Tips for traveling internationally with family

Family walking through airport

Traveling abroad can be the best bonding experience and one of the most rewarding things you can do together as a family, but without the proper planning, it can also be a logistical headache.

Whether it’s a multi-generational family trip to a tropical location or a European summer vacation with your kids, you can take much of the stress out of family travel by keeping a few things in mind when planning your international trip. 

Research your destination & set a budget

Once you’ve figured out what you want to gain from your vacation and picked where you want to go, learning more about that destination can be the most fun part of travel planning. Research what the weather is like throughout the year, talk with family and friends who have traveled there, start to identify things you want to see or do, find out what kind of transportation is available once you get there, and familiarize yourself with the customs and culture.

Your budget is another important consideration when traveling internationally. Some destinations may be tourist hotspots, which means everything from airfare to accommodations can be more expensive. You can save some money by traveling during the offseason or shoulder season, searching for flights to different airports, being flexible with your dates if schedules allow it, booking your cruise or flight during “wave season,” or looking for family-friendly all-inclusive resorts.

AAA Travel Advisors

AAA Travel Advisors can take the stress out of planning a family vacation abroad by helping you find the perfect destination, arranging everything from accommodations to transportation, providing insight into your destination, and helping you save money by finding the best time to book and member deals throughout the year. 

Learn more about AAA Travel Advisors and schedule an appointment with one

Check passport & visa requirements

Did you know that if your passport is set to expire in 6 months or less, you may not be able to fly to or from certain countries? Passport and visa requirements are different for every country, so it’s essential to check your passport expiration dates and the specific rules for your destination before you fly or set off on your cruise.

Like adults, all children—regardless of age—must have a passport to travel internationally. Renewing or getting a new passport for a child under 16 requires that both parents or guardians approve and go with the child in person to a passport acceptance facility to have it adjudicated. If one or both parents are unavailable, you must bring more documentation. Passports for children under the age of 16 are only valid for 5 years.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the current routine service for passports can take up to 12 weeks, with a 6- to 8-week processing time and up to an additional 4 weeks for mailing. Anyone in your family who needs to apply for or renew a passport should do so far in advance of your travel dates to ensure the passport arrives in time. AAA members can also make sure their passport photos meet the strict guidelines and get a discount on a set of 2 at AAA branches.


Make sure your passport application is correct and complete, don’t be one of the 30% of the applicants whose passports are delayed due to mistakes. AAA members save 10% on professional, expedited passport and visa services with RushMyPassport.1

Learn more about RushMyPassport and start your application today

Create an itinerary

A big part of planning a successful family vacation is considering everyone’s needs, and finding activities that can be fulfilling and fun for each person is as important as finding the right destination. Depending on how long your vacation is and how many people are in your group, there may be some compromise on what you see and do each day, but creating an itinerary can help ensure that everyone gets to do things that are important to them.

If you’re traveling with young children, finding things to do that will appeal to them will keep them engaged and greatly reduce the risk of any meltdowns. With an itinerary planned, it’ll be easier to let your kids in on what you’ll be doing each day, as well as block off time for rest and meals. Not every activity has to be kid-friendly, but an itinerary can also help you plan for days when an adult can stay with the children. If you're staying at a resort or taking a cruise, check to see if there are babysitting or childcare services available, like kid's clubs, which will also allow free time for parents and grandparents.

While being prepared is great, remember to also stay flexible because not everything will go exactly according to plan. If your schedule is interrupted by bad weather or something unexpected, find a workable alternative and stay open to a new activity or experience. 

Make sure everyone is healthy enough to travel

One of the worst feelings is investing time and money in planning a vacation and then being sick on your trip. A way to help you stay healthy is to make sure everyone is up-to-date on routine vaccines and check the recommended immunizations for your destination from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most U.S. health insurance policies won't cover you in another country, so if you get sick or injured while on vacation, travel insurance can reimburse you for care after a covered medical emergency.

Allianz Travel Insurance

In addition to covered medical emergencies, Allianz Travel Insurance plans from AAA can also help you protect your trip against other unforeseen events like trip cancellation or interruption, lost baggage, travel delays, and more.2 Plus, kids 17 and under can be included as an insured on their parent’s, grandparent’s, or legal guardian’s plan at no added cost.3

Learn more and get a travel insurance quote from Allianz

Pack smart

Packing for an international vacation for the entire family can become unwieldy and expensive. Even if you’re not concerned with bag fees, checking a piece of luggage for each person in the family can significantly slow you down at the airport. While it may be tempting to load up on toys to keep your kids occupied or overpack to prepare for any situation, remember that your family may also be lugging around their suitcases on cars, trains, and buses while traveling around the destination.

Prepare for your long trip

Getting through airport checkpoint screenings can take hours for a single traveler, but with a whole family, you’re guaranteed some waiting before everyone in your group can make it through security.

Enrolling in TSA PreCheck may provide a smoother airport experience for your entire family with dedicated screening lines at more than 200 airports and no need to remove your laptop, shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, belts, or light jackets. TSA Precheck is also ideal for families traveling with young children as kids 17 and younger can access the same expedited lanes for free as long as they're accompanied by a parent or guardian who is enrolled.

Global Entry is a program that lets eligible travelers access expedited entry lines upon their return which can greatly reduce wait times. If you’re flying internationally more than 4 times a year, Global Entry may be a better option as TSA PreCheck benefits are also included with enrollment.

Get your kids ready for the long flight with things that can keep them occupied for long periods like books, snacks, sticker books, and a tablet or phone loaded with games and content. You may also be able to stream your favorite TV shows and movies with DIRECTV if Wi-Fi is available on your flight. 

RELATED: 5 ways to save time at the airport gate


DIRECTV is journey-ready—watch on streaming devices while on Wi-Fi via the DIRECTV app.4

Learn more about AAA's DIRECTV offer

Figure out how you’ll get around your destination

Understanding the transportation options at your destination before you leave is essential to reducing your stress while you’re on vacation. Researching how you’ll get around will help you figure out what type of transportation will be the most efficient for your family. For example, while it may make sense for a couple on vacation to walk and take public transportation, if you’re a family traveling with young children and grandparents, renting a vehicle may be the best option.

If you plan to drive while you’re overseas, you should get an International Driving Permit (IDP) since some countries may not recognize your U.S. driver’s license and an IDP may be required to rent a vehicle.

Stay connected

Being able to reach everyone in your group while abroad is important, especially if family members plan to break off for separate activities or if you have scheduled alone time in your itinerary. Having a smartphone that works internationally is also key for staying in touch with people back home, capturing memories, navigation, and even translation.

If you want to use the smartphone you carry every day while you’re abroad, make sure it can still get voice, text, and data internationally and then sign up for an international roaming plan. For example, T-Mobile offers up to 5GB of high-speed data5 in more than 215 countries and destinations on a Go5G Plus or Go5G Next plan.


Switch to T-Mobile to take advantage of select plans that include international data, plus the option to easily add more high-speed data with an International Pass. Members get up to $2006 when they switch to T-Mobile and bring existing phone numbers to a new account.  

Learn more about AAA's T-Mobile offer

Let a AAA Travel Advisor help you plan your international family vacation

Whether your next vacation abroad includes multiple generations or just your immediate family, a knowledgeable AAA Travel Advisor can help with everything from creating a family itinerary, researching transportation options, and finding member deals to help save you money.

Travel offers & deals

" "

Hot travel deals

Get the latest offers from AAA Travel’s preferred partners.

" "

Travel with AAA

See how we can help you plan, book, and save on your next vacation.

" "

Entertainment savings

Save big with AAA discounts on tickets to your next adventure.

" "

Travel with confidence

Purchase travel insurance with Allianz Global Assistance.

back to top icon