With proper planning, travelling with kids can be easy and fun. The amount of planning that you have to do depends on where are you going, how you are getting there, what you plan on doing, the ages of your kids and any special needs that they may have.
Start with a checklist
It is a good idea to make a pre-travel checklist. We have included links to a number of pages to help you create a checklist that meets your family's needs.
Get consent if your child is travelling without both parents
If your child is travelling abroad with only one parent (if you both share custody), or on their own, you should arrange a consent letter before the trip. This letter will reassure security agents that your child can travel with the permission of both parents.
Find out about your destination
Consult the government's travel advisory website for up-to-date travel safety and security information. Some travel advisory sites include:
If you are going somewhere hot, you will need to pack sunscreen for your child. You can learn how to avoid sunburn by reading our page on sun safety for kids.
If you plan to vacation in extreme heat, read our pages about preventing heat stroke and heat exhaustion and staying safe in the water as you cool off and have fun.
If you are headed for a winter destination, think about all the extra clothing you should pack to be properly dressed for the cold. You should also know the signs of common cold weather injuries and how to avoid them.
Winter destinations usually mean being on the slopes, on the ice or in the wilderness. Here are some tips about staying safe while having fun doing your winter activities.
Vaccinations and infectious diseases
Depending on where you are going, your family may need special vaccinations against infectious diseases in addition to the shots that everyone gets routinely. To find out if this is necessary, visit your government's foreign travel health website. Up-to-date travel health information is available from:
If you are travelling to a developing country or a country where you could contract tuberculosis or malaria, go to a travel medicine clinic. There, you can get medical advice, health insurance and any necessary vaccinations. Be sure to go to the clinic six to eight weeks before you travel so that you and your child have time to get any vaccinations you may need.
If your child gets a fever days or even weeks after your vacation, tell your doctor about your trip. Your child might have picked up the illness while still on the trip and only start to show symptoms after returning home.
If you are travelling to another country with your family, it is recommended that you purchase supplementary health insurance in case anyone gets sick or injured. In Ontario OHIP only provides limited funding for medical services outside of Canada. If you will be out of the country for more than 212 days, you should contact OHIP to confirm you have continuous OHIP coverage for while you are away and when you return to Canada.
Pack a first-aid kit for common ailments
It is a good idea to put together a small first aid kit with medications such as Tylenol, bandages and any other medication that your family needs. Remember to bring the paper prescription with you as well.
Keep your kids happy and safe in transit
Travelling by air
Dr. Pat has great advice about travelling with children on airplanes and some suggestions about how to explain 'pat-downs' and body scanners to children.
Travelling by car
Most kids and parents are more familiar with car travel. At this point, everyone should know that babies and kids need to be restrained properly in a car seat or booster seat. If you are renting a car, make sure you can rent the correct size car seat as well and that you know how to install it yourself.
If your kids are prone to car sickness, they can read all about it on our Just for Kids motion sickness page.
Keep food safety in mind
Food poisoning is a great way to ruin a vacation. Whether you eat out or prepare your own meals, find out how to protect your family from food-borne illness.
Travel advice for kids with special needs
A health condition shouldn't prevent your family from having a great time on vacation. Here is some advice on some specific conditions:
Wherever you go and whatever you do, a vacation is a special time when you and your family can enjoy each other's company. Bon voyage!