Depending on where you live, winter can feel like the longest and most drawn out season. It is for this reason that so many families take advantage of February vacation for a chance to break up the monotony of the dreary weather. Whether you are traveling to a warm and sunny destination or you have decided to embrace the winter weather with a trip to the ski slopes, there are a few things that you should know to ensure you and your family stay safe.
Tips for Traveling Abroad
You have the family packed and ready to board a flight to the sunniest overseas location that you can find, and everyone is rearing to go. This much-needed dose of sunshine will likely offer a great escape from the drab winter that you have pushed through thus far, but to ensure that you have a relaxed state of mind during your entire trip, you’ll want to prepare the following documents long before you board your flight.
Photo Identification. Your passport will have a photo on it, however; it’s important to travel with your government-issued photo ID and there is a good reason for this. If you rely on using your passport for everything, it will up the chances of it getting stolen, which could wreak havoc on your life. It’s best to use your license or a simple photo identification card when you get to your destination and the passport is no longer needed.
Passport. This government-issued document is required for travel to and from a foreign country. Keep in mind that the process of obtaining a passport can be tedious and far more difficult than you imagined. You’ll need to fill out a DS-11 application form and provide evidence of U.S. citizenship, as well as an application fee and a passport photo. Always be sure to leave plenty of time to apply for a new passport, as it could take a decent amount of time to receive it. And be sure to check the expiration date on your current passport, as there is nothing worse than planning a vacation only to find out that you have to turn around because your passport is expired.
Verification of Relationship. If you are traveling with a child, you will need to have evidence of your relationship to the child, such as a long-form birth certificate, adoption certificate, or a child travel consent letter. This is particularly important if you are not related to the child and don’t share a last name. In addition, you will need medical consent for the child, which involves a child medical consent form. This will verify you as the decision-maker when it comes to medical situations in the event of an emergency.
Travel Documents for Pets. Whether you are traveling with a support dog or a family pet, you will need to provide documentation showing that you are allowed to bring the animal with you to the particular country. Different countries have different requirements, but some examples include a proof of ownership form and a certification of rabies vaccination.
Don’t be afraid to make duplicate copies of all of your important travel documents and keep backup copies handy in case you lose one.
While documentation is crucial to international travel, communication is also key when you pack up and leave your hometown for any amount of time. In addition to keeping your friends and family members in the know of your travel plans, here are a few others that you should be notifying:
- Bank or credit card companies
- Alarm company
- Cell phone provider
If you have opted to embrace the winter with a family ski trip to a snow destination, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind, long after you book your trip. Because skiing and snowboarding are among the most dangerous sports, it’s important that you know what to do once you and the family hit the slopes.
Wear the appropriate gear. Wearing appropriate gear and wearing it correctly, will do wonders for easing your mind when your kids are speeding down the hill. Over the last several years, helmets have become increasingly popular due to a few high-profile accidents that resulted in brain damage. Because you have no control over how fast others are skiing around you, a helmet will help shield you from collisions with other skiers and inanimate objects, such as trees and poles.
Obey the Snow Sports Highway Code. Much in the same way that we have rules for driving on the road, there are ten legally binding common-sense rules that you must abide on the slopes. Developed by those who know best, the International Ski Federation came up with the following Rules of Conduct…
- Show respect for others
- Maintain control
- Choice of route (skier uphill must avoid downhill skier)
- Overtaking (leave enough room on all sides)
- Entering, starting, and moving upward (must look up and down slopes first)
- Stopping on the slopes (don’t if too narrow or get to the side)
- Climbing and descending on foot (stay to side)
- Respect for signs and markings
- Assistance (you MUST help if needed)
- Identification after an accident (Must exchange info just like after a car accident)
Sunny vacations require safety precautions as well. You’ll want to be on high alert around pools, lakes, and oceans, on a mission to keep the kiddos safe. Be cautious around the water. Whether you are on a beach or by a pool, the rules remain the same. Children should be supervised at all times. If you have young children, be sure to stay in the water with them, keeping them at an arm’s length distance or less. If your children are older, make sure there is a responsible adult paying attention to them at all times.
Here are two other things to be vigilant about during your warm-weather adventures.
Beware of the sun. I know, I know, I know!!!! You’ve heard this warning a million times... Although many of us adults don’t always heed these warning PLEASE make sure young babies and children get shielded from the direct sunlight and toddlers and babies over six months old, use a barrier sunscreen that contains titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. Science has taught us that if a child is severely burned just twice as a baby he or she is at increased risk for skin cancer. So although we all should go easy on the sun exposure, let’s make good decisions for the children we love so much.
Keep tabs on critters. The warmer weather brings with it a long list of bugs, and the majority of them bite. If you want to keep your children free of bug bites, it’s best to use an insect repellant that contains 10 percent or less of DEET, as this is the most effective and safe for little ones. With Lyme disease on the rise, it’s crucial to add a tick check to your family’s nighttime routine. Look closely at the knees, elbows, trunk, neck and behind the ears, and if you come across a tick, tweezers will come in handy for removal. After you remove the tick, place it in a bag and show your doctor. If you see a bull’s eye shaped red spot on your child, this is a telltale sign that he/she may be a victim of Lyme disease. If that rash sprouts up, be sure to call the pediatrician immediately. In the event that your child gets stung by a bee or wasp, you’ll want to place a cold pack on the spot and administer an over-the-counter pain medicine such as acetaminophen.
With some preparation and education, you will be ready to execute a family fun vacation, packed with memories.
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