Travelling abroad with children
Visiting other countries and experiencing different cultures can be both rewarding and educational for children. It is important, however, to consider in advance whether the destination will suit all the members of your family, including children. Very small children (less than 18 months) really will be unaware of the holiday destination and so in most cases, they would prefer to be at home in familiar surroundings.
Since October 2004 all children, regardless of age, must obtain an individual Irish passport in their own name. You should ensure in advance of travel that all passports are in date with at least six months to their expiry date.
See our document on passports for children for further information.
If you are travelling with someone else’s child or with a child with a different surname, you may have to explain the relationship between you and the child to immigration officers in the country you are travelling to. If you are travelling alone with your child, you may have to provide evidence that you have the other parent’s consent to travel.
If you are travelling to Ireland with a child under 18, you can find details of required documents from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).
If you are travelling with a child to another EU country, you can find further details of required documents on Europa.eu.
Vaccinations and health
You should seek information and advice from your family doctor (GP) if you will be travelling outside Western Europe, North America, Australia or New Zealand, as vaccinations may be compulsory or highly advisable when visiting some countries. If malaria is a risk in the destination you plan to visit, then everyone including children should take appropriate precautions.
If your child has a history of illness at home, be prepared for a reoccurrence while abroad. Seek advice from your doctor in advance of travel and consider bringing an emergency supply of medication. If you plan to travel within the EU, you should get a European Health Insurance Card for each person travelling before you leave Ireland as this will entitle you to emergency treatment in another EU country while abroad.
Children (especially infants) can be very sensitive to the sun and sunburn is a common cause of discomfort. Heatstroke can occur as a result of very hot temperatures, extreme physical exertion or sunburn. Seek advice from your pharmacy or doctor before you travel about using high factor lotions, creams and sunblock and remember to take sensible precautions and keep children covered up.
Food and water
Trying out new food is part of the experience while travelling abroad but taking sensible precautions can lessen the risk or illness or infection. It is also important that everyone in your party, particularly young children, drink plenty of bottled water if travelling to a hot country.
Encourage your children to stay away from all animals while abroad and never attempt to bring an animal into Ireland on your return. The risk of rabies infection may be quite small but you should seek medical advice immediately in the event of any bites or scratches, especially those from dogs, cats or monkeys, while abroad.
The HSE provides information on it's website on health risks when travelling and on how to prevent illness and infection when abroad. The Department of Foreign Affairs provides travel advice for those planning to travel abroad on its website.