Frequently asked questions

sponsor travel preparation & Visit Info

Before you go
While you’re there/when you arrive
After you return
Important info

Before you go

How much will it cost?

Each trip has its own unique expenses, but you should make sure to budget for:

  • Meals with your child, your child’s family and your visit hosts (a few CI staff members)
  • Any activities planned with your child (and possibly your child’s family)
  • $100-$150 to help cover set-up and basic transportation costs for these special visits.

You’ll also need to arrange and budget separately for your airfare, hotel and transportation to and from the airport.

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Why do I need to give six weeks’ notice for my visit?

There’s a lot to coordinate. (That’s why we don’t want you to purchase airline tickets or pay for your hotel too early.) We need time to:

      • Coordinate the visit with our office in the country where your child lives
      • Arrange for resources, such as guides, translators and drivers
      • Contact and coordinate with your child’s family
      • Arrange for the child and/or family members to take time off from work or school

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Do I need health insurance?

It’s a good idea. Check with your health insurer about international health coverage for the duration of your trip.

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Will my cell phone work when I am in another country?

Check with your cell phone provider before you leave to find out. It’s an expensive mistake to discover too late that you don’t have coverage!

Here’s some info for major cell providers:

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Why can’t I visit on a weekend or holiday?

For one, it’s a lot safer for you to visit during regular weekdays. (Crime is often greatest during the evenings and on weekends.) Second, we get a lot of sponsors who visit. So, we want to make sure our staff members who work with our kids have time off to spend with their families.

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Will Children International arrange my travel plans?

We can recommend hotels, but our Care Team ambassadors – as awesome as they are! – don’t have the type of expertise that a travel agency can provide.

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Will I need immunizations?

It’s likely. Ask your family physician. You can also check the State Department’s recommendations for the country you plan to visit.

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Will I need a passport and visa? How do I get these?

Probably a passport; maybe on the visa. Check with your local government to find out for sure. If you live in the United States, visit www.travel.state.gov.

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Do I need to do a background check for a visit?

No. (We do, however, check all visiting sponsors against public records for criminal convictions, including the National Sex Offender Registry.)

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Can I directly contact the office in the country where my child lives to arrange my visit?

They’re awfully busy taking care of your child. Please call us, instead. We will have you contact the agency three weeks before your visit, however, to confirm details. 

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Is there an age limit for visits?

No. Just be aware of challenges you might have – especially considering unsanitary environments, unsafe water and unfamiliar food you might encounter.

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When will you tell my child I am visiting?

As soon as we can after your trip is confirmed!

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I’ll be traveling to my child’s country but won’t have time to meet my child. Can I still bring a gift?

Sure! Contact us to make the arrangements.

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I’m not traveling to my child’s country, but I have a friend/family member who is. Can they visit my child?

You bet. Give us a call. Then, we’ll help with the rest.

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I’ll be traveling to a country where Children International works, but I don’t sponsor a child there. Can I visit a CI community center?

Most definitely! Call the Kansas City office so we can plan for your visit.

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My child is no longer in the Children International program. Can I still visit him/her?

We’ll try to help make that happen! Call us to provide info so we can work to locate your child. We’ll let you know if we can arrange it!

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Can I visit more than one child?

Of course! Please indicate this when you call.

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What should I do if I need to cancel?

Please give us a call at 800-888-3089 ASAP. If you are already in the country, please contact the agency directly.

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I’m traveling in less than six weeks. Can I still visit?

Maybe. Get in touch with us ASAP. We’ll do our best to accommodate your request. But, we’ll be honest – it can be really difficult on such short notice.

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What happens if Children International can’t approve my visit date?

We’ll work with you to find another date or arrange for you to drop off a gift and meet the staff.

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I’d like to visit Little Rock. What do I need to know?

Visiting a child in Little Rock is a little different than an international visit. Give us a call and we can provide more details! 800-888-3089.

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What should I pack?

Got some fancy shoes to show off? A new Apple Watch? Best to leave those at home. When dressing for your visit, choose modest and comfy over stylish. Every culture is different, and what’s acceptable at home might not be where your child lives. Jeans and a plain T-shirt are perfect. No shorts, please! Skirts? Keep them on the long side – knee-length minimum. (Got a specific question about the country you’re visiting? Give us a call! We’ll be happy to discuss!)

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What’s the weather like in…?

We get asked this question a lot, and we know weather is really important when it comes to packing for your trip. We’ve found some great information to help you prepare. Just click on the country you’re visiting to learn more:

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What gifts should I bring?

You want to shower some extra goodies on your child? Yay! Indulge your generous heart! Just be sure to run your gift by a CI staffer first. And, remember: You’ll probably have time to shop with your child, so that can be a fun experience, as well. (Plus, you don’t have to pack a bunch of bulky extras!)

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While you’re there/when you arrive

Do I need to contact anyone after I arrive in my child’s country?

If you confirmed with the office there before you departed, no.

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Who can I contact if I’m in my child’s country and need help/need to cancel?

If you are in country, it would be best if you contacted the agency directly. However, we’re here for you:

  • Call 816-942-2000 (7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT, Monday-Friday)
  • Chat online in real time at Children.org (8 a.m.-4 p.m. CT, Monday-Friday)
  • Email us at children@children.org.

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How long will the visit last?

One day.

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Can the child come to my hotel so we can swim?

No. Unfortunately, it’s against our Child Protection Policy.

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Can I meet my child’s family?

Yes! Whoever can arrange to be out of school or work will be eager to meet you!

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Can I bring gifts for my sponsored child?

Definitely! But, if you want to save yourself some hassle, wait to buy them when you go shopping with your child. You’ll have better luck ensuring you get something age and culturally appropriate.

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I can’t speak the language! How will we talk to each other?

No worries. We’ll provide an interpreter.

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I’m fluent in the language. Do I still need an interpreter?

Maybe not an interpreter, but we’ll always have a staff member present.

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Can I give cash to my child while I am there?

No, and here’s why: It’s honestly not safe for you or your child to carry cash in most situations. (It puts you both at risk for thieves – which is why we encourage use of credit cards and storing them in one of those nerdy hidden fanny packs!)

If you just can’t imagine not providing something more than a couple of gifts, you can make a donation to the family through Children International. We’ll gladly handle the shopping and will send you a follow-up with all the details (including photos if your gift tops $100!).

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Can I write my child and mention my visit?

Yes! Do it!

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After you return home

My child sent me a friend request on Facebook. What should I do?

Click “Ignore.” Yeah, that just feels wrong, we know. But, for your safety and theirs, we don’t allow direct contact between sponsors and kids. (Read more in our Child Protection Policy.)

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What should I do when I get back?

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Important info

CI’s child-protection policy

Reading this will help you understand some of our rules for your trip. (We’ll also ask you to sign a copy upon your arrival saying that you agree to abide by the rules.)

Consent and liability forms

We’ll ask you to take a look at these before your visit, too. 

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