By the end of January, many of us are feeling the full weight of winter. With a few months of frigid temperatures already under our belt, and likely a few months to go, trading bitterly cold arctic blasts for balmy tropical breezes can be a very appealing idea. And, with March break just around the corner, many parents are gearing up to travel with their children, whether throughout Canada or abroad. Yet, for separated parents (or parents who are together but travelling on their own with children) there are considerations beyond just booking flights and hotels, and planning a fun itinerary to consider when travelling with children.
Here are the top 5 things to remember when travelling on your own with children:
1. If you’re heading out of Canada, make sure your child has a passport. Many separation agreements state that one party will apply for the child’s passport. If you’re not the parent responsible for obtaining the passport, talk to the other parent well in advance of your trip to ensure the child has an up-to-date passport to avoid last-minute headaches and potential travel nightmares!
2. If you’re staying in Canada, make sure you have the child’s health card or a certified copy of the card. Again, many separation agreements establish how the child’s health card will be treated – often one parent keeps it and provides the other parent with a copy to ensure the card does not get lost when the child is travelling between parents. If you’re travelling with the child, you should have either the card or a copy with you in case the child needs emergency treatment – particularly if you are travelling within Canada.
3. Discuss your travel plans with the child’s other parent. Even if you don’t require the other parent’s consent to travel, you should provide them with a detailed itinerary at least a week or so before the trip, including the names of any airlines and travel times, accommodation including address and telephone numbers, and details of how to get in touch with you during the trip. This should help assuage any worries or concerns the other parent might have about the upcoming trip, especially if they know they can get in touch in case of emergency.
4. Provide the non-travelling parent with a draft letter authorizing you to travel with the child. The non-travelling parent should execute the letter and have it notarized before returning it to the travelling party to take with them on the trip. This is most important when travelling outside of Canada and should help prevent any issues from arising at customs with respect to your authority to travel alone with the child.
5. If you have a separation agreement of your own, review it before travelling to make sure you’ve complied with all the relevant terms. The beauty of separation agreements is that the parties can tailor them to include all the terms that are most important to them. Your separation agreement might have specific requirements related to travel, or different timelines from those suggested in this blog post, so make sure you double check your individual terms before you travel.