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Travelling with kids

31 May, 2019 By Crystal Moran

Travelling is one of the most educational and inspiring activities you can embark on with your children. It can help encourage empathy and understanding of other groups of people, foster fine and gross motor skills as they navigate new environments, and grow resilence and adaptability to new situations. 

Travel can be a risky or stressful endeavour, particularly when travelling with kids, but some preparation and research now can help turn a dream holiday into a family memory cherished forever.

Get your documents ready

Paperwork requirements for tiny people can be complicated, especially for single parents or parents who don't have the same last name as their children. But without the right documents, you may find yourself turned away at the border. 

A survey by revealed that 73% of parents hadn’t considered bringing their child’s ID on a domestic trip despite it being a requirement for both Virgin and Jetstar. 92% of parents wouldn’t bring their child’s birth certificate to the airport either.

Children under two generally travel for free on domestic flights, so airlines may request proof of age. Occasionally, you may be asked to present your child’s birth certificate. It’s a good idea to ring up your airline and find out before you go. While an immunisation book or a MyGov account may suffice, parents without an acceptable proof of age for children under two may be refused travel.

When it comes to international travel things get a little tricky, particularly for single parents or guardians. Airport staff may require documents to rule out abductions or even trafficking offences. You may also be asked to prove your parental relationship to the child and show evidence that the other child’s parent has consented to the trip. Research the requirements of the country you're travelling to well before departure - a missed flight as a result of insufficient documents would not be covered by travel insurance.

If in doubt, consider bringing:
- A passport with the right travel visa if necessary, or another form of ID for domestic travel
- The child’s birth certificate
- A written consent from the child’s absent parent if you aren't travelling together. This may need to be notarised by a lawyer or Justice of the Peace. It’s also vital that the documents provide contact information for the absent parent.
- A copy of your child’s listed vaccinations along with any allergies or medications they require.

Buy family travel insurance

You may think that family travel insurance is just another unnecessary cost, but if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel.

Depending on where you're going, medical issues can start to mean real financial issues - a short stay in a US hospital can be $200,000 or more. Unlimited medical and hospital cover, as well as unlimited emergency assistance can be a huge load off your shoulders, ensuring that any trip to the hospital overseas will not be a financial burden. Travel insurance will usually allow your family to alter your travel plans if need be, with cover for cancellations, additional accommodation and travel expenses and family emergency cover.

One additional challenge of travelling with young kids is that if they get sick in the days leading up to your big trip, it may mean having to cancel the whole thing. Besides the disappointment this may cause, it can also be costly in terms of cancellation fees and lost deposits. Having a comprehensive travel insurance policy will mean that if this does occur, you won't be out of pocket. Most comprehensive travel insurance policies will include high levels of cover for cancellation fees and lost deposits, so if you do have to cancel, you have the opportunity to reschedule the dream trip.

Shop around

The good news is that it's not as expensive as you might think. Just have a quick browse online and you will find a whole heap of insurers willing to provide comprehensive cover specifically for family travel, and in some cases your kids will even be covered for free.

When travelling with kids, it's a good idea to compare policies to help you get the right cover for the entire family. Different companies offer varying levels of cover and may also have different rules and restrictions when it comes to covering dependents. Start doing your family travel insurance comparison to see who covers what.

Whether travelling on a single or family policy, dependent children will need to be added to the policy and usually have to be travelling with their parents. A family travel insurance policy will have set limits of cover for the entire family rather than for each individual. 

If in doubt - always read the Product Disclosure Statement, and if you're not sure about anything, contact the travel insurance company.

For more on travelling with kids, visit our travelling with kids safety guide.

Contributor Crystal Moran

Crystal Moran

With a research and journalism background, and certified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice, Crystal is passionate about investigating customers’ tricky travel questions and helping them find the answers they’re looking for. A writer and filmmaker whose favourite trips have been to film festivals in Cuba and South Korea, and campervanning around the USA, she loves getting to know new people and seeing a glimpse of the world through their eyes.

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