The United States of America is a great family holiday destination. With so many theme parks, child-oriented museums, beautiful national parks, and super friendly service, it’s not surprising that British families have fallen in love with the country. But don’t be fooled – it’s not our funny-talking twin brother, and there are a fair number of differences between our two lands. When you’re travelling the States with the kids, here are a few important things to remember.
It can get really rather warm
Travelling with youngsters can be tricky at the best of times, but when the temperature reaches well over 40 degrees Celsius in the summer you’ve got a whole extra layer of difficulty. Make sure you’re prepared with suitable clothing, sunscreen, a fan, and any additions to your pushchair that you might need. Ensuring your hotel has air conditioning is a great idea, and remember to keep out of the sun between 11 am and 3 pm when it’s at its hottest.
They need their own visa waiver
Both adults and children need to fill in an ESTA fee waiver, which can be found here www.official-esta.com before entry to the USA. It’s a legal requirement, and failure to do so could result in not being allowed to enter the country, or a pretty hefty fine. Make sure they’re covered in your travel insurance policy too – emergency healthcare can be pricey, and you don’t want a nasty surprise.
Many high-end restaurants don’t allow kids
Some more haute cuisine restaurants aren’t exactly kid-friendly, and they won’t have a highchair or a child’s menu. The best way to be sure is by checking out their website, otherwise a quick chat with the hostess will confirm if children are allowed or not.
And kids aren’t expected to be out in the evening
Once it gets past around 8.30pm, many people will be confused if children are still out. Unlike in many European countries, it’s not usual for people to bring their kids to the bar for a few drinks. On the plus side, many larger hotels offer childminding services by insured individuals, so be sure to ask at reception.
Otherwise, it’s very child-friendly
Other than bars and high-end restaurants, it’s super child-friendly. Many diners have kid’s menus, and some places even allow children under seven to eat free. A lot of restaurants and diners cater for children with toys and colouring in, as well as some child entertainment. And the museums, galleries, and other points of interest all tend to cater to the younger tourist as well as the adults, so it’s a great country for a more educational family visit.
Breastfeeding in public is a hot topic
If you’ve got a little baby, you might find that breastfeeding in public gets you some funny looks and snide comments. It’s still a highly contentious topic, so most women choose to breastfeed in private to avoid the awkwardness, but there are no rules against it.
Visiting the States with kids is an amazing opportunity for adventure and education, it’s just worth keeping these few things in mind on your travels.