Discovering the world with small children is really fun! Don't worry about long flights or time changes: With our tips you will succeed in planning and your big trip will be an unforgettable experience for the whole family. Checklists, destinations, climate tables on the best time to travel and an expert interview give you the info you need to prepare.
How to make a long-distance trip with children work
The idea has been there for a while and so has the wanderlust: you want to go far away, swim in the warm sea on dream beaches, discover impressive nature and observe unusual animals in the wild. And the most important thing about it: Your children should go on the big trip with you and be part of the adventure. No problem! If you pay attention to a few details, then nothing will stand in the way of a long-distance trip with children. Use our information and tips to make your family vacation a complete success. We will help you to choose the right destination and give you some important hints for the preparation of your trip and the time on the spot. This is how you can make your free time with a toddler relaxing and enjoyable.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO CONSIDER WHEN TRAVELING WITH YOUR FAMILY
Our checklist for vacations with children will help you decide on the perfect long-distance trip.
The ideal destination for long-distance travel with small children can be reached by non-stop flight. Stopovers are possible, but require more preparation. Small children enjoy quiet sunny days on flat sandy beaches – for example in Thailand. This is also one of the top travel destinations with baby, as you can find essential items such as diapers and similar baby food in almost all major supermarkets there – but you should take the powdered milk with you from Germany.
You travel with baby or kindergarten child? Then they are not dependent on the school vacations, but can switch to the usually cheaper off-season. Inform yourself in advance about the climatic conditions at the desired time of travel.
3. Travel duration
Plan at least 14 days of vacation for trips to zones with a considerable time difference – such as Mexico or Thailand. This way you can get used to the new day-night rhythm in peace and be fit for all the beautiful experiences that await you.
Choose a family-friendly hotel with a freshwater pool. Children's entertainment is an advantage, but not a must. Orientate yourself on the recommendation rate: Among the reviews given, especially families should have expressed themselves positively about the facility, hygiene and the food suitable for children.
5. Hygiene& Safety
Travel countries with dubious security situation or insufficient hygiene are out of the question – as well as areas with natural disaster risk. In tourist-popular regions in Thailand, Mexico or even Africa, you benefit from Western European health standards including English-speaking doctors. Current travel warnings can be obtained from the German Foreign Office.
6. Entry requirements
Find out early about mandatory and recommended vaccinations, import regulations for medicines and, of course, the necessary travel documents such as visas.
CALENDAR FOR LONG DISTANCE TRAVEL
What all long-distance destinations have in common: Their climatic conditions differ considerably from the average monthly temperatures in Germany. You should also consider the regional rainy seasons. It is also important that you choose an area with moderate temperatures, because especially small children and babies are very sensitive to high heat.
TANZANIA IN SUMMER
The best time to travel to East Africa and Tanzania: The ideal time to travel to Tanzania with a baby or small child is during the dry months of January and February and in summer between June and October.
THAILAND IN AUTUMN
The best time to travel to Southeast Asia and Thailand: book your trip with children in the months of November to February. In the German winter, the best bathing conditions prevail on the other side of the globe. From March the temperatures there rise up to 40 degrees.
MEXICO IN WINTER
The best time to travel to Central America and Mexico: From December to April you can enjoy the beautiful beaches around Cancún. Hurricanes sweep the Atlantic coast starting in June. Avoid also the autumn as a travel time.
Tip 1 for long-distance travel with children: Tanzania
Tanzania offers numerous great vacation destinations for your long-distance trip with children: Discover the fascinating wildlife on a safari in the Serengeti savannah or swim in the crystal clear waters on one of Zanzibar's dream beaches! Our tip: Book your hotel at Kendwa Beach – the white sandy beach on Zanzibar with a shallow swimming entrance is sheltered in a bay, is less tide-dependent and is ideal for splashing around with children!
Beaches: Kendwa Beach welcomes you with paradisiacal palm beaches, turquoise water and gently sloping sandy beaches as well as pleasant water temperatures of 25-28 degrees all year round.
Flight duration: 11-15 hours with one stopover, a big advantage is the small time difference: the clocks in Tanzania are only two hours fast!
Entry: In addition to your passports (valid for at least six months), you will also need passports for the children and a tourist visa. Apply for your visa directly online!
Leisure tips for families:
Experience elephants and lions in the wild on a safari in the Serengeti savannah and book a family tour with campfire under the African starry sky – the little ones will be amazed at so many twinkling lights at night!
At the edge of the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater is waiting for you. Between 17 and 21 kilometers is the diameter of the crater. Numerous animals like zebras, wildebeests and buffalos live in the nature reserve, which inspires children as well as parents.
Experience bathing fun in the hot springs of Kikuletwa. Dive into warm, turquoise waters on your long-distance trip with children and marvel at the mighty tree roots jutting into the crystal-clear water.
Tip 2 for long-distance travel with children: Thailand
Our top destination for your family vacation in Thailand is the beautiful island of Koh Samui, with its miles of white sand beaches and hammocks under palm trees! The perfect beach day is spent at Bo Phut Beach: thanks to the shallow sloping shore, the little ones can splash around in the warm water, and you can enjoy the tranquility away from the busy beaches in the center of the island.
Beaches: Koh Samui enchants its visitors with gorgeous sandy beaches and turquoise waters. With its colorful underwater world and many exotic fish, the island is the perfect place for snorkeling!
Flight duration: 18-20 hours with two stops in between
Entry: You do not need a visa for a travel duration of maximum 30 days. A valid passport with at least six months remaining from the date of entry is sufficient, as long as you can prove your timely departure with your return ticket. For the children you also need passports.
Leisure tips for families:
Visit the Big Buddha statue at the northern tip of Koh Samui. Admission costs nothing and the huge golden Buddha statue is an impressive sightseeing destination for the little ones, too. The surrounding cafes entice you to take an extensive lunch break when little legs get tired.
At the Art-Samui Museum, families with children can experience art up close and personal. The best part: visitors can integrate themselves into the works and take unforgettable photos.
Enjoy a day trip to Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park. While you enjoy the unique nature, the kids will especially enjoy boating.
Tip 3 for long-distance travel with children: Mexico
Cancún and Playa del Carmen are a vacation paradise for families planning a long-haul trip to Mexico. Children are as warmly welcomed here as adults and hotels often offer their own animation program for the youngest ones. Pure relaxation awaits you on the dream beaches of the Caribbean coast!
Beaches: Both young and old will get their money's worth at kid-friendly resorts on seemingly endless sandy beaches. Build a sandcastle together from the fine white sand and frolic with the kids in the crystal clear water!
Flight duration: 11-15 hours, direct flight
Entry: You will need a passport valid for at least six more months for yourself and your children. You don't need a visa, you will receive a tourist card with 180 days validity upon entry.
Leisure tips for families:
Spend a day at the Xcaret Adventure Park: This natural amusement park offers numerous attractions where young and old can experience the overwhelming nature and the exciting culture of the Maya in a playful way.
Visit the Wet'n Wild water park in Cancún with your kids. Splash around with the little ones or whiz down one of the slides. Fun and action is guaranteed during your visit.
Explore the Jolly Rogers pirate ship in Cancún and experience an unforgettable pirate show with the whole family.
Long-haul flight: This is how it works even with small children
The long haul flight to your vacation destination with kids doesn't have to be stressful if you prepare for it together. Our checklist for preschoolers shows you what not to forget in your hand luggage and how to get the little ones in the ideal mood for the trip:
For the cozy:
- Cuddle blanket
- Cuddly toy
- A book to read aloud
For the small hunger:
- Vegetable sticks and fruit are ideal as snacks
- For takeoff and landing, pack a lollipop each way. Sucking makes it easier to equalize the pressure between the nose and the ear
- Divide the flight into sections days in advance
- Use your finger on the globe to explain the route and arrange play and rest phases
If a few tears do flow:
- Stay calm! The child's stress is doubled when parents react with loud admonishments.
- Ask the flight attendants for a play set or similar for children traveling with you.
Flight with baby:
- Planning a long-haul flight with baby? Find out well in advance if your airline offers seats with a baby seat.
Time change for long-distance travel: Don't worry about jet lag
Time change – no problem: The little ones often cope better with the new rhythm than adults. Did you know that you can start preparing for the daily rhythm at your destination while still on board your plane?? Change your clocks to the local time of the destination when you leave, so you get used to it early on. If possible, try to adapt your meals to the daily routine on the ground already during the flight, because food intake plays a major role in the brain center for the sleep-wake rhythm. When you arrive at your vacation destination during the day, take your children outside for some fresh air. Daylight and oxygen boost circulation and make it easier to stay awake longer.
5 Questions for Pediatrician Dr. Stephie Zillmer, (34)
At what age are air travels with small children possible??
In principle, infants can also travel by air – even longer ones. However, the Association of German Pediatricians and Adolescents (BVKJ) advises waiting at least six to eight weeks before the first flight to make sure the little lungs are fully developed and can withstand any pressure and oxygen fluctuations.
Some long-distance destinations require vaccinations. When to start prophylaxis?
Take enough time to plan extensively for a long-distance trip with young children – at least six months in advance. Consult a pediatrician or travel medicine specialist for advice and information on local infection risks. The tropical medicine institutes in Germany can also help.
In general, it is advisable to make the first long-distance trips with a small child after the basic immunization has been completed, i.e. from the age of 18 months, when the child has received the vaccinations recommended by the permanent vaccination commission (STIKO). Short flights, for which no vaccinations are necessary, can be taken by infants as mentioned above.
How to prepare preschoolers for the long flight?
You should take enough books and toys with you to make the flight as entertaining as possible. It is important to drink enough fluids. If space permits on the plane, children should get up and move around a bit now and then. It is also a good idea to reserve a place near a toilet in advance.
How can I best protect my child from infections while on vacation??
Sufficient vaccination protection is an important prerequisite. In addition, diarrheal diseases are the greatest danger in many countries.
To avoid infection with pathogens such as hepatitis A, typhoid fever or cholera, it is essential to observe appropriate hygiene measures: avoid uncooked food and only drink bottled or boiled water.
Annoying mosquitoes love to attack the delicate skin of children. How to protect children preventively?
To protect themselves from mosquito bites, children should sleep under a mosquito net at night in countries with high mosquito occurrence. Keep windows and doors closed after sunset. During the day, children should wear light-colored clothing, ideally impregnated, and apply age-appropriate mosquito repellent such as creams or sprays. These are also available for infants.
If teddy patches or fever suppositories are not enough, you must consult a pediatrician. Travel health insurance protects you from high cash expenses. It is best to look up addresses of pediatricians who speak German or English while you are still at home. Or ask for a clinic at your hotel. You can quickly find medical help in the tourist areas that are well-developed!
This must be in the first-aid kit for children
For many minor injuries and known illnesses, it is already sufficient if you yourself provide the kids with the necessary medication – Dr. Mom is the best anyway! With the checklist for the first-aid kit with baby, toddler or schoolchild of the Center for Travel Medicine you don't forget anything important and are prepared for all small emergencies – no matter whether insect bite, diarrhea, earache or slight fever! It is essential to review this list with your pediatrician prior to travel and discuss any necessary vaccinations or prophylactic treatments at an early stage.
At the resort, it is recommended to buy only bottled drinking water. This is however often low in minerals. Therefore, it is best to take mineral tablets with you to provide your organism with the necessary electrolytes. If your child takes medication on a permanent basis, be sure to have a sufficient amount of it in your luggage, ideally about one-third more than is intended for the duration of the trip. Also be aware that some medicines need to be stored in a cool place, and it is best to carry them in a suitable cooler bag.