and then suddenly the calendar blew up. Here's what we'll pack for three trips worth of travel activities.

blackfish movie and moms

"Stop Taking Kids to SeaWorld" Blackfish and the Rise of Moms Saying No to SeaWorld

I'm not an animal rights person, but at what point do you say that an animal shouldn't be kept in small pens and made to perform tricks for our kids? A new film, Blackfish, about the killer SeaWorld whale, has us asking the question.