Traveling to Japan for the First Time | Japan

Few destinations around the world draw the kind of inspiration and amazement Japan does. With a seemingly endless supply of cultural traditions, neon lights, and sights to experience, the Land of the Rising Sun remains one of the most coveted travel destinations.

Traveling to Japan for the first time will demand a good deal of research and planning to understand and embrace all it has to offer. Read on to learn about the country’s history and cultural traditions that make it the nation it is today, as well as practical information for planning your first trip to this wondrous destination.


Overview of Japanese Culture

Japanese culture is vastly different from most Western cultures, so you’ll likely experience some degree of a culture shock when you visit Japan for the first time. Here are some helpful insights to mitigate the effects of culture shock you feel while visiting Japan.


How to Perform a Basic Greeting

Greetings are important in Japanese culture. Bowing is the main greeting in Japan. Perform a basic bow by bending from the waist with your back and neck straight and your eyes looking down.

Men: Keep your hands at your sides.

Women: Clasp your hands at your sides.

Most people will recognize that you are a foreigner and you may not know the proper way to bow. As a tourist in Japan for the first time, a nod of the head is sufficient. Business travelers to Japan, however, should practice their bowing technique.


What to Expect Inside a Japanese Home

Being invited to a Japanese home is an honor. The Japanese people make a clear distinction between inside and outside, so you should remove your shoes at the entrance area (called the genkan) and replace them with slippers. These rules also apply to most traditional ryokan (Japanese-style inns) and sections of temples, castles, or other historic buildings.

Bare feet are not acceptable. You must wear socks or a pair of indoor slippers.


NOTE: You may be provided with a separate pair of slippers to use when you go to the bathroom inside someone's home.


Dining Etiquette in Japan

Most restaurants in Japan have low tables and cushions on a tatami floor (and/or Western-style chairs and tables). Just as you remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, you are expected to remove your shoes before stepping onto a tatami.

You’ll be provided with a wet towel to clean your hands at the beginning of your meal. Bring small bowls close to your mouth when eating but keep larger dishes on the table. Just as you wouldn’t serve yourself with your own fork, use the opposite end of your chopsticks or designated serving chopsticks to choose food from a shared dish.

At the end of your meal, replace the lids on dishes and put your chopsticks back on the chopstick rest or in their paper holder.

You'll bring your bill up to the cashier to pay at most restaurants in Japan, and you'll most likely need to pay cash.


A Quick Lesson in Using Chopsticks

Chopsticks alone can make any seasoned traveler wary of meals. But you should be fine if you follow these tips:

  • Hold the upper chopstick like a pencil, leaving about one-third of the chopstick to the right of your fingers.
  • Place the second chopstick against your ring finger and hold it with your thumb. Make sure it points in the same direction as the first chopstick.
  • Use your thumb, index finger, and middle finger to move the upper chopstick.

Keep these no-no's in mind:

  • Do not stick chopsticks into your food or spear your food with them.
  • Do not point with your chopsticks.
  • Do not play with your chopsticks.


What to Expect from Bathrooms in Japan

We’ve all seen a T.V. show or movie where an unexpecting guest is tormented by the novelties of a Japanese toilet. Many Western toilets in Japan have unique features such as a heated seat or an automatic lid opener, but they’re far less complicated to understand than pop culture makes them out to be.

You’ll find two types of toilets when traveling in Japan: Japanese style and Western-style. Public bathrooms are usually equipped with both. Keep in mind that toilet paper is not always provided in public bathrooms.

Both Western and Japanese style toilets usually have two flush modes: "small" () and "large" (), differing in the amount of water used. Look for these symbols to avoid ending up like your favorite sitcom character.

If you're a Japan toilet enthusiast, visit the Toto Museum in Kitakyushu. The museum is dedicated to the history of toilets!


Proper Etiquette at Japanese Temples and Shrines

As a first-time visitor to Japan, you may have several temples and shrines on your itinerary. It's important to behave properly when visiting these ancient relics. Temples and shrines in Japan are places for reflection, meditation, and prayer, so be sure to behave in a calm and respectful manner. Note that you should not visit a shrine if you are sick or in mourning.

When you arrive at a temple in Japan, show your respect by saying a short prayer in front of the sacred object and by throwing a coin into the offering box. You may be asked to take off your shoes when entering temple buildings, so remember to wear clean socks.


Most shrines in Japan have a purification fountain near the entrance. Fill one of the ladles provided and rinse both your hands. Do not transfer any of the water directly from the fountain to your person, and do not return any water in the ladle back into the fountain.

To make an offering at a shrine, place a coin in the offering box, bow twice, clap your hands twice, bow again, and pray.

Pictures are normally allowed on the grounds of temples and shrines but forbidden inside the buildings. Be respectful of signs.


How To Travel to Japan Without Knowing Japanese

Traveling to any country without knowing the language is difficult. Learning some commonly-used phrase before you travel to Japan will make navigating this country a little bit easier.

Here are some common Japanese phrases you may use or hear on your first trip to Japan:

  • Good morning – Ohayou gozaimasu (formal); Ohyayou (informal)
  • Hello – Konnichiwa
  • Good evening – Konbanwa
  • Good night – Oyasuminasai
  • Thank you – Arigatou gozaimasu (formal); Arigatou (informal)
  • My name is [name] – Watashi no namae wa [name] desu
  • This is my [wife/husband/child(ren)/parents/relative/friend/boyfriend/girlfriend] – Watashi no [tsuma/otto/kodomo/oya/shinseki/tomodachi/kareshi/kanojyo] desu
  • Taxi – takushi
  • I want to go to [location] – [location] e ikitai desu
  • Where is [location] – [location] wa doko desuka
  • Up – Ue
  • Down – Shita
  • Right – Migi
  • Left – Hidari
  • May I have [item] – [item] wo kudasai
  • How much is it? – ikura desuka
  • Do you have Wi-Fi? – Wi-Fi arimasuka
  • I don’t feel well – Guai ga warui desu

Download the introductory Japanese course for English speakers on Duolingo a few weeks before your trip to help you learn phonetic pronunciations and gain a more robust vocabulary.


PRO TIP: Any attempt to communicate in Japanese will go a long way with the Japanese people. The Japanese are known for omotenashi, which translates into “selfless hospitality.”


Japanese Currency and Exchange Rates

Japan is considered a cash-based society even though most stores, restaurants, and hotels in major cities accept major credit cards. It is prudent to always carry a few thousand Japanese yen (abbreviated JPY or JP¥) just in case.

You can buy Japanese currency at physical or digital exchanges. Banks, post offices, and some hotels in Japan handle currency exchanges. Avoid airport-based exchanges – rates tend to be worse there than elsewhere. You can also make ATM withdrawals with foreign cards at over 10,000 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country.

Travelex offers a search feature to find the nearest store where you can buy Japanese currency. It also offers the option of purchasing yen online.

*Current Exchange Rate in 2024:

  • $1 USD = about ¥156.91 JPY
  • €1 EUR = about ¥170.24 JPY

*As of publish date.

Japan’s currency tends to fluctuate a bit, but you can use this currency converter to see how much you’re spending.


How Much Does It Cost To Go to Japan for a Week?

A one-week trip to Japan will allow you to explore the country without racking up crazy expenses. Assuming you keep your spending low, this is what your week in Japan could look like:

  • Roundtrip international air ticket (Narita Airport) = $750 USD
  • Shuttle bus (Narita Airport to Tokyo Station) = $9 USD
  • Hostel in Tokyo: $50 USD/night x 3 days = $150 USD
  • Hostel in Kyoto: $25 USD/night x 2 days = $50 USD
  • Hostel in Osaka: $25 USD/night x 2 days = $50 USD
  • Japan Railway Pass = $270 USD
  • Food budget: $30 USD/day x 7 days = $210
  • Drinks and other expenditures (souvenirs, experiences, etc.): $25 USD/day x 7 days = $175
  • Travel medical insurance = $19.92 USD*

This example of a 7-night, 8-day trip to Japan adds up to a little under $1,700 USD. Not too bad for such an exciting destination!


PRO TIP: Air China consistently offers the best fares for visiting Japan on a whim. Roundtrip flights from the city of Los Angeles can be as little as $600 USD.

*This travel medical insurance cost example is for a 35-year-old traveling to Japan for 8 days with a $0 deductible and a $2 million maximum limit under the Atlas Travel policy from WorldTrips. This policy ranges from $0.50 - $9.67 per day for coverage outside the U.S. in 2023. The per-day cost for a trip to Japan depends on your age and the deductible and overall maximum limit you choose.


Japan Visa Requirements and Travel Vaccinations

An important part of planning your first trip to Japan is ensuring you have the proper documentation to enter the country.

U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter Japan. A valid passport and onward/return tickets will allow you entry into the country for stays of up to 90 days.


NOT A U.S. CITIZEN? See our Japan visa page to determine whether or not you need a visa to travel to Japan. Plus, see visa requirements!


There are currency restrictions when traveling in Japan. Amounts equivalent or superior to ¥1 million JPY or above (roughly $9,100 USD) are subject to declaration upon arrival and/or departure.

Please note the visa exemption arrangement does not apply to:

  • News and media-related activities
  • Citizens attending depositions taken by U.S. Consul
  • S. federal government employees on official business or transit to/from official mission

Japan does not require any vaccinations for U.S. citizens to enter the country. Malaria has been eradicated from the tropical areas of the country since 1961.


The Best Time of Year To Visit Japan

The islands that comprise Japan witness a variety of climates. The best time to visit Japan will be decided by what you wish to do and see while in the country.

As a first-time traveler to Japan, spring may be the best time to visit. The popular destinations of Tokyo and Hiroshima enjoy temperate climates, so fall and spring are pleasant times to visit.

Cherry blossom season is in April and is a must-see event on many first-time traveler’s bucket lists. Accommodations may be more expensive, but cherry blossom season gives visitors to Japan an authentic glimpse into Japanese tradition and culture.

May-August is the best time to visit Japan if you’re traveling on a budget. Temperatures rise in the summer, but hotel prices drop. The natural beauty of the many forests and gardens truly comes to life in the summer months. Be wary of typhoon season, however, if you plan to visit Okinawa during the summer.

The island of Hokkaido is a great destination for winter travelers to Japan. The mountains of Hokkaido enjoy robust amounts of snowfall, attracting local and foreign tourists alike to its mountain resorts and traditional onsen (Japanese hot springs).


Choosing Where To Travel in Japan

Japan is divided into four main islands:

  • Hokkaido
  • Honshu (further divided into Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kinki/Kansai, and Chugoku)
  • Shikoku
  • Kyushu (which includes Okinawa)



Hokkaido is the second-largest and northernmost of Japan’s four main islands. It is popular for its winter temperatures and a plethora of snow resorts.

The largest city on the island of Hokkaido is Sapporo.



The largest island in Japan, Honshu is home to five regions:

  • Tohoku – Located in the northern area of Honshu, Tohoku is known for its beautiful countryside, mountains, lakes, and onsen (hot springs). Tohoku was hit by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent Fukushima nuclear accident, but the area has mostly recovered. Sendai is the largest city in the Tohoku region.

  • Kanto – Translated literally to “east of the border,” Kanto is perhaps most famous for being home to the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama.

  • Chubu – Chubu is best known as the home of Mt. Fuji. This Japanese region borders the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan and houses popular destinations like Nagoya and Niigata.

  • Kansai – The political and cultural center of Japan for centuries, the Kansai region includes the major cities and tourist destinations of Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and Kobe.

  • Chugoku – Chugoku makes up the western part of Honshu and is commonly subdivided into the urban/industrial area of Sanyo and the rural area of Sanin. You’ll find Hiroshima and Miyajima in the Chugoku region.


Shikoku, which translates to “four countries,” is Japan’s fourth-largest island. It is divided into four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kōchi, and Tokushima.

Unlike the other three main islands of Japan, Shikoku has no volcanoes.



Kyushu is Japan’s third-largest island. Kyushu was an early center of Japanese civilization and offers visitors natural beauty and many historical treasures.

Kyushu is home to several onsen, the city of Nagasaki, and the islands of Okinawa.


How To Get to Japan

Japan has four major international airports:

  • Narita Airport – Located in Tokyo
  • Haneda Airport – Located in Tokyo
  • Kansai Airport – Located in Osaka
  • Central Japan Airport – Located in Nagoya

Direct flights are available to Tokyo from major west coast American cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. Flights with one stop (often in Hong Kong, China) also connect the U.S. with important Japanese cities, such as Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagoya, and Sapporo.

Many European and Asian destinations also offer direct flights to Japan. For example, travelers from the U.K. can get a direct flight on British Airways from London Heathrow to Narita Airport in Tokyo.


Where To Stay in Japan

Luxury, budget, and tradition-seeking travelers alike can find accommodation in Japan that meets their needs. Finding the right place to stay will depend on your wishes and expectations.

Those looking for immersive experiences should look at Airbnb lodgings and ryokan (traditional Japanese guesthouses). If comfort is most important, find solace at a luxury hotel. And for budget travelers, there are tons of hostels available.

Take a peek at some of the top-ranked accommodations throughout Japan:


Top Accommodations in Tokyo:

This hotel has a 5-star rating based on 114 reviews on TripAdvisor. Founded in 1899, this hotel embodies Japanese tranquility with its simplistic décor. Walk a couple of blocks north to see the Kanda River or access the Ochanomizu train station.

At $66 USD per night – and with a 4-star rating on TripAdvisor – this Tokyo hotel is a steal. Located in the trendy area of Ginza, this downtown hotel allows guests to experience the vitality of Japanese nightlife.

Experience Japanese tradition and stay close to main tourist attractions like the Imperial Palace in this traditional Japanese inn.

Planning to visit Tokyo? Explore our Tokyo City Guide.


Top Accommodations in Sapporo:

This luxury hotel outside Sapporo is a true spa lover's dream. Discover traditional Japanese onsen and various spa treatments in this mountainous resort.

Get easy access to the many ski resorts in Sapporo at this mid-range hotel. Each room comes equipped with complimentary internet access – a steal for $100 USD/night.

A bit on the pricier side, this traditional ryokan offers guests a luxury Japanese experience in the mountains of Hokkaido. Take a dip in the hotel onsen or enjoy the culinary delicacies included in your accommodation package. No wonder it has a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor!

Visiting Sapporo? Explore our Sapporo City Guide.


Top Accommodations in Kyoto:

First-class service and beautiful rooms earned this luxury hotel 825 reviews and a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. Hotel Mume also has a prime location close to several shrines and temples in Kyoto.

Only a three-minute walk from Gojo Station and the Karasuma subway line, this budget hotel offers easy access to downtown Kyoto. Rooms may be small at this chain hotel, but they’re packed with features ideal for budget travelers, including breakfast and free nationwide phone calls.

Recognized as one of the best ryokan in all of Japan, this traditional inn located in downtown Kyoto understands the importance of details. Rooms are sparsely decorated in true Japanese fashion, each one has a private garden attached, and the staff is incredibly knowledgeable.


Transportation Within Japan

Japan is home to an impressive network of roads, railroad tracks, ferries, and air routes connecting the entire territory.

To get between islands, you’ll most likely have to take a short flight or ferry. In-country flights are both readily available and frequent between the nation’s main cities.

Key hubs include:

  • Narita International Airport (NRT, Tokyo)
  • Haneda Airport (HND, Tokyo)
  • Kansai International Airport (KIX, Osaka)
  • Chubu International Airport (NGO, Nagoya)
  • Fukuoka Airport (FUK, Fukuoka)

Japan is heralded for its extensive rail network. Purchase a Japan Rail Pass for easy travel throughout any of the four main islands. It comes at a hefty price – $264 USD – but its ease of use and availability are well worth the cost.


What To See and Do in Japan

Japan is a land of attractions – the country has endless amounts of historical sites, acres of pristine forests, and a variety of vibrant cities to explore.

Here are some of the top tourist sites in Japan:

Top Tourist Sites in Tokyo

  • Imperial Palace: The main residence of the Emperor of Japan is located in central Tokyo, a short walk away from the city’s Central Station. Buildings are not open to the public, but the gardens make the visit a true delight.

  • Tsukiji Outer Market: This large seafood and produce market has hundreds of colorful stalls and restaurants. It is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.

  • Tsukishima: This is a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. Travelers from all over the world come here searching for tsukudani - a kind of preserved topping that is served with rice - and monjayaki, a pancake-like dish that is popular in Japan.

  • Shibuya: This popular entertainment area is packed with flashy neon signs, restaurants, and shops. It’s easily accessible through Shibuya Station.

  • Meiji Jingu Shrine: Dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken, the Meiji Shrine sits in a 170-acre forest area in Shibuya. It is one of Tokyo’s most visited attractions. The shrine is in close proximity to Harajuku, Tokyo’s hotspot for youth and cosplay.


Top Tourist Sites in Kyoto

  • Imperial Palace: This palace is the former residence of Japan’s Imperial family. Visitors can freely enter the palace grounds, but buildings are off-limits.

  • Railway Museum: Japan is a railway powerhouse, and this museum concentrates its history like no other. It’s well worth the ¥1,200 JPY ($10.92 USD) price tag.


Top Tourist Sites in Osaka

  • Osaka Castle: One of the most iconic buildings in Japan, Osaka Castle is a towering structure evocative of a different era in Japanese history.

  • Nijo Castle: Recognized as one of the surviving buildings of Japan’s feudal era, Nijo Castle features a number of perfectly conserved buildings and beautiful gardens. Visiting the castle is an immersive experience in to Japan’s history and a must-see for anyone visiting Osaka.

Discover more things to see and do in Osaka with our Osaka City Guide!


Top Tourist Sites in Hiroshima

  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park: The park’s Atomic Bomb Dome was the only structure left standing following the atomic bombing in 1945. For many visitors to Japan, the museum and its grounds are powerful places for reflection.
  • Miyajima Island: This island is home to the Itsukushima shrine, also referred to as the “floating shrine.” One of the largest torii (traditional Japanese gate) in Japan, the Itsukushima shrine is a relic of Shinto-era Japan.

Read our Japan 14-day itinerary for even more help planning your first trip to Japan.

Japanese Cuisine

Japanese cuisine mainly consists of white rice, fish or beef, and vegetables often pickled or served in broth. Common dishes and preparations are sushi, udon noodles, miso soup, tempura, and grilled fish.

In addition to traditional cuisine, Japan offers innovation and diversity in fast food, coffee, and craft beer. Western food is available, but usually at a higher price.


Where To Eat in Japan

You can find food in a variety of places in Japan. Of course, restaurants are popular – and world-class in Japan – but the nation is also known for the high-quality food available in convenience stores and vending machines.

Sushi, ramen, and fast food options at small restaurants and street stalls start at $8 - $10 USD per serving, whereas nicer dinners are a bit pricier, starting at $20 - $25 USD.

Read through Eater’s list of essential Tokyo restaurants for a full guide to popular restaurants in Tokyo.

First-time visitors to supermarkets in Japan will notice it is much cheaper to purchase food at the market than to eat elsewhere, making Japan’s markets a great dining option for budget travelers.

Fast food is also a great option for an inexpensive meal and an authentic culinary experience. In fact, fast food is other-worldly for any first-time visitor to Japan. The nation puts its own spin on typical fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King, adding the Japanese flavor profile to American dishes.

For example, McDonald’s Japanese menu heavily features shrimp, and classics like the Big Mac are elevated with the addition of bacon and egg. Burger King takes the sweet and savory approach, adding flame-grilled apple slices to the traditional Whopper Jr.


Know Before You Go: Japanese History, Culture, and Traditions

A large part of Japan’s cultural identity today is based on its history. On your first trip to Japan, you’ll find remnants and symbols of this country’s past in most of its historical sites.

Japan’s history can be traced back to the year 660 BCE. During the course of the following centuries, the nation experienced periods of feudalism, expansionism, and war, each leaving its mark on the burgeoning country.

Unification is a hallmark of Japanese society. During the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the government attempted to create a strong, centralized state with a singular national identity. Over the years, the cherry blossom, Japanese flag/rising sun, and Chrysanthemum flower have become powerful representations of Japanese identity.

Following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Japanese culture changed. Economic growth and social stability became national priorities, resulting in a modernized society where ordinary people can experience middle-class urban lifestyles. In the 1980s Japan experienced unprecedented prosperity, catapulting it to superpower status.

In modern-day Japanese culture, local and regional identity is celebrated. Almost every town or city is famous for something, like a specific craft, culinary specialty, or song.


WorldTrips international travel medical insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. WorldTrips is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. WorldTrips has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency, Ltd.

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Once you’ve determined how to keep them occupied, refer to the packing list for a toddler road trip to determine what else you will need, like clothing, diapers, wipes, snacks, toiletries, a car seat, a stroller, a pack and play, and more. Is your 1-year-old teething? Keep a few ice packs on hand in a cooler for them to bite down on. Keep some drinks on hand, too (for them and you). Everything you need when traveling with a 1-year-old by car can quickly fill a suitcase or two, but keeping them from being irritated or getting an upset stomach from so much driving can make all the difference. What to Pack When Traveling With a Toddler on a Plane Knowing what to pack when traveling with a toddler on a plane can be tricky, whether it’s domestic travel or international travel. Use this airplane packing list for toddler travel to help you: Extra change of clothes or two Diapers or pull-up diapers Baby wipes Child restraint system (more on this below) Medicine for tummy aches and earaches First aid kit Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes Snacks and water Sippy cups Books, coloring books, and crayons iPad or tablet and headphones Neck pillow and small blanket Sleep masks and ear plugs Passport or copy of birth certificate (may be required to prove your child is under 2 years old if they are flying for free on your lap) If you are traveling internationally, you will need other important documents as well, which could include: Passport and/or visa Any required COVID-19-related documents, such as vaccine cards, COVID-19 test results, proof of travel health insurance, completed health forms, etc. If traveling alone with your toddler, a notarized letter from your child’s other parent giving you permission to take them out of the country Can a Child Have a Carry-On? Yes! Airlines understand packing for a toddler can be a chore. They need their own things, their own space, and have their own minds. Make sure you bring snacks, sips, toys, games, a tablet for movies, extra wipes, diapers, and their car seat. You may also need to bring a face mask for your child depending on how old they are. Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to the flight attendants for assistance. They can heat up a bottle or provide napkins for spills and help make things a little easier for you. Tips for Traveling With a Small Child on a Plane Traveling with a 1-year-old by plane is difficult enough, but traveling with an older toddler has its own set of challenges. Here are some tips to note when traveling with your toddler by plane: Book an aisle seat. Your toddler will want to get out and roam when they can. An aisle seat can be a lifesaver for you. Don’t board the plane first. You don’t want to try and calm a cranky toddler after they’ve waited for everyone else to board. Use a child restraint system (CRS) to keep your child safe. If you bring your car seat as a carry-on item, it may be able to double as your CRS. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, this is the safest place for a child on an airplane. “Your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence,” the administration notes. Make sure your CRS is both government and airplane approved, as not all car seats are approved for airplane use. Look for text printed on your car seat that reads “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” You can learn how to install a CRS on an airplane here. If you’re traveling to a new time zone, be prepared to fight jet lag. Slowly begin shifting your children’s sleeping and eating schedules to coincide with those in your destination. Begin at least four days before departure. Book an overnight flight, if possible. Or pack sleep masks, ear plugs, or noise-canceling headphones for a daytime flight. Also fight the dehydration that can exacerbate jet lag symptoms by encouraging your children to drink lots of water aboard the flight. You can learn more about combating jet lag here. Be prepared to fight ear pain. Ear pain on airplanes is brought on by rapidly changing air pressure. Unfortunately, kids frequently experience this discomfort upon takeoff and descent. KidsHealth recommends providing a child-safe pain reliever to your children 30-60 minutes before takeoff to help ease the pain. Encourage them to swallow, yawn, or chew gum or chewy candy to help their ears adjust. Nursing or sucking on a bottle can help infants. Disinfect everything. Infectious bacteria can linger in environments like airplanes, where groups of people are crowded together in a tight space. Use disinfecting wipes to wipe down seat-back pockets, tray tables, armrests, and seatbelt buckles and clean tray tables before allowing kids to eat off of them. Bring 2 extra outfits on the plane with you in case of vomiting or accidents. You’ll be thankful you did. Make sure all your devices are on full charge. Some airlines don’t have charging outlets on the plane. You can also bring a portable charger to recharge your devices anywhere. Become friends with the flight attendants. They can assist you in ways you’ve never imagined. For more tips on flying with a toddler, read “Tips for Flying With Kids.” Traveling Internationally With a Toddler Traveling with a 1-year-old internationally has its own set of challenges. In addition to packing everything you need for travel (see the “what to pack when traveling with a toddler on a plane” checklist above), you’ll need to organize all the paperwork required to enter and exit the visiting country and return to your home country. Documents Required for International Travel Start early – apply for your child’s passport or visa, leaving enough time for the paperwork to be processed and returned. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can see current passport processing times here. If you’re traveling alone, you may also be required to have a notarized letter from your child’s other parent giving you permission to take them out of the country. Additional Documentation Related to COVID-19 Traveling with a toddler on a plane during COVID can mean additional documentation and restrictions. Your destination country—and return to your home country—may require vaccines, COVID-19 testing prior to travel, travel health insurance, health forms that must be completed, and more. Travel restrictions are frequently changing, so be sure to view your destination’s requirements prior to booking and prior to your departure. This interactive travel restrictions map from Kayak can assist you. PRO TIP! Visit your destination country’s consulate or embassy website to learn more about what your toddler may need to travel internationally. Also read “How to Safely Travel Abroad With Young Children” for advice from the top family bloggers. Consider Whether You Should Purchase Travel Insurance for Your International Trip You’ll also want to consider whether you need travel medical insurance or trip cancellation insurance for your trip abroad. Your regular health insurance may provide limited or no coverage once you leave your home country. Travel insurance can provide you with coverage for unexpected medical expenses (like injury or illness) as well as reimbursement for travel-related expenses (like a travel delay or lost checked luggage). Depending on the plan you choose, this insurance may include coverage for COVID-19-related expenses. Travel medical insurance can offer medical benefits with higher coverage limits than trip cancellation insurance. Travel medical insurance is known for being budget friendly—especially for travel outside the U.S. You can read about our Atlas Travel plan here. Trip cancellation insurance includes a Trip Cancellation benefit that can reimburse you for prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs if you cancel your trip for a reason that’s covered by the insurance. Our Atlas Journey plans even allow you to add a Trip Cancellation for Any Reason (CFAR) benefit if you purchase your plan within 21 days of your first trip payment. This benefit upgrade allows you to cancel your trip for a reason not already covered by your policy, like concern over an increasing number of COVID-19 infections in your destination. You can learn more about our Atlas Journey plans here. KHE2FFFYH6SP-971744701-1073 WorldTrips is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel Series and StudentSecure international travel medical insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. WorldTrips has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency, Ltd. WorldTrips' Atlas Journey, Atlas Cruiser, and Atlas On-The-Go trip protection insurance products are underwritten by Tokio Marine HCC's U.S. Specialty Insurance Company (USSIC). USSIC is a Texas-domiciled insurance company operating on an admitted basis throughout the United States. Coverage is available to U.S. residents of the U.S. states and District of Columbia only. This plan provides insurance coverage that only applies during the covered trip. You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home, and automobile insurance policies. Coverage may not be available in all states. In the State of California, operating as WorldTrips Insurance Services. California Non-Resident Producer License Number: 0G39705
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Ultimate Guide to Safe and Healthy Family Travel
There are three key considerations for most parents who are planning a family trip abroad: (a) keeping your family safe, (b) keeping them healthy, and (c) sticking to your budget. This Ultimate Guide to Safe and Healthy Family Travel compiles the best tips and resources from around the web – all in one place. Scan the “Jump Ahead” section below for an overview of the topics covered in the guide. Or click to skip ahead to a specific section. Happy reading! 1. How to Choose a Safe Family Destination As a parent of young kids, you’re constantly aware of the potential dangers all around you. But when you travel abroad with your children, you don’t want to be constantly on guard. You want to unwind, spend time with the ones you love, and soak up each unique experience. You can make this dream a reality by choosing the right destination for your family. Keep reading to discover how to create a list of top contenders. Then use the questions and resources below to assess their health and safety risks and determine the ideal vacation spot for you and your kids. Step #1: Make a List of Potential Destinations Write down all the international destinations you’ve always wanted to visit with your family. If you don’t have specific places in mind or you want to add to your list, explore the following safe travel resources: Resource #1: “Top 20 Safe Travel Destinations (And How to Travel Them as a Family)” This list highlights 20 of the safest travel destinations in the world, according to reports like the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report (2017). Resource #2: The Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Safe Cities Index” This report ranks 60 international cities according to “safety indicators” like digital security, health security, infrastructure security, and personal security. According to the report, the five safest cities in 2017 were: Tokyo, Japan Singapore Osaka, Japan Toronto, Canada Melbourne, Australia Step #2: Assess the Potential Risks and Choose a Destination Use the following tips and resources to assess your health and safety risks and determine the safest travel destination for your family. As you evaluate potential destinations, be sure to ask the following health and safety questions: Questions to Ask About Your Destination Health Questions: Safety Questions: Is there a high risk of food poisoning or water contamination? Is there a travel advisory? Is there a high risk of malaria or other diseases? Have there been negative stories in the news lately? What is medical care like? Is there a reputation for pickpocketing, bag snatching, and other petty theft? How close is the nearest hospital or emergency health facility? Is there a reputation for violent crime? Does our domestic health plan cover us abroad? Is there a high risk of being scammed by a tour company, taxi driver, etc.? Will it be difficult to find a doctor who speaks English? Is there a high risk of a natural disaster? Did You Know? Your travel medical insurance can help you find high-quality, English-speaking medical providers! Tips and Resources Tip #1: Check Travel Advisories at Travel.State.Gov Head over to the “Travel Advisories” page at Scroll down and use the “Filter Travel Advisories” box to easily search for the countries on your list. When the country’s name pops up, click the link to view the country’s travel advisory page. This page will provide a detailed explanation of travel advisories for levels 2, 3, or 4. Travel advisory levels are as follows: Exercise Normal Precautions Exercise Increased Caution – Heightened risks to safety and security Reconsider Travel – Serious risks to safety and security Do Not Travel – Life-threatening risks NOTE: Some travel medical insurance benefits may not apply if your destination country is under a level 3 or higher travel advisory on the start date of your trip, or if your destination country has been under a level 3 or higher advisory in the 60 days prior to your trip. PRO TIP: Join the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided to U.S. citizens by the U.S. Department of State. It allows you to enroll your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Benefits include: The U.S. Embassy will provide you with important, real-time updates about the safety conditions in your destination country The U.S. Embassy will contact you in case a natural disaster occurs, or civil unrest breaks out in your destination country Friends and family can easily contact you in an emergency Tip #2: Visit the “Country Information” Pages at Travel.State.Gov The first search bar you’ll see on the “Travel Advisories” page at is labeled “Learn About Your Destination.” Enter the name of a country you’d like to explore. Then click the search icon. This will take you to a country profile page. At the top of that screen, note the travel advisory level, the reason for the advisory, and the issue date. Click the “Read More” link to see additional information. Review any recent Embassy alerts directly below the travel advisory section. Scroll down to the tabs below the “Quick Facts” section. The “Health” tab is one of the best resources available for general health information on a specific country. It provides information on a country’s water quality, the standard of care in local health facilities, and prevalent diseases. Also read through the information in the “Safety and Security” and “Local Laws & Special Circumstances” tabs. Program the local emergency phone numbers from the “Safety and Security” tab into your phone for easy access. Bookmark the “Country Information” pages of any destinations you’re still interested in visiting so you can easily return to them later. Tip #3: Use Google to Find Recent News Reports Do a quick Google search for the phrase “Is it safe to travel in [destination + year]?” This query will turn up relevant news reports on recent crime and health hazards in your potential destination. Be sure to check the date on any articles you read – only those from the past few months will still be relevant. Tip #4: Check Out the World Health Organization (WHO) Website Select a potential destination country from the alphabetized list to view its country profile. You’ll find relevant statistics, news stories, and information about diseases pertinent to that country. Tip #5: Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website On the CDC’s “Destinations” page, use the drop-down menu under “for travelers” to select a potential destination. Check the “traveling with children” box and any others relevant to your trip. Then hit “go.” You’ll then land on the “Travelers’ Health” page for the country, complete with travel health notices, vaccine and medical information, tips for staying safe and healthy, and even a healthy travel packing list. For an overview of the healthcare system in some of the most popular international destinations for families, see “What to Expect from Healthcare Abroad.” Tip #6: Visit Travel Forums for Tips and Advice Travel forums allow you to post questions and get feedback from travelers and locals. If you don’t have a specific question in mind, search for the phrase “safety + [destination]” to find already-existing threads on the topic. Here are a few of our favorite travel forums: Tip #7: Explore Expat Websites for Additional Information An expatriate (expat) is a person who has moved abroad from their native country but maintains citizenship in their native country. Expat websites are a great source of information because they strive to provide everything an individual needs to know to live and work abroad. offers information for 52 countries and 419 cities respectively. Not Sure How to Choose Safe Accommodations Once You've Picked a Destination? Follow these tips for booking safe accommodations for your family vacation abroad: 1. Check User Reviews Before you book your accommodations, make sure your resort, hotel, or other lodging has positive reviews from previous customers. TripAdvisor is one of the most popular review sites. It allows users to review accommodations, restaurants, and activities. Another site to check out is Oyster, which sends its own “special investigators” to hotels across the world to inspect them in person and review them for vacation goers. The site currently offers ratings for 42,000 hotels in 76 countries. PRO TIP: Visit reviewers’ profiles to make sure they’re legit and have reviewed multiple places. 2. Check Out Street Views You can also type the address of potential accommodations into a site like to get a – you guessed it – instant street view of your potential host address! This can help you determine whether the surrounding areas look safe enough to ease your mind for family travel. 2. How to Get the Best Value From a Family Trip Family vacations aren’t cheap. In fact, Resonance Consultancy’s 2018 Future of U.S. Millennial Travel report found that the average vacation costs $4,580 for a family of four – and that’s just in the USA. Luckily, there are strategies you can take to squeeze the most value out of your international family trip. Here are 12 tips for finding the best deals on flights, accommodations, activities, and food as you travel abroad with your youngsters. Tips for Getting the Best Value on Flights 1. Travel in the Off-Season or Shoulder Season Travel tends to peak in spring, summer, and around the holidays. Unfortunately, prices tend to peak at these times as well. Travel in the off-season to secure the best deals on flights, lodging, and activities. However, be prepared for the possibility of inclement weather. Also, consider whether your off-season vacation means pulling your children out of school. Another option is traveling in the shoulder season, which typically means decent weather and still-affordable travel. The shoulder season is the season between peak and off-peak. For example, Italy’s peak season is mid-June through August, and its off-season is November through March. So its shoulder seasons are April through mid-June and September through October. You can also check out this chart highlighting the cheapest and most expensive months to travel to different regions around the world, according to a 2018 study of over 1,000,000 international trips by When to Travel the World for the Cheapest Airfare DESTINATION CHEAPEST MONTH TO TRAVEL MOST EXPENSIVE MONTH TO TRAVEL ASIA November June AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST February July CARIBBEAN January December CENTRAL AMERICA & MEXICO September December EUROPE March July SOUTH AMERICA February December SOUTH PACIFIC May December 2. Fly During Less Popular Times Choose a midweek departure (Tuesday – Thursday) or snag super early or late departure and arrival times for the cheapest ticket prices. If you’re worried about making a flight at the crack of dawn with your children, consider booking a room at an affordable nearby Airbnb. You can also use sites and apps like Skyscanner, Momondo, Vayama, and Hopper to find the cheapest rates. 3. Purchase Airline Tickets on a Monday Purchase international airline tickets on Mondays and domestic airline tickets on Thursdays. That’s when flights are cheapest, according to 2017 research from airfare forecasting company Hopper. In fact, Hopper found that booking an international flight on a Monday as opposed to a Tuesday resulted in average savings of $30 a ticket. If you can’t book on a Monday, the next best day to book an international flight is Thursday – followed by Wednesday. Avoid booking on a Sunday, when both domestic and international flights are most expensive. 4. Book Your Flights in Advance A recent study from reviewed over 1,000,000 international trips taken by U.S. travelers in 2017 to identify the exact number of days prior to a trip when international airfare is cheapest. The site also uncovered the prime window of time when you’re most likely to see the lowest airfares. Here are the results: Best Time to Purchase International Airline Tickets for the Cheapest Rates DESTINATION PRIME WINDOW FOR PURCHASING TICKETS BEST DAY TO PURCHASE TICKETS ASIA 40 days – 7 months before departure 120 days before departure AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST 96 days – 9½ months before departure 199 days before departure CARIBBEAN 30 days – 11 months before departure 207 days before departure CENTRAL AMERICA & MEXICO 14 days – 6 months before departure 70 days before departure EUROPE 45 days – 8 months before departure 160 days before departure SOUTH AMERICA 35 days – 11 months before departure 110 days before departure SOUTH PACIFIC 54 days – 8 months before departure 197 days before departure 5. Get a Credit Card That Rewards Travel Travel credit cards allow you to rack up points you can redeem for free flights and hotel stays. Many travel credit cards also offer huge bonuses to cardholders who meet a minimum spending requirement within the first three months. For example, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card entitles individuals who make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days to receive a bonus plane ticket (for just the cost of taxes and fees) when they purchase an airline ticket. According to Nerd Wallet, these are the best airline credit cards of 2018. 6. Sign Up for Frequent Flyer Programs These are loyalty programs offered by individual airlines that allow you to rack up “miles” based on how far you fly or how much you spend. You can redeem these miles for free flights. Many also offer perks such as priority check-in, flight upgrades, and luggage fee waivers. But you and your spouse don’t have to be the only ones accumulating miles and perks. You can sign your kids up for frequent flyer accounts and let them take advantage of the rewards, too! See a roundup of the best airline elite status programs here. Tips for Getting the Best Value on Accommodations 7. Rent a House Instead of Booking a Hotel With the rise of vacation-rental services like Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO, booking an entire house, condo, or cabin for your family trip has never been easier. Not only do home rentals typically provide a lot more bang for your buck than a standard hotel room, but they also provide a lot more space. According to vacation-rental site VRBO, the average vacation rental is 1,850 square feet. This is significantly more space than the average hotel room, which measures only 325 square feet. This extra space can be great for separating bickering siblings or accommodating a loud snorer. Plus, you’ll likely have access to a kitchen where you can save money by cooking some meals yourself. And you can recycle outfits if you have access to a washing machine. This could mean packing fewer items – and saving on checked luggage fees (that’s what we call a “twofer!”). How to Get the Best Value from a Hotel If home rentals aren't your thing, these tips will help you get the best value out of your hotel stay: 1. Use TripAdvisor and to find hotels that offer freebies like Wi-Fi and complimentary breakfasts. 2. Choose a hotel that’s slightly off the beaten path, as hotels in the heart of the city are bound to be more expensive. But be sure to check out your transportation options and make sure the lower price is worth it. 3. Contact the hotel to ask if they offer any discounts or specials for booking directly. And be sure to ask about the cancellation policy! 4. Enroll in hotel loyalty programs to unlock secret prices and take advantage of perks, such as room upgrades and free breakfasts. 5. Sign up for a hotel credit card that accumulates rewards points each time you use it – with extra points when you use it to book hotels or flights. Then, redeem your points for free stays! 8. Check Out Deals Online offers packaged deals on vacations around the world. You can browse deals by destination or by interest, with categories like “all-inclusive,” “beach,” or “outdoor and adventure.” Check out Groupon’s “Family Fun” deals here. HolidayGuru is another great site offering discounted trips and vacation packages. The team behind HolidayGuru checks websites like LivingSocial, Click&Go, and to provide visitors the very best deals. Check out the site’s “Family Holiday Deals” listing here. Tips for Getting the Best Value on Activities 9. Get Tickets for Attractions Online Child-friendly attractions like zoos, theme parks, and aquariums frequently offer discounted tickets in advance online. And if you purchase ahead of time, you won’t have to worry about your kids getting restless as you wait in line. And let’s be honest, that’s a pretty big win, right? 10. Seek Out City Passes See if your destination offers a city pass, which may provide free or discounted access to local sites, attractions, and public transportation. The Roma Pass, for example, provides tourists to Rome with free admission to a museum of their choice, discounts on events and exhibits, and free use of public transit for 48 hours. It costs just 28 EUR per person (about 33 USD)! 11. Search for Free Entertainment One approach to discover upcoming free entertainment is to contact the local visitors’ bureau and ask! Also visit the websites of local parks and libraries, which likely provide a community calendar of cheap or free events, like an outdoor concert series. If you want to hear live music, look for restaurants that schedule performers with no cover charge. Finally, check local colleges and universities for a list of upcoming guest performers. Still struggling with your budget? Here are the best tips on budgeting for a family vacation! Tips for Getting the Best Value on Food 12. Skip the Tourist Traps Restaurants are bound to be pricier near tourist attractions. You’ll often find restaurants a couple of blocks away that serve more authentic fare at even better prices. But you don’t have to wander around aimlessly searching for hidden restaurants – strike up a conversation with the locals! They’ll be able to give you the inside scoop on the best food at the best prices. Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are also great for finding restaurants on a budget. 13. Prepare Food Yourself If you have access to a kitchen where you’re staying, eat some of your meals in! Hit up the local grocery stores to find fresh, low-cost food to prepare for your family. Just because you prepare your meals at your accommodations doesn’t mean you have to stay there and eat it. Pack up a picnic and take it to the local square or a nearby park for a fun dining experience both you and the kids will enjoy. See more tips for saving money on food while traveling with your family. 3. How to Build a Personalized Travel Itinerary It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of activities you want to tackle on your family vacation abroad. Use these 5 steps to organize your thoughts and create a travel itinerary personalized to you and your family. Step #1: Gather Your Most Important Trip Information Key trip information may include details of the following: Departing flight – Airport and airport map, airline, gate number, flight number, boarding date and time, departure time, seat number Arrival flight – Airport and airport map, arrival gate number, arrival time, checked bag pickup location, transportation location Accommodations – Hotel name (or the name of another lodging), address, contact information, and directions Car rental – Name, address, contact info, reservation details, and pick up instructions Reservations or purchased activities – Date, time, location, and tickets/confirmation for any activity reservations you’ve made ahead of time Store this information in multiple locations that are easy to access while traveling. Print it out. Store it in a notes app like Evernote or Google Keep. Email a copy to yourself. Store it in a cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive. You might even consider packing a USB drive with a copy stored there as well. Basically, store it everywhere you can so it’s accessible regardless of your situation. Step #2: Make a List of All the Experiences You Want to Have Evernote is a great app for creating and storing lists like this one. As you create your list, consider: Types of food you want to eat/specific restaurants you want to try Museums you want to visit Attractions you want to explore (theme parks, zoos, aquariums, etc.) Landmarks you want to see Events you want to attend Be sure to consult your family as you create your list – you don’t want to plan something that will bore your children to tears! PRO TIP: Make a separate list for each city you’ll be visiting. For larger cities, consider further splitting your list into districts. Best Resources for Exploring Activity Options – Discover suggestions and reviews of restaurants and activities in your destination. – Find and book attractions or see prices. – Get help deciding when to go and what to do – or see example itineraries! – Buy a guidebook for your chosen destination. Around Me (App) – Search for nearby activities by category (movie theatres, restaurants, concerts, etc.). Step #3: Fill in the Details: As you research, make a note beside each activity indicating the following: The estimated amount of time you think it’ll take. While some excursions may take an hour or two, others may be an all-day adventure. The estimated cost of each activity. This way you can factor it into your budget – or swap it out for a more affordable activity later on. How much are tickets per person? Can you eat there? Do you think you’ll want to purchase souvenirs? Opening and closing hours. Seasonality. Make sure your desired experiences will be available during your trip dates. PRO TIP: Mark each of your “must-do” activities with an asterisk to ensure you include them in your itinerary. Step #4: Map Your Activities to Their Location Now you should pinpoint the location of each activity using an up-to-date map. This way you can order itinerary items in a way that makes the most sequential sense. Google My Maps is a great resource for this. It allows you to create a map for your trip and use pins to mark the locations of places you plan to visit. You can also: Create a separate “layer” for each day of your trip or for each city you will visit Edit pins to add important details Measure the distance between two locations Add directions and time estimates for traveling from one point to another via car, bicycle, or foot Because it’s a Google service, Google My Maps also pulls in relevant information for each location, such as its website, phone number, address, and even reviews. PRO TIP: Use one color or icon to distinguish your “must-do” activities. You may also choose to categorize locations with different icons and/or different colored pins (e.g. yellow fork & knife icon = restaurant). Use whatever system works best for you. Not familiar with Google My Maps? Follow the steps in this tutorial from to map your bucket list items to their location! Step #5: Create Your Itinerary Open Word, Excel, Google Docs, or the Evernote app. Then take the following steps to create your personalized travel itinerary: 1. Establish one column for each day of your trip, using the day and date as each column header. 2. Below each header, add the name of the city or district you will be visiting that day. 3. Start filling in the first column by listing your arrival airport and arrival time. 4. Begin adding activities to each column, starting with the sites and attractions you must visit on specific days or at specific times due to open hours or reservations. If you are required to be somewhere at a certain time, list the time first and in bold to make sure you don’t overlook it. 5. Add the relevant details you noted in Step #3 to each item, including time estimates, cost estimates, and opening and closing times. 6. Add the “must do” items (and their relevant details) that you marked with an asterisk in Step #3. 7. Add the rest of the items (and their relevant details) from your master list, placing them in the column that corresponds to their location. 8. In the final column, account for your travel back to the airport, your return flight departure and arrival times, and your travel from the airport to your home. Important! Be sure to reference your map frequently to ensure you list your stops in sequential order. Optional: 9. Factor in breakfast, lunch, and dinner – plus naps or breaks. 10. Include your means of transportation from one place to another and your estimated transportation time. 11. Add an “Alternate Activities” list for each city you will visit in case of transportation issues, inclement weather, or unexpected closings. Leave Room for Spontaneity Aside from activities that require you to be somewhere at a certain time, don’t stress about assigning specific time frames to the items on your itinerary. As long as you prioritize your “must-do” activities and note opening and closing times, you should be able to accomplish everything you want to on your family trip abroad. You may even consider leaving a couple of afternoons wide open in case you get behind schedule or find that you’re exhausted from all the excitement. Or fill this time with something spontaneous later on! Itinerary Tips for the Most Popular Types of Family Travel Activity & Adventure Expedition When planning for adventure travel, be mindful of your kids’ mental and physical limitations. You don’t want to plan a day full of activities that will leave them exhausted by noon. Before booking an excursion, check tour company cancellation policies in case the weather takes a turn for the worse, or you find that you’ve overscheduled your days. Add backup items to your itinerary in case the weather prohibits you from outdoor activities. Research highly-rated tour operators and read reviews of others’ experiences before booking. Beach Getaway If your kids aren’t in school yet, consider traveling in the shoulder season for your destination – the season between peak and off-peak seasons. The shoulder season typically means cheaper rates and more manageable crowds. Stay updated on your destination’s weather conditions by checking sites like and the World Weather Information Service. Also, look for tour operators and hotels that offer hurricane policies and weather guarantees. Search the web for the current conditions of any beaches you plan to add to your itinerary. Pay special attention to current hazard ratings and safety alerts regarding potential dangers like strong currents or surges. Note whether the beaches you plan to visit are kid-friendly and whether they offer lifeguards, restrooms, and nearby food options. Camping Excursion Consider your kids’ previous camping experience. First-time campers may be better off visiting a campground in a state or national park that offers toilets and running water. Make sure the remoteness of your campsite and the activities on your itinerary are in line with your kids’ expectations. Some families like to spend all their time inside the campground. Others enjoy exploring nearby towns and attractions by day and sitting around a campfire by night. To avoid sold-out campgrounds, make reservations ahead of time. Many state and national parks begin accepting reservations for their campsites up to a year in advance. Cross-Cultural Exploration Consider purchasing a city pass. These passes often provide free or discounted admission to local sites and museums in addition to free use of public transportation. Purchase tickets for concerts and other attractions online. This will ensure the activities you add to your itinerary don’t sell out – and help you avoid standing in a long line with restless toddlers. Add museums and events to your itinerary that offer free admission to young children. Leave open space in your itinerary to explore hidden treasures that only the locals can suggest. 4. How to Prepare for Safe and Healthy Family Travel Abroad Before you take your family abroad, be sure to check the following items off your to-do list. These 11 steps will ensure your family’s preparedness when you encounter an emergency overseas. 1. Check Travel Advisories for Your Destination Visit and use the search bar to find the page for your destination country. Then click the link and note the travel advisory level, the reason(s) for the advisory, and the issue date. The safety and security status of a country can change in an instant, so be sure to check back frequently. 2. Join the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) This free service from the U.S. Department of State allows U.S. citizens to “enroll” a trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to receive real-time alerts about the safety conditions of their destination country. STEP also allows the U.S. Embassy or family and friends to easily contact you in case of an emergency. 3. Schedule a Doctor’s Visit and Get the Required Vaccinations Go to the "Travelers' Health" page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to see the required and recommended vaccinations for travel to your destination country. Use the drop-down menu under the “For Travelers” heading to select your destination country. Then, check the “Traveling with Children” box and any other boxes that apply to your trip. Hit “Go” to see a list of required and suggested vaccines for your trip. Beside each vaccine listed, you’ll see green text that says “Traveling with Children.” This information will help you determine which vaccines are safe to administer to children and at what age. According to, frequently recommended vaccinations for children traveling internationally include: Meningitis Rabies Typhoid Yellow Fever Children may also have an increased risk of contracting malaria in countries where malaria is prevalent. If you’re traveling to a malaria risk area, ask your pediatrician about antimalarial drugs. Schedule an appointment with your doctor and pediatrician about 4-6 weeks before your departure to get your vaccinations and ensure everyone is healthy enough for international travel. This will allow enough time for most vaccines to become effective. Be aware, some vaccines have a long process involving multiple shots. For example, the full vaccination for Hepatitis A consists of two shots administered over six months. It’s best to look up vaccination information as soon as you determine a destination. Traveling Abroad with Your Baby? "Although all kids get the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine at 12-15 months of age, any who will travel outside the United States before that should get the vaccine as early as six months of age.” – 4. Prepare Written Copies of Your Child’s Medical History While no one wants to think about the possibility of their child getting sick or injured on a family trip, these things do happen from time to time. In a moment where you’ll likely be under extreme stress, it’s best to be prepared. That’s why suggests preparing a written copy of your child’s medical history to carry with you on your trip. It can be as simple as a handwritten note card that you keep in your purse or wallet. Your child’s medical history should include: Your name and your child's name Your address and phone number Your child's blood type Previous immunizations Your pediatrician’s name, address, and office and emergency phone numbers A list of current health problems your child is facing A list of medicines your child takes, dosage, and the pharmacy's name and phone number A list of allergies to medications, food, insects, or animals A prescription for glasses or contact lenses The name, address, and phone number of an emergency contact back home 5. Prepare Prescription Medications Carla Blieden, PharmD, MPH of Travelwise Vaccination Services, recommends only taking the amount of medication needed for the number of days you will be away – plus a few days extra in case you experience a long layover or a change in your itinerary. If you’re taking a trip of a month or longer, or if you or your children will need an early refill of any of your prescription medications, “have your pharmacy call your insurance company for a vacation override for your billing cycle,” Blieden suggests. Carry all medications in the original container. If you can, make copies of your original prescriptions and bring them with you. 6. Get Family Travel Medical Insurance Family travel medical insurance is designed to cover you and your family for the unexpected medical expenses you might incur while traveling abroad. First, check your current health plan to determine whether it provides international coverage – even if your visa does not require health insurance. Many domestic health plans don’t offer this coverage. If your plan doesn’t cover you and your family after you’ve departed the U.S. – or if this coverage is very limited – then consider travel medical insurance for the length of your trip. Travel medical insurance is our business, so we know how important it is. But don’t just take our word for it! Important government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State strongly encourage travelers to purchase travel medical insurance for overseas adventures. These types of plans cover treatment for unexpected injuries and illnesses incurred abroad and provide emergency travel benefits like Emergency Medical Evacuation. According to the CDC, “the cost of evacuation can exceed $100,000.” Could you afford this cost without insurance? Learn how to choose the best travel medical insurance for your family. 7. Look Up the Nearest Hospitals and Know the Emergency Number Before you travel abroad, find the emergency phone number for your destination country in the sidebar of your destination’s “Country Information” page at If you’re headed to the Schengen Area, you can also find the information here. Write down the name, address, and phone number of local hospitals near your accommodations. On the “Country Information” page, click to expand the “Health” tab. Here you’ll find links to the websites of the local hospitals, which will provide their addresses and contact information. If you purchase travel medical insurance for your family trip abroad, you may also have access to an international provider search engine that allows you to locate doctors and hospitals in your destination country. Some plans can also refer you to adequate treatment facilities and help with prescription drug replacement via phone. 8. Pack a First Aid Kit It’s always a good idea to bring along a small first aid kit – especially when traveling with children, who are prone to minor bumps and scrapes. Trips with Tykes recommends infant pain relief medications, teething tablets, and diaper cream for babies and toddlers. For young children, you’ll want to pack your go-to children’s pain relief medications and children’s cough and cold medicine. You may also want to have some Pepto-Bismol on hand for cases of travelers’ diarrhea. While diarrhea is unfortunately common during travel, it is especially common for babies and young children, who can become easily dehydrated. As a side note, drink only bottled water and avoid non-cooked foods (especially salads) for a much better shot at avoiding traveler’s diarrhea altogether. 9. Research Local Laws and Customs To keep your family safe abroad, it’s important to make sure you understand and respect the local laws and customs. The “Local Laws and Special Circumstances” tab of your destination’s “Country Information” page is a great place to start researching local laws. A quick Google search of “etiquette and customs in [destination]” will also turn up important information about the local culture and how to effectively communicate with locals. 5. How to Keep Your Children Safe While Traveling Abroad It’s likely that one of your top concerns in traveling abroad with your children is how to keep them safe. The following tips will help you keep your kids safe in transit, while exploring your destination, and in your accommodations. It’s likely that one of your top concerns in traveling abroad with your children is how to keep them safe. The following tips will help you keep your kids safe in transit, while exploring your destination, and in your accommodations. In Transit In the Car Before you start your journey, check for potential hazards. Hazards include approaching storms or natural disasters, heavy traffic, and adverse road conditions. You can do this by utilizing apps that inform you of these types of hazards in real-time. For weather conditions, check out the Weather Channel app. To help you avoid traffic, crashes, and construction, download an international travel app like Waze Navigation & Live Traffic or Inrix. Keep in mind wi-fi and cellular reception may not be as prevalent in your destination country as it is in the United States. Plan ahead and check for these hazards when you have the opportunity. Have a plan in place for traveling with a car seat. While lugging around a bulky car seat is not ideal, it is important. When you rent a car seat abroad, you have no way of knowing whether the seat has been properly cared for or whether an accident has left it compromised. The rental company could also provide you a seat that defies the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics for your child’s age and size. Or the car rental company could run out of car seats entirely. According to USA Today, all U.S. airlines and most international airlines will allow you to bring a car on the plane for free – either as checked luggage or a carry-on item. Travel bloggers The Family Voyage urge you to bring your car seat as a carry-on so you can ensure its safety. They also recommend using your stroller as a trolley to easily transport the car seat through the airport. DID YOU KNOW? In 2015, Consumer Reports sent child passenger safety technicians to two major car rental companies. They found that most rental car seats were missing their owner’s manuals and many had missing parts. On the Plane Use a child restraint system (CRS) to keep your child safe. If you bring your car seat as a carry-on item, it may be able to double as your CRS. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, this is the safest place for a child on an airplane. “Your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence,” the administration notes. Make sure your CRS is both government and airplane approved, as not all car seats are approved for airplane use. Look for text printed on your car seat that reads “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” Learn how to install a CRS on an airplane. On Public Transportation Establish a plan in case you and your child are separated on the metro system. You may direct your child to get off at the next stop and wait for you on the nearest bench. Or you may encourage him or her to get off at the next stop and find a metro employee at the closest ticket window. No matter your plan, make sure you both know what it is. You can do this by sporadically asking questions like: What will you do if you get on the train first and the doors close? What will you do if we are separated in the crowd? How will you recognize a metro employee? What Does Your Plan Look Like? "We had a plan for the Underground and metro in which we would enter and exit in this order: parent, child, child, parent. That way, if a child didn’t make it on or off, there would always be a parent with him or her.” – Carrick Buss, father and co-creator of family travel blog Along for the Trip As You Explore Your Destination During Activities Dress children in brightly-colored clothing that is easy to spot. Calgary’s Child Magazine recommends lemon yellow and lime green because they attract the eye. Snap a photo of your child before you venture out for the day. That way, if you get separated and seek help finding your child, you’ll have a recent photo of him or her in that day’s outfit. Talk to your kids about what to do if they get lost. At each attraction you visit, establish a “lost area” where you’ll meet in case you get separated. Make sure your kids know who to talk to in an emergency (a police officer, a hotel manager, etc.) – and who not to approach. DID YOU KNOW? A parental survey conducted by the Center to Prevent Lost Children revealed that 90% of families have lost a child in a public place at least once. Arm your children with your contact information. Include your name and phone number, the name of your hotel or lodging, and an alternate contact number. This could be a business card in their pocket or a hospital-style I.D. bracelet. Jessica Hentze, a contributor to The Survival Mom travel blog, suggests a lanyard with an attached I.D. holder. Teach your child to attract attention if grabbed by a stranger. Travel blog IHeartFamilyTravels recommends teaching your child to yell “This is not my parent! Help!” in these types of situations. That way, nearby individuals won’t mistake your child’s screaming for a run-of-the-mill temper tantrum. Take the proper safety precautions. Ensure your children wear the proper protective gear for each of your activities. If you go bike riding or horseback riding, for example, make sure your kids are properly fitted with a helmet. If you go boating, make sure your kids wear life vests. On a tour or excursion, make sure they follow the safety advice of the tour guide. Quiz them on the instructions to make sure they heard and understood the guidelines. Learn how travel medical insurance can be there for you if your child is injured abroad. In Water Take precautions to prevent drowning. Only swim in well-maintained, supervised areas. Keep your eyes on your children and stay within arm’s reach in the water. Use the proper safety devices for smaller children. Important! While the advice above may seem obvious, it’s important to know that drowning is quick and silent. In fact, it only takes two minutes of submersion for a child to lose consciousness and four to six minutes for a child to suffer irreversible brain damage. Martin Eichelberger, MD, of Children's National Medical Center, shares that "young kids rarely make a big splash, thrash around, or scream for help like you see on TV. They usually fall in head first and sink to the bottom like a rock." Beware of dry drowning. “Dry drowning occurs when, after being submerged in water, a person's vocal cords experience a spasm and close, making it difficult to breathe,” shares Dr. Mike Patrick of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. If your child is submerged in water, keep a close eye on him or her in the 24 hours after the submersion, notes Live Science. Watch for symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest pain, or difficulty breathing. If you witness any of these symptoms, don’t wait – get medical attention for your child right away. In Your Accommodations Beware of potential fire hazards. Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor for CBS News, shared the following hotel safety tips in a segment on CBS This Morning: Book a room on a lower floor in case of a fire. You’ll have a better chance of getting your children to safety, and firefighters will have a better chance of fighting the fire on lower levels. Make sure there is a hard-wired smoke detector in each room. If you’re above the third story, make sure there’s an automatic sprinkler system in each room as well. Before you unpack, make sure you have shared at least two fire escape routes with your children. You should find a map on the hotel room door highlighting the nearest exits. Child-proof your accommodations. Scan each room for sharp objects and potential choking hazards. Check the carpet, underneath the beds, and even in drawers and cabinets. Use duct tape to tie up cords, soften sharp corners, and tape off electrical outlets (from Use disinfectant wipes to clean bathroom surfaces, furniture, and the remote control. If you’re using a hotel crib, recommends replacing the bedding and examining the slats to ensure none of them are missing, loose, or broken. See other safety tips for traveling with children – from the top 20 family travel bloggers themselves! Don’t open the door unless you can verify who’s on the other side – and instruct your children to do the same. If a visitor arrives at your door with an unexpected delivery or claiming to be from maintenance, call the front desk and verify that they are who they say they are. It’s better to be safe than sorry. NEVER leave your kids alone in the hotel room. The 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann is a painful reminder to never leave your young children alone on vacation. Even if you’re just down the street. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. While this is a rare occurrence, it’s still something to watch out for when staying in a vacation rental. If you can meet the rental manager in person, ask how the utilities work and whether the air conditioning and heating systems have been inspected recently. Don’t stay anywhere that doesn’t appear well-maintained or properly managed. You can also pack a portable carbon monoxide detector like this one. 6. How to Keep Your Children Healthy While Traveling Abroad From minor aches and pains to mosquito-borne diseases, there are a number of potential dangers you may encounter when traveling abroad. Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to mitigate your risk and prepare for healthy travel with your family. In Transit On the Plane Be prepared to fight jet lag. This "temporary sleep disorder” caused when your circadian rhythms – which signal to your body when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to be asleep – are synced to your original time zone, rather than to the new time zone you’ve entered. The extreme fatigue brought on by jet lag can result in gastrointestinal issues, to which travelers – and especially babies and young children – are already more susceptible. To help your family conquer jet lag, follow these tips: Book an overnight flight, if possible. Alternatively, pack sleep masks, ear plugs, or noise-canceling headphones for each of your children to help them sleep on a daytime flight. Slowly begin shifting your children’s sleeping and eating schedules to coincide with those in your destination. Begin at least four days before departure. Ensure your children drink plenty of bottled water throughout your flight. Dehydration can increase the severity of symptoms. Babies and young children become dehydrated more quickly than adults. Avoid the airport Starbucks and keep your kids away from beverages loaded with caffeine. Caffeine causes a drop in blood sugar which robs your body of its energy reserves. Be prepared to fight ear pain. Ear pain on airplanes is brought on by rapidly changing air pressure. Unfortunately, kids frequently experience this discomfort upon takeoff and descent. That’s why it’s helpful to keep a few coping strategies up your sleeve. KidsHealth recommends providing a child-safe pain reliever to your children 30-60 minutes before takeoff to help ease the pain. Encourage them to swallow, yawn, or chew gum to help their ears adjust. Nursing or sucking on a bottle can help infants. Disinfect everything. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and E. coli are common in environments like airplanes, where groups of people are crowded together in a tight space. In 2014, Auburn University researchers found that MRSA can live on the seat-back pocket of an airplane for a week, while E. coli can survive on an airplane armrest for four days. Infection with MRSA can cause skin diseases and pneumonia, and E. coli can be especially dangerous to young kids. E. coli can lead to severe diarrhea and hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a disorder which is more frequently fatal in children under five years old. Thankfully, the following hygiene practices can lower your risk: Use disinfecting wipes to wipe down seat-back pockets, tray tables, armrests, seatbelt buckles Ensure your children wash their hands after using the airplane bathroom Don’t allow your kids to eat directly off tray tables As You Explore Your Destination During Mealtime Be careful what you eat. While you want your children to enjoy the culture and have the experience of trying new foods, it’s important to take steps to avoid contamination and food-borne illness. Especially in developing countries without proper health regulations. “I would advise parents who are traveling with young children for the first (or any) time not to let children eat anything they have not approved,” shares Kyle McCarthy of Family Travel Forum. Make sure it looks fresh and healthy, and that meat, poultry, eggs, and fish are thoroughly cooked. If you want to try the street food, only visit places frequented by locals. And in developing countries, cautions you to avoid raw fruits and veggies and foods prepared by street vendors entirely. Want more advice from the top family travel bloggers? Check out this collection of the best tips and tricks for safe and healthy travel with children! Determine whether the water is safe to drink. Check the CDC’s “Health Information for Travelers” page for your destination country. Find the “Eat and Drink Safely” section below the “Stay Healthy and Safe” header. Click the “+” to expand the section and see recommendations for water consumption. If the tap water in your destination country is unsafe to drink, avoid ice and stick to bottled or filtered water only – even when brushing your teeth. “Train your children to practice this before they leave for the holiday,” shares YTravelBlog. Purchase a water bottle with a built-in filter and carry it with you. This will save money and ensure the safety of your water even if you don’t have access to bottled water. Also encourage your children to drink water continuously throughout the day. Children are at greater risk of dehydration, which can lead to stomach issues like diarrhea. Not sure whether the water in your destination is safe to drink? Review this “Traveller’s Guide to Tap Water” infographic from travel blogger Mapping Megan! During Activities Pack snacks that are high in fiber. Snacks can help your child avoid hunger-induced temper tantrums. And healthy snacks will help your child feel full longer – and avoid the hyperactivity and eventual crash that inevitably results from too much sugar. “When planning snacks, think fiber,” shares pediatrician Claire McCarthy, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital. Raisins, whole grain crackers, and fruits and vegetables can help your child combat constipation, which often occurs as the result of trying new foods. Learn how to prevent the top 5 health risks to children traveling abroad! Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Unfortunately, bites from parasite-infected mosquitos can cause malaria – the fourth biggest health risk to kids who travel abroad. Malaria typically results in fever, chills, and flu-like illness. It is especially dangerous for children, who are at increased risk of developing severe complications resulting in shock, seizures, coma, or even death. To learn whether your travel destination is a risk area for malaria, visit the CDC’s “Health Information for Travelers” page for your destination before your trip. Take the following precautions to prevent malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses: Take preventative, prescription medication before, during, and after your trip. Your doctor will help you decide which medicine is right for you. Sleep in air-conditioned rooms, screened rooms, or under bed nets. In risk areas, use mosquito netting over infant carriers. Ensure your children wear repellant that includes active ingredients like *DEET, picaridin, *oil of lemon eucalyptus, or PMD. In risk areas, ensure your children wear pants and long sleeves outdoors. *Important Note for Babies and Children Under 3 Years: Do not use repellents including oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under three years old. Only use repellents with a DEET concentration greater than 30% on children two years or older. Do not use DEET of any concentration on infants under two months old. Pay attention to your child’s sun exposure. According to, UV light is most intense: From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At high altitudes Near the equator Where light reflects off water and snow Have your children wear hats and sunglasses to combat sun exposure. Apply broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of SPF 30+ to your child every two hours. Explore this “Food and Water Safety: What to Know Before You Go!” infographic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Carry a written copy of your child’s medical history in case of an emergency. Traveling overseas may mean exposing yourself and your kids to new environments, unfamiliar foods, and foreign bacteria. Since children's immune systems do not fully develop until they are around four or five years old, young children may also be more susceptible to diarrheal illnesses and diseases like malaria. That’s why you should keep a written copy of your child’s medical history in your pocket, wallet, or purse that includes the details found here. Don't know what to expect from healthcare abroad? Discover how healthcare works in 13 of the most popular international destinations for families. Carry your medical insurance ID card. Store a copy of your travel medical insurance ID card in your pocket or wallet (yes, you may need travel medical insurance, but don’t worry – it’s budget-friendly). This card will contain information like your name, the name and phone number of your insurance provider, your ID number, and your effective date of coverage. If you or your child needs emergency medical treatment, you will show this card to prove you have insurance coverage. DID YOU KNOW? Your domestic health plan may not cover you or your children outside your home country. To find out whether you have international coverage, review your plan details or contact your insurance company and ask. For emergency medical coverage, supplemental travel benefits, and travel assistance, consider purchasing travel medical insurance, as recommended by the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Explore More Family Travel Content from WorldTrips How to Choose a Family Travel Health Insurance Plan How to Safely Travel Abroad with Young Children (According to the Top 21 Family Travel Bloggers) Infographic: Stay Safe While Traveling with Young Kids How to Fly with Kids KHE2FFFYH6SP-971744701-700 WorldTrips is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel Series and StudentSecure international travel medical insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. WorldTrips has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency, Ltd. WorldTrips' Atlas Journey, Atlas Cruiser, and Atlas On-The-Go trip protection insurance products are underwritten by Tokio Marine HCC's U.S. Specialty Insurance Company (USSIC). USSIC is a Texas-domiciled insurance company operating on an admitted basis throughout the United States. Coverage is available to U.S. residents of the U.S. states and District of Columbia only. This plan provides insurance coverage that only applies during the covered trip. You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home, and automobile insurance policies. Coverage may not be available in all states. In the State of California, operating as WorldTrips Insurance Services. California Non-Resident Producer License Number: 0G39705
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Safe Travel Destinations For Families
Traveling with young children means watching as your kids are exposed to new cultures, new foods, and new activities. These trips early on will no doubt have a positive effect on the rest of their lives. Safety becomes the main concern when considering where to take your traveling tot. What are the safest travel destinations in the world? If a country is considered safe enough that you and your family can take normal travel precautions, are there things to do there with young kids? According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report (2017) and the Institute for Economics and Peace’s (IEP) Global Peace Index (2018), these are the world’s safest countries. These rankings are supplemented by data from the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisories page and the “Crime and Criminal Justice” section of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) website to illustrate their suitability for tourists. To top it off, we’ve added helpful resources to each country listing that will provide you with international travel safety tips and ideas for family-friendly activities to keep your youngsters entertained. 1. FINLAND This Nordic country tops the “Safety and Security” index in the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, and ranks 15th in the IEP Global Peace Index. With bustling cities and vast countryside, you’ll only have to worry about how many experiences you can fit into a single trip! Your kids will definitely want to meet Santa Claus in the winter, but there are plenty of child-friendly activities to do in the summer as well. Crime Rates in Finland Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 - 28.40 Kidnapping: 2015 - 0.02 Theft: 2015 - 1,770.96 Robbery: 2015 - 28.16 Burglary: 2015 - 510.97 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety & Security in Finland 2. UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Although most people envision unstable governments when they think of the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates ranks #2 for “Safety and Security” on the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. Heeding the U.S. Department of State’s cautions below, this destination promises a mix of architectural feats and rolling dunes guaranteed to amaze even the smallest of travelers. Resources For Families Traveling to the United Arab Emirates 15 Important Facts to Know Before Visiting the UAE…With Kids UAE With Kids: 2017 Guide Helen Maffini is the director of the blog Family Travel Scoop. She offers these words of wisdom about traveling in the United Arab Emirates: "UAE is a very safe country. Wear modest clothing – although the UAE is a modern country, it is a Muslim country, and you must wear modest clothing (meaning shoulders covered, knee-length skirts, etc.). Book tours and guides from reliable companies. Don’t go off with people on tours if you are not 100% sure they are regulated tour guides.” Crime Rates in the United Arab Emirates Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 - 3.49 Kidnapping: 2015 - 0.90 Theft: 2015 - 67.83 Robbery: 2015 - 9.02 Burglary: 2015 - 17.01 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in the United Arab Emirates In regard to terrorism, U.S. citizens in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness, even though law enforcement units have effectively demonstrated the capacity to detect, deter, and prevent acts of terrorism. This concern is caused by the global threat of terrorism, including the possibility of terrorist attacks on U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. Historical and current information suggests that ISIS, al-Qaida, and affiliated organizations continue to plan attacks on Western targets. Maintain a low profile, varying routes and times of travel, and treating unfamiliar mail and packages with caution. Know that the Iranian Coast Guard has frequently detained small, expatriate, recreational boaters in past years, due to a long-standing dispute concerning the jurisdiction of Abu Musa between the United Arab Emirates and Iran. Fishing or sailing in these waters may result in the seizure of vessels and detention of passengers and crew in Iran. U.S. citizens, and especially women, should take precautions against the possibility of verbal and physical harassment or sexual assault when walking alone, consuming alcohol, and riding in a taxi cab. 3. ICELAND It’s no surprise that Iceland is at the top of this list. In this country “Icelanders feel safe letting their children roam free,” so you can rest assured that Iceland is one of the safest travel destinations, as well as a great destination for your kids. What’s more, this island (which also ranks 1st on the Global Peace Index) is a nature lover's dream, with natural sights and experiences to go around. Resources for Families Traveling to Iceland A Family Guide to Iceland Tips for Families in Iceland Why Iceland is the Best Starter Destination for Families Crime Rates in Iceland Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 – 25.8 Kidnapping: no data Theft: 2015 – 1,223.95 Robbery: 2015 – 16.09 Burglary: 2015 – 43 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Iceland Eric, the co-founder of Iceland With Kids, knows a thing or two about safety in Iceland: "You’re responsible for your own safety while you’re in the beautiful Icelandic outdoors. Tourists from the United States may be used to any unsafe areas being physically inaccessible—blocked by a fence or other barricade. In Iceland, you may only get a warning sign; take that warning sign seriously! For example, consider the black sand beach Reynisfjara. There is a sign warning you about the "sneaker waves"—occasionally, one wave is dramatically more powerful than any recent wave. Those waves can knock you off your feet, or push you into the rocks behind. Make sure you stay well away from the water—much further than you would think necessary! Bring Lots of Cell Phones. Your kids may or may not have cell phones to use at home. But because Iceland is so safe, you may want to let your kids walk around by themselves. During a walking tour of Reykjavik, our tour guide mentioned how her 8-year-old loves spending time by himself in the city! And our kids loved the freedom to walk to the local hot dog stand and buy food with Icelandic cash. But you’ll want them to have their own cell phones. Bring an unlocked phone and buy an Icelandic SIM card. Or see if your carrier offers reasonable international plans. See more details here. Make Sure You Understand F Roads. F roads are mountain paths, only open in the summer, and only accessible to 4 wheel drive vehicles. Many tourists don’t venture onto F roads—there’s more than enough to see on the regular roads! But, Google Maps and most other mapping programs don’t know about F roads. Ask for a route to, say, Þórsmörk, and Google Maps will happily show you the way. But the roads it takes you on are closed most of the year, and impassible for almost all vehicles. Be sure to check the route before you go!" 4. OMAN Just like UAE, Oman is located on the Arabian Peninsula, which travelers often think of as unsafe given its neighboring countries (Yemen and Saudi Arabia). But, keeping in mind the U.S. Department of State’s notes on safety and security below, Oman is a family-friendly oasis on the Peninsula, with warm waters and sandy deserts that make for an adventure-filled family vacation. Resources for Families Traveling to Oman Why Oman is a Family-Friendly Destination Oman: Perfect for a Unique Family Holiday Oman for Families – Everything You Need to Know Crime Rates in Oman Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2008 – 78.54 Kidnapping: 2008 – 0.34 Theft: 2008 – 207.93 Robbery: 2008 – 9.61 Burglary: no data U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Oman While there have been no terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens in Oman, regionally, terrorists continue to target U.S. and Western interests in the Middle East and North Africa. According to the United States Maritime Administration, U.S. flag vessels in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab-el-Mandeb regions face an elevated risk of attacks by violent extremists. 5. HONG KONG According to the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, Hong Kong is the fifth safest country in the world. An international city generally popular with business travelers, Hong Kong has many kid-friendly attractions. With multiple amusement parks, including Hong Kong Disneyland, this Asian destination is sure to please both parents and kids. Resources for Families Traveling to Hong Kong 18 Best Things to Do in Hong Kong With Kids The 10 Best Family-Friendly Destinations in Asia The Good, Bad, and Ugly Sides to Hong Kong, for Visitors and Residents Alike Katie Dillon, the author of luxury travel blog La Jolla Mom, offers her advice for staying safe with kids in Hong Kong: "Hong Kong is a fantastic family vacation destination. The advice I have for staying safe in Hong Kong is similar to the advice I'd give families traveling to any big city. The sidewalks and crosswalks can be crowded, so it's especially important to keep kids from wandering too far ahead or behind. It also helps to forward-think transportation in Hong Kong. Car seats aren't required in taxis, so families may want to carry a small travel booster seat or opt for the MTR trains and walking to get around. I do also quite like temporary ID bracelets or tattoos that allow parents to mark contact information on the kids in case of separation. I also would put hotel information on there, too.” Crime Rates in Hong Kong Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2013 – 92.45 Kidnapping: 2013 – 0.01 Theft: 2013 – 441.07 Robbery: 2013 – 6.98 Burglary: 2013 – 49.87 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Hong Kong 6. SINGAPORE Widely recognized as a clean, safe country, Singapore is a great destination for a family vacation. Singapore offers a unique mix of “concrete jungle and real jungle” and plenty of kid-friendly activities, like educational tours, science centers, and zoos. Want an added bit of assurance? It’s ranked 8th on the Global Peace Index. Resources for Families Traveling to Singapore Singapore with Kids 8 Fun Things to Do in Singapore With Kids + Where to Eat and Sleep Visiting Singapore’s Tips on Travelling With Kids Crime Rates in Singapore Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 – 8.44 Kidnapping: no data Theft: 2015 – 265.98 Robbery: 2015 – 2.19 Burglary: 2015 – 4.46 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Singapore 7. NORWAY Another Nordic country at the top for “Safety and Security” in the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report and the Global Peace Index is Norway. Norwegian tourism is centered on the assumption that domestic tourists are traveling as families, making it that much more family-friendly for international visitors. With an abundance of beautiful Fjords and world-class museums, Norway is a perfect destination to expose your child to both nature and culture. Resources for Families Traveling to Norway Visit Norway: Safety First Visit Norway: Family Fun Crime Rates in Norway Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2014 – 46.17 Kidnapping: no data Theft: 2014 – 2,193.66 Robbery: 2014 – 20.65 Burglary: 2014 – 289.24 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Norway 8. SWITZERLAND Filled with gorgeous mountains and enchanting villages, Switzerland is one of the safest countries in Europe. It ranks in the top 10 for “Safety and Security,” according to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, and 12th on the Global Peace Index. Cheap train travel for kids and close proximity to popular European destinations makes Switzerland a perfect stop for families of all ages. Resources for Families Traveling to Switzerland Switzerland With Kids 9 Safety Tips for Travelers to Switzerland Crime Rates in Switzerland Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 – 7.42 Kidnapping: 2015 – 0.05 Theft: 2015 – 1,759.63 Robbery: 2015 – 51 Burglary: 2015 – 633.46 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Switzerland 9. RWANDA Rwanda is often associated with genocide and instability. However, in the 20+ years since the Rwandan genocide, it has become a much safer destination, according to the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. Travel and Leisure magazine highlights that, although Rwanda doesn’t have the lowest terrorism index or rate of homicide, police response is reliable, the business cost of terrorism is low, and so are the business costs of crime and violence. Paying attention to the U.S. Department of State’s notes below, this African destination is a place you shouldn’t feel the need to shy away from, and it provides kids with once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like going on safari. Resources for Families Traveling to Rwanda Tips for Family Travel in Rwanda 5 Reasons We Are Visiting Rwanda With Kids Crime Rates in Rwanda Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2013 – 29.78 Kidnapping: 2013 – 0.19 Theft: no data Robbery: 2013 – 25.02 Burglary: 2012 – 21.86 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Rwanda Borders in Rwanda may close without notice. Travelers should beware of the following security conditions: Rwanda - Democratic Republic of Congo Border – Congolese armed forces and UN peacekeepers continue combat operations against rebel and militia groups in North and South Kivu provinces. Violence, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging targeting civilians sporadically occur. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda operates in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, near the border. Volcanoes National Park/Nyungwe Forest – Armed groups operate on the Democratic Republic of Congo side of the park (Virunga). Exercise extreme caution, as the border may not be clearly marked. Additionally, you should obtain a permit from the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks before entering. Avoid demonstrations and remain vigilant while traveling, especially outside of cities and along border areas. Most reported incidents of crime involve petty theft and residential and hotel room robberies. Avoid walking alone after dark, do not display cash and valuables, drive with the doors locked and windows closed, and always carry a copy of your passport and visa, with original documents in a secure location. 10. QATAR Rounding out the top 10 on the “Safety and Security” index in the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, Qatar is a Gulf nation that illustrates true Arabian hospitality. Acknowledging the U.S. Department of State’s safety suggestions below, this family-oriented country boasts a variety of cuisines, beaches, and adventures, making it an exhilarating destination for families of all ages. Resources for Families Traveling to Qatar 14 Best Things to See and Do in Qatar Ultimate Guide of What To Do With Kids in Qatar During Winter Crime Rates in Qatar Per 100,000 Population Assault: no data Kidnapping: no data Theft: no data Robbery: no data Burglary: no data U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Qatar Terrorist groups are very active in the Middle East and North Africa, and there is concern about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests in the region. Government officials in the region are concerned about the potential return of foreign fighters following ISIS’s territorial losses in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. ISIS, al-Qaida, and affiliated organizations reportedly continue to plan attacks within the region against Westerners. Practice personal security measures at all times. Monitor local media broadcasts and consular messages, vary travel routes and times when possible, and be aware of your surroundings and local events. You should avoid large crowds and demonstrations, labor or work camps, and venues and events frequented by Westerners. 11. PORTUGAL Ranked 11th for “Safety and Security” by the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report and 4th on the Global Peace Index, Portugal is one of the safest destinations, which makes it perfect for your next trip with the kids. Portugal has a range of sights and activities that will keep your kids entertained for days. Visit the Algarve for a bounty of beaches, zoos, and water parks, or Lisbon, which is home to castles that will inspire the imaginations of your traveling toddlers. Resources for Families Traveling to Portugal Portugal: A Safe Country to Travel With Kids 11 Things to Do in Lisbon With Kids Crime Rates in Portugal Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 – 4.53 Kidnapping: 2015 – 3.57 Theft: 2015 – 834.96 Robbery: 2015 – 149.49 Burglary: 2015 – 283.93 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Portugal 12. LUXEMBOURG The tiny country of Luxembourg is considered extremely safe, as well as child friendly (Luxembourg has hundreds of specially conceived play areas just for kids). The Last Grand Duchy in the world, this tiny European country offers close proximity to other top European destinations, as well as a diverse cultural experience. Kids can enjoy castles, museums, and an impressive amount of playgrounds. Resources for Families Traveling to Luxembourg Activities for Children in Luxembourg Crime Rates in Luxembourg Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2014 – 572.61 Kidnapping: 2014 – 9.34 Theft: 2014 – 1,843.24 Robbery: 2014 – 110.50 Burglary: 2014 – 784.80 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Luxembourg 13. NEW ZEALAND Coming in as the 13th safest country, according to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, New Zealand is a dream for families. With a second-place ranking on the Global Peace Index, a moderate climate, and far fewer critters that can bite and sting compared to its neighbor, Australia, New Zealand is perfect for young travelers. This country is ripe with wildlife parks and nature-focused activities that will certainly introduce your kids to the wonders of the natural world. Resources for Families Traveling to New Zealand 10 Reasons Why New Zealand Was The Best Holiday With Toddler in Tow Crime Rates in New Zealand Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2014 – 220.12 Kidnapping: 2014 –5.23 Theft: 2013 – 2,280.13 Robbery: 2014 – 44.85 Burglary: 2013 – 1,170.07 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in New Zealand 14. AUSTRIA This central European country is an ideal destination for safe international travel with kids. With its top-5 ranking on the Global Peace Index, pedestrian-friendly cities, and an abundance of kid-oriented activities, you’ll be singing Austria’s safety praises like the Von Trapp family in no time. Resources for Families Traveling to Austria Our Winter Vacation to Europe, Part 1 Vienna With Kids: 33 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do in Austria’s Capital Crime Rates in Austria Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 – 40.51 Kidnapping: 2015 – 0.04 Theft: 2015 – 1,630.94 Robbery: 2015 – 39.98 Burglary: 2015 – 748.58 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Austria 15. ESTONIA Far beyond its involvement as a Soviet Socialist Republic, Estonia is now a member of the European Union. The country also ranks 15th for “Safety and Security,” according to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. While this country’s unique history is a draw for older travelers, there are plenty of ways to keep your younger kids entertained on vacation to this Baltic State. Estonia is home to interactive museums, plenty of castles, and toddler-friendly beaches. Resources for Families Traveling to Estonia An Active Holiday With Children in Tallinn Crime Rates in Estonia Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 – 7.47 Kidnapping: 2015 – 0 Theft: 2015 – 865.03 Robbery: 2015 – 25.68 Burglary: no data U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Estonia 16. SWEDEN This Scandinavian country is known for being safe and especially kid-friendly. Just like its neighbor Norway, Sweden’s domestic travel industry is curated around children’s interests. Most museums in Sweden are free for kids under 18, and activities are generally designed with kids in mind, making it particularly easy to explore with young kids. Resources for Families Traveling to Sweden Family Sweden: Traveller’s Guide Crime Rates in Sweden Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 – 47.36 Kidnapping: no data Theft: 2015 – 3,815.46 Robbery: 2015 – 86.52 Burglary: 2015 – 920.90 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Sweden 17. SLOVENIA This Central European country ranks 17th for “Safety and Security” on the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report and 11th on the Global Peace Index. But its friendly locals and breadth of kid-friendly attractions are what make Slovenia a great family destination. The country is home to plenty of outdoor activities, interactive museums, and both beaches and mountains dying to be explored. Resources for Families Traveling to Slovenia Slovenia For Kids: Things to Do With Kids in Slovenia Sarah-Jane Begonja of Chasing the Donkey calls attention to some things to look out for while traveling in Slovenia: "Slovenia is as safe as houses for all kinds of travelers - all year round. That being said, traveling to any new place requires you to be conscious of a few things. One stand out about Slovenia is that it can get hectic in the old town of Ljubljana. Be wary of keeping your bags close by and your children in sight, as it’s a small place with many tourists, and it's easy to be pickpocketed by scrupulous thieves taking advantage of day-trippers. Other than that, enjoy all that Slovenia has to offer.” Crime Rates in Slovenia Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 – 74.49 Kidnapping: 2015 – 0.15 Theft: 2015 – 1,102.67 Robbery: 2015 – 11.22 Burglary: 2015 – 495.81 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Slovenia 18. SPAIN Spain has a high “Safety and Security” ranking and a top 30 placement on the Global Peace Index. This European country has easily-accessible transportation and food that will satisfy all ages. Plus, it is filled with family-friendly activities, like beautiful beaches and museums that regularly offer free admission to children under 5. Be warned – though this destination is generally family-friendly, dinner in Spain often takes place late at night. Make sure to give your little ones a nap during the day, and some snacks to tide them over until it’s time to eat. Resources for Families Traveling to Spain The Best and Worst of Barcelona With Kids Crime Rates in Spain Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 – 63 Kidnapping: 2015 – 0.20 Theft: 2015 – 446.10 Robbery: 2015 – 140.02 Burglary: 2015 – 428.06 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Spain 19. NETHERLANDS With a laidback family feel, the Netherlands is perfect for a family vacation. Ranking 19th for “Safety and Security” in the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report and 23rd on the Global Peace Index, the Netherlands offers kids of all ages a safe way to experience enchanting windmills, renowned museums, and a theme park specifically based on children’s fairytales. Resources for Families Traveling to the Netherlands Amsterdam for Families and Children 14 Reasons Why You Should Take Your Toddler to The Netherlands Crime Rates in the Netherlands Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2015 – 281.80 Kidnapping: 2015 – 2.45 Theft: 2015 – 3,214.78 Robbery: 2015 – 56.81 Burglary: 2015 – 1,347.92 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in the Netherlands 20. MOROCCO Rounding out our list of safe countries (and how to visit them as a family) is Morocco. Respecting the U.S. Department of State’s notes below, this northern African country prides itself on tolerance and openness, and children are always a welcome sight. Due to its combination of climates, Morocco offers unique experiences for families unlike any other country on this list, like walks through lush gardens, exciting camel treks, and relaxing afternoons on the Mediterranean coast. Resources for Families Traveling to Morocco Bring ‘Em or Leave ‘Em: Traveling With Kids in Morocco What You Need to Know Before Traveling to Morocco With Kids Crime Rates in Morocco Per 100,000 Population Assault: 2013 – 202.56 Kidnapping: 2013 – 2.91 Theft: 2013 – 322.32 Robbery: 2013 – 44.41 Burglary: 2013 – 26.49 U.S. Department of State Notes on Safety and Security in Morocco There is potential for terrorist violence against U.S. interests and citizens in Morocco. Moroccan authorities continue to disrupt groups seeking to attack U.S. or Western-affiliated and Moroccan government targets. It is important for U.S. citizens to be aware of their surroundings and adhere to security practices, such as avoiding predictable travel patterns and maintaining a low profile. Establishments identifiable with the United States are potential targets for attacks. All U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments. The issue of legal territory status and sovereignty in the Western Sahara remains unsolved. A cease-fire has been in effect between the Moroccan government and the POLISARIO Front since 1991 in the UN-administered area. However, there are thousands of unexploded mines in Western Sahara and in areas of Mauritania adjacent to the Western Saharan border. ADDITIONAL TIPS & RESOURCES To further enhance your feeling of security while traveling with your kids, consider enrolling in the U.S. Department of State’s S.T.E.P. program. This Safe Traveler Enrollment Program allows U.S. citizens to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to get important safety information regarding their destination. It also helps the Embassy or Consulate contact you in case of an emergency involving natural disaster, civil unrest, or your family members back home. For additional warnings on travel conditions for specific countries, you can also check out the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisories. The U.S. Department of State categorizes countries based on levels of precaution that should be taken when traveling to a certain country. Level 1 means you should exercise normal travel precautions, whereas Level 4 indicates you should not travel to that country at this time. The U.S. Department of State also encourages you to check your health insurance to determine whether you’re covered abroad. Explore More Family Travel Content from WorldTrips Travel Destinations for 2022 How to Budget for a Family Trip What to Expect from Healthcare Abroad How to Choose a Family Travel Health Insurance Plan Family Travel Health Insurance KHE2FFFYH6SP-152-1204 WorldTrips is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel Series and StudentSecure international travel medical insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. WorldTrips has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency, Ltd. WorldTrips' Atlas Journey, Atlas Cruiser, and Atlas On-The-Go trip protection insurance products are underwritten by Tokio Marine HCC's U.S. Specialty Insurance Company (USSIC). USSIC is a Texas-domiciled insurance company operating on an admitted basis throughout the United States. Coverage is available to U.S. residents of the U.S. states and District of Columbia only. This plan provides insurance coverage that only applies during the covered trip. You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home, and automobile insurance policies. Coverage may not be available in all states. In the State of California, operating as WorldTrips Insurance Services. California Non-Resident Producer License Number: 0G39705
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