Visiting Mexico With Children
Take your children to Mexico! The perspective alone is worth the extra planning and preparation, but your children will also benefit from a firsthand cultural and language learning experience that is unmatched.
Simple preparation ahead of time will make your family's trip to Mexico a fun and safe experience.
Begin by getting a passport (or appropriate documentation) for your child. The laws governing these requirements have changed significantly and may continue to change. Therefore, do check the U.S. Department of State website for the very latest.
However, obtaining a passport for each member of your family may be a great investment. The cost is generally under $150 and the passport is good for quite a few years.
Next, you will want to be careful and aware of restrictions specific to your destination. For example, a child traveling with just one parent, such as in the case of a divorce, require a notarized letter from the other parent indicating that the child is leaving the U.S. legally.
Your next preparations should be health related. Build up your child's internal (gut) flora by feeding them yogurts containing active cultures. While it is best to avoid water, ice and vegetables washed in water during your visit to Mexico, accidents may happen. Children might brush their teeth and swallow water droplets. Ice may arrive in their sodas and be consumed before you know it! Depending on the age and health of your child, the resulting symptoms are generally minor, although doctor's visits and antibiotic prescriptions may also result.
Many counties in the U.S. run travel clinics for residents heading out into the world. Trained nurses will be able to recommend age-appropriate vaccinations necessary. Some clinics will send travelers on their vacation to Mexico with anti-malarial drugs (rural visits), but if this is deemed unnecessary, be sure to bring along a strong mosquito spray anyway.
Prepare for a safe trip ahead of time. Educate yourself about the particular area you are visiting via the Department of State's website. Travel mainly during the daylight hours and be sure to learn a few sentences in Spanish.
Prepare your little travelers ahead of time by explaining to them that different cultures have different practices and beliefs. My children had to become accustomed to out-of-the ordinary bathroom practices and the fact that they would often be served meals after adults.
Last, but certainly not least, expose your kids to Spanish through videos and CDs, so that the sounds are not completely "foreign" to the ear.
I have never regretted one moment my children have spent in Mexico, and neither, it seems, have they!