list of steps to planning for international travel with kids

* This post was written by guest blogger, Carolyn Anderson-Fermann

Traveling internationally with kids may seem like a luxury, but for many with families or jobs overseas it is unavoidable. As a professional organizer, mother of two and wife of a German national; my family has traveled to Europe twice with children aged 3 and under.  Trip planning—and the trip itself—can truly be a pleasure for everyone.  Here is a time-line based guide to help your family plan for a trip overseas.

list of steps to planning for international travel with kids |

At Least Two Months Prior:

  • Apply for Passports—For all minors under age 16, including infants, both custodial parents must be present to apply for a US passport. US Citizens can find more information, including all of the required forms at:
  • Budget for Your Trip—International travel is not cheap, even if you are able to stay with family or friends. At least two months in advance, take a look at your budget and estimated expenses for your trip.
  • Book Airline Tickets—According to a recent article in The New York Times booking airline tickets up to six months in advance may provide the best deals. If your schedule allows, try to get the best rate by booking early.

One Month Prior:

  • Start Reading Up—Travel is an enlightening experience, especially for school age children. Take your kids to your local library or bookstore to find resources on your destination.
  • Create a Staging Area—A staging area is one spot where all trip related items will land until packing day. I like to use a 66 quart bin, stored out of reach of my children.
  • Set Up Files—For trip related papers and passports, I use a clear plastic folder with a Velcro closure. For electronic files, I use Evernote (, which syncs with my PC and mobile device.

Two Weeks Prior:

  • Pack Travel Kits—Quart size zipper bags work great for kits of toiletries, medicines (see my blog for an example) and even snacks.
  • Set Itinerary—If you are a spontaneous type, you might want to skip this step. For the rest of us, List Mama has us covered. Setting your travel itinerary avoids conflicts on the road, allows you to pack according to your plans and is a great opportunity to get older children involved in the planning.

One Week Prior:

  • Start Packing—This is a good time to determine what luggage you will use and if you will be checking a bag. I like to start selecting outfits at this time, which is really easy if your destination will be warmer or cooler than at home. Each day’s complete outfit can then be packed into a gallon zipper bag for kids or a 2.5 gallon zipper bag for adults.

One Day Prior:

  • Be Ready—If possible allow a little extra time in your schedule to finish packing and lay out everyone’s clothes for the next day. Try to get a good night’s rest.

The Morning Of:

  • Final Pack Up—On the morning of your trip pack up the items you use daily and check to make sure all of your documents (i.e. passports, tickets) are in order. If you have forgotten anything, chances are you can find it (or something more interesting) at your destination.

For a free copy of Carolyn’s “Secrets of a Simply Organized Life” and monthly tips on organizing sign up at Simply Organized Life.

Carolyn Anderson-Fermann, Simply Organized LifeAbout The Author:
In 2005 Carolyn Anderson-Fermann founded Simply Organized LifeSM with the mission of helping others let go of clutter to find more time and space for the things that really matter in life. A public speaker and organizing expert, Carolyn is a Golden Circle member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). She holds an MBA from Michigan State University and brings her clients nearly 10 years of corporate experience.
Contact Carolyn at: 734-646-4177 or

©2012, Carolyn Anderson-Fermann, Simply Organized Life, All Rights Reserved

One response to “list of steps to planning for international travel with kids”

  1. Guest says:

    This is a super article. Next week we will be travelling overseas for the first time with our 1 year old daughter and while I am excited about the holiday, I am nervous about getting there and the flight because ıur daughter is very active and prone to outbursts.   Does anyone have any tips to keep the litle ones amused during the flight?


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