The benefits of taking your children travelling are very real. Kids who travel become more confident, more adaptable and hardier, say parents who have gone on family holidays. It also exposes them to new experiences and cultures, teaching them that there is more to the world than just Singapore.
Travelling as a family also allows parents to spend quality time with their children outside the routine of daily life, which is good for family bonding.
Unfortunately, the hardships of travelling with kids are also very real – Ah Girl catches a tummy bug and has diarrhoea while also vomiting non-stop, sending you on a mad hunt for a doctor in an unfamiliar city; your luggage is delayed and you run out of diapers and have to buy some at an exorbitant cost at your hotel’s sundries shop; someone pickpocketed your wallet while you were trying to stop Ah Boy from jumping into the fountain in the town square.
Travelling with Children
Here are some tips on how to keep everyone safe and sane while travelling with children.
Plan a relaxed schedule: Children don’t care that you want to check off every attraction on your must-see list; they just want to explore a new place at their own pace. If you set aside plenty of time for the kids to dawdle, everyone is more likely to have a good time.
Book ahead: Make sure you already have hotel and car rental bookings before you leave Singapore. Being spontaneous is fine when you’re travelling without children. But things are not going to end well if the kids are tired and hungry after a day of travelling and you cannot find any rooms for the night.
Be prepared with entertainment: Make sure you have something on hand to stave off boredom on long flights or train rides, like an iPad loaded with cartoons or some toys or handheld puzzles.
Keep the bugs at bay: Eat only at reputable restaurants, drink only boiled or bottled water, and use hand sanitiser zealously. And when there is no place for your kids to wash their hands, or when the cutlery at an eatery looks questionable, a quick wipe with antibacterial wipes may help prevent tummy bugs.
Always have a small first-aid kit: If your kids were to fall ill, some over-the-counter medication like Panadol or antihistamines could tide you over until you find a doctor. Antiseptic wipes, plasters, and a thermometer are also handy to have in your first-aid kit.
Read up on pre-travel care before your trip: If you’re taking your children on a long-haul trip, for example to the United States, it is essential that you take note of the vaccines your children may need and also the potential infections they may be exposed to. While children face the same health risks as their parents, their weaker immune systems can lead to more serious consequences.
Buy travel insurance: When you are caught up with the excitement of trip planning, it’s easy to overlook this vital but less sexy part. But travel insurance could mean the difference between an anxiety-filled trip, or one you take with peace of mind.
Travel insurance works by covering you for unforeseen circumstances that can happen during your trip. It can, for instance, compensate you for flight delays, reimburse your medical expenses if you need to see a doctor on the trip, and provide an emergency 24-hour hotline if you were to lose your passport or are involved in an accident.
Family Travel Insurance and Extra Coverage
It becomes even more crucial to get insurance coverage when you are travelling with children. Here’s why.
Your children’s medical bills will be covered
Young children are more susceptible to falling ill because their immune systems are not as fully developed as those of adults. It will also take time for them to adjust to the food, water, and air in a new environment. Coupled with the stress of travelling, you could have a sick child on your hand.
Medical bills in another country can be unpredictable and exorbitant
This is especially so in a country like the United States, which has one of the highest healthcare costs in the world. But when travel insurance has your back, the only thing you need to be concerned about is making sure your child gets the necessary medical attention.
Some policies also offer post-trip medical coverage, so if your child needs follow-up medical treatments back in Singapore, the bills will be taken care of too.
You can claim for lost or damaged luggage
If you were to lose or damage your luggage during your trip, the insurance company will compensate you up to a limit.
Of course, you intend to watch your belongings like a hawk. But the more children you travel with, the more baggage you have to watch over and the more likely you are to be distracted by the kids.
You won’t lose money on trip cancellations
Unexpected things can force you to cancel your trip – like your child coming down with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) two days before your holiday. Travel insurance will help to cover the costs of flight and hotel cancellations.
If you don’t have travel insurance, it could cost you substantially more to cancel a trip for a big group because it means more money lost on non-refundable airfare and hotel rooms.
Your child will be taken care of
If you were to, touch wood, be hospitalised during the trip because of illness or an accident, who would look after your children? Some insurance plans have a child minder, or child guardian benefit – under this, the insurer will pay the expenses for an adult relative to travel to the country you’re in to take your children back to Singapore. The insurer will also pay for the relative’s accommodation.
Not all insurance plans have this benefit, so be sure to look for one that does. Etiqa and Aviva’s travel insurance are plans with such a benefit.
You get a lifeline in an emergency
All insurance companies have a 24-hour travel hotline for travellers to call in an emergency, like if you require referral to an embassy, an interpreter or are admitted to the hospital. This can be a godsend especially if you are in a country whose language you can’t speak.
Tips for Buying Family Travel Insurance
Convinced you need travel insurance? Here are some tips on getting insurance to protect your trip for worry-free family holiday.
Buy a family plan instead of an individual plan:
Most insurance companies offer family plans which cover two adults and a generous number of children, all for one premium. Aviva’s family plan covers two adults and up to 10 children, for example, while Income’s plan covers two adults and an unlimited number of children.
Buying a family plan is usually cheaper than buying individual plans for every traveller in your group. The table below shows the difference between buying individual plans for two adults and two children versus buying a family plan for everyone.
(Prices are from Income’s website for a seven-day trip to Japan.)
Individual VS Family Plan
Classic individual plans for two adults and two children
Classic family plan
Cost for one adult
Cost for one child
|Cost for two adults
|Cost for two adults and two children
Buy a single-trip plan: Single-trip insurance plans cover just one trip, while annual plans cover multiple trips within one calendar year, no matter how many times you travel.
If you are travelling with your children who are in school, buying single-trip coverage may be cheaper. This is assuming school-going children travel only twice a year, during the long June and December holidays (with the March and September holidays being used to prepare for exams).
|Classic single-trip family plan for a seven-day holiday to Japan
Classic annual family plan for multiple trips in a year to any country in Asia
As you can see, if you travel twice a year, or even four times a year, it’s going to cost you much less to take up a single-trip plan.
Buy a plan for the activities you will be doing
If you are going to take your older kids on activities like white water rafting or skiing, you will need to read the fine print to find a policy that covers that specific activity. This is because insurance policies can vary between the kind of adventurous activities they cover. Some policies cover scuba diving for leisure up to a depth of 30m, but not skydiving, for example. Other policies require you to buy optional riders to cover winter sports like skiing.
Beware of pre-existing conditions
Pre-existing conditions are health conditions that a traveller already has before embarking on the trip. It could be heart disease or high blood pressure in adults, or, for children, asthma, juvenile diabetes or epilepsy.
Most insurance plans do not cover pre-existing health conditions, so if you or your children have health issues, you should look for a policy that covers that. Currently, Income, MSIG Singapore and Tiq by Etiqa have plans that cover pre-existing conditions, so even if your child were to be hospitalised for an asthma attack during the trip, the policy will cover the bills.
Don’t wait till it’s too late to buy insurance
You should buy insurance right after you buy your air tickets or pay your travel agent. This is to ensure that you will be covered for anything that happens, like an illness in the family that forces you to cancel your trip. By the time something happens, it will be too late to buy a policy because no insurer will entertain your claim.
Make sure you know what your insurance covers
Most travel insurance policies will not cover claims for loss or liability if:
- You are under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- You do not take reasonable precautions to protect yourself and your belongings, like leaving them unattended in a public area;
- You travel to a country that has been officially considered a danger such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Sudan or Syria. Check whether Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a travel advisory against going to a certain country; if a travel advisory has been posted and you still carry on with your trip, your travel insurance policy will be voided;
- You are claiming for pre-existing medical conditions unless you specifically buy a policy that covers such conditions;
- Illegal activities
How to speed up your insurance claim
No one ever hopes to make a claim on their travel insurance, but if you do, here’s how to speed up the insurance claims process.
- Most insurers have a timeframe for you to report any incident so don’t miss the deadline.
- Make an official report with the authorities as soon as possible, for example, if you get robbed, head straight to a police station to make a report. Insurers also put a time limit for you to make your official report.
- Then make your claim from your insurer as soon as possible.
- Fill in all claim forms properly and submit all necessary documents to avoid delays in the claim process. If the insurer asks for more information, respond immediately.
- Keep clear records and all documents. Commonly required documents include letters from the airline to prove flight delays, original medical bills, medical reports, police reports for accidents, muggings and theft and photographs of damaged items that you wish to claim for.
Go to a comparison website to look for the best plan
Travel insurance can be bought online from the insurance company’s website, through an insurance advisor, or through comparison websites. Comparison websites allow you to get a glance of travel insurance plans from different insurers and save you the hassle of jumping from one site to another.
A question many people ask when it comes to buying travel insurance is: What is the best travel insurance policy?
The best policy is the one that best meets your needs. Since different insurance policies offer different kinds of coverage, it is important to find one that best covers your family’s lifestyle and travel habits.
Tip: With a comparison tool like GoBear, simply input your travel destination, number of travellers, and travel dates and you'll be able to compare and choose from a wide range of travel insurance plans.
(All prices stated are valid on 4/6/19 and may change.)
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