My husband and I plan to take my two stepdaughters to Mexico sometime in the next year. I am a crazy planner when it comes to booking trips in advance, so I did my research. Lucky for you, I will now share my newfound wisdom with you, along with some tidbits I learned on my own travels out of the United States! While it may seem that traveling abroad with your stepkids is essentially the same as traveling with kids in any family, that is not the case. There are several things to keep in mind when traveling out of the country with your stepkids, whether your spouse travels with you or not.
If you want to end up a kidnapping suspect in a foreign country (I hear Mexican jails are nice) or have Customs and Border Protection agents refuse entry and prevent you from traveling, then ignore my advice.
If you would rather travel glitch-free and enjoy a calm, peaceful vacation, these are the travel documents I recommend you bring for your stepkids:
- Passports for each one of your stepkids. When your spouse applies for a passport for your stepchildren, their other birth parent must be present at the passport agency in person as well. Apply for passports at least 3 months in advance of your trip to ensure you receive them before the date of travel.
- A signed and notarized letter from their birth mother, unless she does not have any shared custody. If that is the case, then you must bring court documents proving custody. The notarized note should state, “I acknowledge that my wife/husband/ex-husband etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my permission to do so.” *If you are traveling without your spouse, you must also obtain the same notarized and signed note from him/her. On top of that, you should have a note from them that states that you are allowed to make emergency medical decisions for them.
- Birth certificates for your stepchildren.
- Check the Department of State website for any additional requirements or travel warnings. I would do this for any trip abroad, whether by yourself or with others.
I would keep all of yours and your stepkids’ documents locked safely in your hotel room or resort room if you have the option. If not, try to keep it in a secure place on your person at all times. I had someone steal just a bikini out of my resort room once, so definitely protect your valuables!
Planning Activities that Benefit Your Stepfamily
A great way to bond as a blended family is to take a family trip together with your stepkids. The activities you plan for the trip can create lasting memories and help build a better relationship with your stepkids, as well as promote their feelings of security in their relationship with their biological parent.
If you stay at a resort, I suggest staying at a family-friendly, all-inclusive one. These types of resorts usually have many activities suited for kids of all ages that allow the kids to do things they enjoy while you break away for a little bit to do some adult-oriented activities, such as a nice relaxing couples massage or scuba diving with your hot babe of a husband. There are also many things you can do as a family to balance out alone time, such as snorkeling, tours, entertaining shows, or whatever family activity they have for where you are traveling.
As a stepmom, disappear a couple times to allow for some one-on-one time for your stepkids with their biological parent. This gives them some time to feel secure in their parent’s relationship and to know they are just as important as you are in their parent’s eyes. This also allows you time to go shopping, drink a nice margarita, get a facial, and many other scenarios that are making me sad I am not on this trip right now!
Anywhere you travel, just try to balance out your activities between what meets your stepkids’ interests, things you and your spouse like, and definitely as many things as possible you can all do together! Keep in mind that depending on where you travel, alone-time without the kids may not be an option for safety reasons.
The only other advice I can give you for traveling with your stepkids is to make many beautiful, lasting memories that you all will cherish forever…and take lots of pictures!