Welcome to the time of the year when families of K through 12th-grade children will participate in the annual spring ritual of a recess from schoolwork. However, 2021 will look differently depending on the specific school system’s decision to hold the classroom work in person, online, or a combination of the two.
Based on my conversations with friends and colleagues, teaching at home has created a never-before appreciation for the professionals who teach our children. Keeping children engaged with schoolwork and building routines around our work life has had its challenges and to be able to take a schoolcation break can be sorely needed.
Professionals in the travel industry can attest to the rising number of countries eagerly preparing to welcome tourists’ dollars to make up for a long, lost year. Luxury hotels, resorts, and Airbnbs are filled with anticipation and raring to go to fulfill the desires of American vacationers.
Hold on… first things first! Doing due diligence with the ever-changing travel guidelines and restrictions to ensure you have a seamless memorable holiday as a family.
Current International Guidelines for Traveling Families
International travel, for the upcoming months, will be considered a true luxury for those who have the gift of time since travelers may have to include a transitioning period to enter the U.S. which may extend quarantining either at your vacation destination or at home.
Need To Know
The United States Department of State provides comprehensive resources on preparing to travel abroad including safety and security information, crisis planning, health precautions, and money exchanges. Key points:
· Always, always check with your airlines, and transit/destination countries in regards to the most updated travel requirement which can change at a moment’s notice.
· Currently, the majority of countries are mandating strict travel advisories consisting of:
o Testing and producing negative results within at least 5-7 days of a visitor’s flight
o Children, depending on age may or may not have to be tested
o Expect to fill out health forms and do temperature readings
o If found to be symptomatic, visitors will be isolated at a government-designated facility until allowed to depart.
· Be aware with regards to U.S. Citizens and legal permanent residents returning from international countries must present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure. Airlines are required to confirm proof for all passengers two years of age and over or deny boarding.
· Are Your Documents in Order? – Travelers are strongly advised to apply for passports several months in advance as governmental offices may be limited in staff and appointment hours for emergency cases. Expediting to 4-6 weeks is an additional cost. Note that children’s passports (ages 16 and under) are valid for only five years, compared to ten years for adults.
Also, be aware when traveling as a single parent with minors, foreign border officials may require custody documents or notarized written consent from the other parent. We also wrote another blog on trends and tips for the affluent traveler that may provide handy resources.
Preparation Is Key
If Business or First-Class:
· Book flights as early as possible, strategize the scheduled times of the flight and the seats you pick for the family
· Business or first class will be a God-send for room and accommodations but be prepared for your seatmates who paid for quiet and relaxation to not be understanding of a cranky baby or toddler, and it is important that your school-aged child is emotionally ready to be on their best behavior.
· For Afternoon or Evening flights, plan fun, energetic, running outdoor activities or use the airport playground to wear them out so that sitting for hours on a plane is tolerable. For morning flights, be sure a good night’s sleep was had by all.
· Eat before boarding and bring lots of backup healthy snacks for boredom and finicky eaters
· Your job is to keep your children comfortable, so be mentally prepared for no rest during the flight.
· Parent gurus suggest using the time for education or skills-building – pre-trip use a toy airplane to teach about the different parts of the plane and transfer that discussion on the real flight; discuss the security screening process if you’re flying commercial; older kids must be educated about making bomb jokes and what the consequences could be. Once the flight takes off, let a child learn how to fasten/unfasten their seatbelt, tie their shoe, or any other activity that keeps them engaged for a period of time.
· Pack a child’s essential bag to carry their technology, iPod, a DVD player with favorite movies, headphones, and some children may still enjoy old school entertainment, playing cards, crayons, and drawing paper. Also carry an extra pair of clothes, pajamas, toothbrush, and toothpaste
Want to make empathizing friends with your fellow passengers, put a little pre-apologetic note from your child(ren) with a gift of chocolate to ease the tension.
If Private Air:
· Do indulge in gourmet catering on charter services; most will have available a children’s menu
· Determine how close you can park to the plane for easy boarding of luggage
· Have you kids use the bathroom before boarding
· Dress appropriately and bring clothes for temperature changes on the plane and at your destination
· There are Private car services that collaborate with charter services that may offer baby seats that can be used on the plane for babies
3 Family Friendly Travel Destinations To Consider
As the U.S. and other countries roll out vaccination programs for their citizens, tourist destinations are enticing visitors in innovative and upscale accommodations for the entire family. Resorts, cruises, or 4 and 5-star hotels are creatively luring American dollars back as quickly as possible.
Three destinations my travel mentors have suggested to consider are…
Antiqua and Barbuda
· As of June 1, 2020, both the borders and the international airport reopened to American visitors.
· Visitors 12 years old and older are required to arrive with a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test from within seven days of their flight and monitored for up to 14 days. Testing and quarantining will be instituted if passengers cannot produce a negative test certificate (at the guests’ expense).
· The Health Ministry requires all ground transportation operators to be certified and trained in sanitation and social distancing protocols.
· Guests are only allowed to stay at certified properties (the list is regularly updated) that have been inspected and have put in place protocols to protect staff and guests prior to re-opening. The site also lists certified restaurants, excursions, yacht and catamaran companies, and other travel services to ensure everyone is following health and safety guidelines.
· Masks are required to be worn in all public areas.
· Looking for an all-inclusive resort that thoroughly accommodates children needs: Curtain Bluff, Antiqua is offering a promotional 7-day package for families to an array of amenities and programs for kids to be entertained throughout your stay with all meals and drinks, children’s activities programs, and access to water sports – motorized and non-motorized.
· As of March 9th, the U.S. Department of State in coordination with the Government of Mexico is enforcing land border crossing limited to ‘essential travel’ but doesn’t limit air, rail, or sea travel. These restrictions will be in effect through March 21, 2021. Keep in mind that the State Department rates travel to Mexico is currently at a Level 3 Advisory Level (reconsider travel) not only due to COVID-19 but increased risk of crime and kidnapping in some areas.
· Looking for an exceptional experience for your children, the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, just north of Puerto Vallarta, where guests have access to private villas and beach homes for family privacy and personalized service.
· The resort has created an immersive and remote learning vacation by offering “Knowledge for All Seasons” program that incorporates:
o An in-house tech team for 24-7 tech support and provide printers, larger monitors, portable chargers, and other school supplies
o Poolside Screen Doctor to maintain cleaning protocols for guests laptops and iPads
o Study Buddies to assist with homework and sit in on their classes to provide additional learning supervision and availability for private tutoring
o Reserving Cabanas for private work stations with ocean views and includes Wi-Fi and other tech assist accessories along with kid-friendly snacks
· Why not plan a travel destination that will incorporate learning and vacation for your children in the Eastern side of Africa particularly the country Kenya. Currently, the U.S. rates travel to Kenya at Level 3: Reconsider Travel mainly due to COVID-19 concerns.
· Travelers are allowed to enter as long as they present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of travel, temperature above 9.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and show no symptoms of the virus.
· Visitors are required to apply and obtain an e-visa before boarding an inbound aircraft to Kenya through an online service called E-visa. Mandatory wearing of masks in public remains in effect and as of November 2020 bars and restaurants had a 9 pm curfew.
· Rated as one of the top luxury resorts, Segara Resort in Kenya, as the website describes itself as “50,000 acres of Oasis Luxury” with a view of Mount Kenya. Some experiences include:
o Walking with anti-poaching tracker dogs
o Meeting East Africa’s first all-female Conservation Ranger team
o Visiting the Waterbank School named the greenest school on earth as they have designed the school as a sustainability hub, for the entire community
o A family can sleep under the stars at the Nay Palad Bird Nest
o Visit a Samburu tribe to learn
Beau Satchelle Passport Wallets
The State Department strongly suggests when carrying your passport that you make copies, one to have during your travels around the town of the destination region and one for a loved one to keep on stateside in case of an emergency. Your passport should remain locked up at your hotel to prevent theft. However, there will be times when your original passport will need to be present.
When carrying, why not select an indulgent way of housing your passport in a wallet hand-stitched in premium leather or exotic skins in an array of colors and textures. Steps in commissioning a bespoke passport wallet is just an email or call to our design department. -AJ
Share your thoughts regarding traveling abroad in the comments section below or on Twitter!
Thank you to the following sites for resource content
U.S. Department of State – Before You Go Checklist
Travel and Leisure – where Americans can travel right now
Visit Antigua and Barbuda – Travel Advisory and Antigua and Barbuda is Open
Mael Balland – children on yacht
Bruno Martins – little girl
Annie Spratt – boy with map landscape photo
Hanson Lu – catching the flight
Claude Piché – starfish
Jonathan Borba – baby waiting to fly
Hans Braxmeier – Traveling Family
Natalya Zaritskaya – Family on Beach
Nina Stock – Private jet
Hanson Lu – Window Seat