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Passing through customs is always an item of concern on a family vacation abroad. Customs problems — being pulled out of line for extra scrutiny, having luggage confiscated or even being detained — can be inconvenient, taking time out of the family’s travel time, but it can also be frightening, especially for younger children. In some cases, a customs problem can even leave families with a cancelled vacation — something no family wants to deal with. Luckily, most travel insurance companies offer some sort of coverage for trips that are ended short because of a customs problem. However, it is better to use these tips to move through customs quickly without a problem.

The first tip might seem obvious, but it’s true: carefully read the information about what can and cannot be taken through the customs line before going through customs. Different countries have different expectations regarding what can and cannot be taken through customs. However, most countries have an English-language version of these requirements. Travelers need to ask questions about items on the list that seem confusing before they travel. Then, they need to ensure that they do not have any restricted items on them upon entry to the country.

Another way to help the trip through customs go more smoothly is to focus. This can be challenging, especially for families who have just completed a long plane or boat trip with small children. However, it helps to remain serious and focused on the task at hand. Parents can explain this to their children too, telling children that they must wait for snacks and rest time until after they have passed through customs. Part of focusing is being prepared for the customs officer. Paperwork should be filled out ahead of time — on the plane or boat in most cases — and passports and/or other identification should be ready to present.

Finally, families can start their family vacation off to a better start by purchasing coverage from travel insurance companies in case something does go wrong. Most travel insurance packages cover issues like luggage loss and trip cancellation or delay. This means that families who experience trouble at customs and have to start their trip at a later date may receive financial compensation which will allow them to take another trip or to make up for the delay. Without travel insurance, many families would not be able to start their trip again because of cost.

In most cases, the customs process goes smoothly. But there are some cases when it does not. To avoid those cases, individuals should be prepared to pass through customs and have travel insurance in case it still does not go well.

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