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How to Plan an Unforgettable International Family Vacation

Thinking about traveling with your baby or toddler but not sure where to start with planning, or all of the things you need to do for a successful trip? I feel ya! Travel, and especially international travel, can seem really daunting for some, especially when you add a small child to the mix. So today I’m shelling out a few tips to help new moms prepare for a fun and fabulous international family vacation!

I love to travel, and have spent much of my free time (and money) traveling since high school. I have been to 17 countries (and counting!) and studied abroad in both Switzerland and Thailand while in college. So when it comes to deciding what type of influence I want to have on Charlie, travel is one of the main influencers.

Lion stares into camera.

Taken during our honeymoon safari in South Africa

Colorful buildings next to shore.

Dakar, Senegal

I want to share my love for travel with her, and watch her as she explores new cultures, experiences new foods, and learns about the people that make up this big old great world. I want to help her develop compassion for people in tough circumstances, and become a global citizen with a desire to devour all that the world has to offer.

But trying to plan an international trip with a baby or toddler can be really hard. Charlie has flown many times since she was born, and each trip is a new learning experience. As we start planning for upcoming international trips, there are a variety of different things we need to take into account. This year we are planning multiple trips, and are considering places like Austria, Japan and Australia. But I’m most excited about planning a trip to Cuba! (see more in my last tip!).


Tall, leafy palm trees in front of Spanish style buildings.

In order to help other families get their travel on, here are some essential things to think about when planning an international family vacation.

Choosing a Location

Where you choose to go will have a huge impact on everything else on the list, from visas and packing to the type of gear you are going to want to bring. As a new mom, it can be nerve wracking to think of taking a vacation anywhere, but international travel often *seems* more difficult. It actually doesn’t have to be!

Thanks to the internet, it is easy to find tips and reviews for family-friendly travel all around the world. Seasoned travelers may have a difficult time choosing a location too, but likely more because of narrowing down that bucket list (the problem me and my hubby run into every time we start thinking about travel!). For a trip with a baby or toddler however, it is important to think about the type of experience you want to have, including activities offered there, places to visit, or the availability of services, such as medical or retail.

If that last one is you, that is ok! Lots of parents want to be sure they are in an area that they can access medical care and stores for baby necessities to help them feel comfortable while traveling with an infant.Do what makes you happy.

Women and toddler girl sit in rocking chairs.

Apply for a Passport for Everyone, including Infants

If you are leaving the US, you are going to need a passport (and most likely for other countries as well- be sure to check!).

Babies and Toddlers also require their own valid passport to travel internationally. A birth certificate just doesn’t cut it!

Applying for a passport for a child under 16 is a little different than the normal process:

  • Passports must be applied for in person (cannot be mailed in or submitted online)
  • You’ll need to fill out a Form DS-11 (passport application)
  • Bring BOTH an original form of US Citizenship Evidence and a photocopy of that same evidence
  • Both parents need to be present. If one is unable to attend, then a Statement of Consent needs to be filled out and NOTARIZED ahead of time. Both parents need to bring their IDs and proof of relationship as well (hint: a valid birth certificate will cover both the child’s citizenship and the parents’s relationship items)
  • Be prepared with a photo and fees. Passport officials recommend taking a close up photo of your baby laying on a white sheet, or covering a car seat with a sheet and then sitting the child in there for a clear shot.

It is really important to take care of the passport ahead of time. It can take 6-8 weeks for normal processing, and 2-3 weeks for expedited. Passports for children under the age of 16 need to renewed every 5 years, which is half the time of an adult passport. Something to keep in mind!

Consider what gear you need, and don’t need to bring

When traveling with babies or toddlers, where you are traveling is going to have an impact on what type of baby gear you’ll be bringing. Consider your destination and activities, but the basics to bring include:

We all know what picky eaters babies can be. It is is a good idea to bring a small amount of foods your child just “has to have”, in case you are unable to locate it at your destination. Diapers and wipes can be purchased in most locations, but if you are considering going somewhere exotic or remote you may want to bring enough to cover the trip, or ship some to your hotel.

Find Activities & Accommodations Suitable for Families (& Get Some Help Doing It!)

Traveling with Charlie is a bit different than traveling pre-baby with my husband. Not only do I need to take into account the type of activities she would enjoy doing, but I also have to think (& plan) more carefully about transportation, lodging, and schedules. It can be a lot to conquer at once! While I personally love spending hours pouring over travel sites and researching the perfect vacation, I don’t always have the time to do that anymore being a Mom.

That’s why I’m really glad to have found while starting my research for a upcoming family vacation. They specialize in helping families create fun travel memories to gorgeous exotic locations. One of those just happens to be Cuba—a place that we simply CANNOT wait to visit.

Cuban flag waves from window of colorful building.

From the moment the travel restrictions were lifted, we have been plotting our escape to check out Cuba’s fascinating culture and architecture. We have talked about adding a trip to Cuba to a trip to the Alabama coast where we will visit family (seems like the perfect excuse since we will be even closer!).

I love the idea of visiting before too many tourists get there, and am excited about all of the great things to explore with Charlie, like the classic cars & buildings in Havana, or hiking in the Sierra de los Órgano mountain range. And of course eating the amazing food!

Vintage cars parked in front of colorful historic buildings.

Woman cooks kabobs on outdoor grill.

But if I’m honest, I know NOTHING about visiting Cuba, except of course from what I have seen watching travel shows. Luckily Anywhere has an amazing team of local travel agents who are there to help me plan the perfect family vacation—for FREE! 

It was so easy to use too. I spent some time exploring all about Cuba on the website (with the assistance of a little helper), and then completed the easy to follow steps to submit my ideal vacation requirements. I was able to select the type of activities & accommodations I wanted, my travel preferences, and even whether I am a morning person or a night owl (I selected morning, because, BABIES!).

And then someone else did all of the work for me.

Toddler girl reaches for computer keyboard.Graphic image collage of How to Plan an Unforgettable International Family Vacation.

When is the last time someone did all your work for you as a Mom?

I got an email within a few hours with a flexible itinerary that included suggestions for hotels, activities, transportation and more. I was able to view the suggestions and communicate back with my trip expert requesting a few changes and other possibilities until I had the perfect arrangement.

I like knowing that I can plan a trip to somewhere exotic, but not have to be worry about guessing when it comes to finding the right mix of things for my family. Plus having someone I can chat with about the trip is great because I don’t know anyone who has been there yet! I definitely recommend checking out how Anywhere can help you plan a family vacation.

They are offering my readers $100 off any trip with! Click here for the offer.

Overall traveling with a baby or toddler doesn’t have to be stressful, it just takes planning. For more to help you plan your next vacation with infants, check out the links below. And be sure to visit The Mom Friend on Pinterest, where there is a board dedicated to family travel in Cuba!

Have you been to Cuba? I’d love hear your recommendations. If not, is it someplace you would like to go?

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Pinnable image for Tips for an Amazing and Exotic Family Vacation.

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