AAA Offers Tips and Tricks of Family Travel

While family vacations create lasting memories, most parents can attest that traveling with children does not always prove to be an easy feat. To help simplify the process, Summer Travel Series, AAA is revealing important tips and tricks of family travel.

“Family travel takes many different forms during the summer and may include children traveling with one or both parents, with grandparents or alone to visit geographically separated family members,” said Amy Moreno, director of travel services for AAA Arizona. “Therefore, it’s imperative that parents and caregivers are equipped with the necessary documentation to ensure a hassle-free vacation.”

To help families identify the required documents for their specific travel plans, AAA Travel experts would like to offer the following guidance:  

  • Get authorization to travel abroad. All children must have a valid passport to travel internationally by air. For minors younger than 16, both parents must provide consent authorizing passport issuance. If traveling to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean by land or sea, children up to age 15 only need proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. However, AAA urges all travelers to obtain a full passport in the event an emergency requires re-entry to the U.S. by air. According to the Department of State, nearly 4 million minor passports have been issued from October 2010 to March 2012.

  • Know cruising dos and don’ts. Cruise lines generally require at least one adult who is a legal parent or guardian per stateroom to prevent children from cruising alone. If a child is sailing with only one parent, or noncustodial adults, or has a different last name than the responsible legal adult, it is recommended that travelers obtain a notarized letter of authorization, as this will likely be required by the cruise line.

  • Ensure medical needs will be covered. When a child is separated from his or her parents, receiving emergency medical care can become complicated. As such, the child should carry a medical proxy, which is a notarized letter from the parent(s) granting permission to authorize emergency care, including dental emergencies. The letter should include a permission statement, any allergies or health issues, the child’s health insurance information and social security number, and full legal names of the child and accompanying adults. If the child remains at home while a parent travels, the medical proxy should be supplied to the child’s caregiver.  

  • Know the rules of flying solo. Most airlines offer fee-based unaccompanied minor programs that facilitate air travel for children without an accompanying adult. Policies and procedures of these programs, including age requirements and fees, vary by airline. However, most airlines require an authorized adult escort the child to and from the departure and arrival gates. In flight, unaccompanied minors are under the care of the cabin crew.

“A little bit of planning and preparation can go a long way to ensure the safety and security of children embarking on trips this summer,” added Moreno.

In addition to navigating required documentation, AAA can help families prepare for summer trips in a variety of other ways. Membership grants travelers access to destination specific-information from travel experts, discounted tickets to theme parks and attractions, free notary services and free or discounted passport photos, depending on membership level.

AAA’s Summer Travel Series will be distributed each Thursday in May leading up to Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer. For more information on summer travel, visit AAA.com/travel.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.