South American Travel with Kids

How to prepare your child for travel in South America

Traveling to South America can be a fun experience for the whole family, but preparing for the vacation can be a daunting task as well. It takes careful planning and research to make children understand the dangers and excitement of South America.

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South America is a gorgeous continent, full of adventures that your kids will love. There's a slant towards outdoor activities like whitewater rafting, hiking, kayaking and horseback riding. Many of the companies that offer vacations to South America have a mandatory age requirement that you need to be aware of before purchasing a deal. Most limit the trip to children aged five or over, so if you have younger children, you might want to look elsewhere. South America is a better choice for families that have kids over the age of 10. The vacation will be expensive and a once-in-a-lifetime trip – it should be something your children will remember forever, not just a few hazy memories and a lot of pictures.

Most of the activities offered in South America have an element of danger that is not appropriate for children of all ages. Consider whitewater rafting down a fast-moving river full of rocks and boulders: if it seems scary or dangerous to you, that feeling is only amplified in your kids. Be aware of that when planning your trip. Try to find activities that everyone can safely enjoy. It may mean skipping the rafting experience and visiting a local village for lunch instead. Look for packages that allow you to make these changes without charging large fees.

You should also prepare your children by making sure they have the proper immunizations as required by the federal government. Your kids should be up to date on their shots, and may need others for certain countries. And before you go, you need to find ways to keep your kids occupied for the long flight to South America, including the smaller planes you might have to use.

One of the best things you can do is make sure that your kids really want a trip to South America. When most kids hear the word "vacation," they automatically think of Disney World and other amusement parks, not horseback riding in a foreign land. It may be your lifelong dream to visit South America, but it might not be your children's dream. Think about a small family vacation, and plan your trip to South America without the kids.

Remember that South America is a beautiful place, but is still foreign to your kids. They should want to go, and be ready for the trip before ever boarding the plane.

By Jennifer Eblin