Frequently asked questions
sponsor travel preparation & Visit Info
Before you go
- How can I arrange my visit?
- How much will it cost?
- Why do I need to give eight to twelve weeks’ notice for my visit?
- When can I visit?
- Will Children International arrange my travel plans?
- Do I need health insurance?
- Will I need immunizations?
- Will my cell phone work when I am in another country?
- Will I need a passport and visa? How do I get these?
- Do I need to do a background check for a visit?
- Can I visit more than one child?
- My child is no longer in the Children International program. Can I still visit him/her?
- Is there an age limit for visits?
- I'm an LGBTI traveler. Is there anything I should know before traveling?
- When will you tell my child I am visiting?
- Can I write my child and mention my visit?
- I’ll be traveling to my child’s country but won’t have time to meet my child. Can I still bring a gift?
- What gifts should I bring?
- I’m not traveling to my child’s country, but I have a friend/family member who is. Can they visit my child?
- 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?
- What should I do if I need to cancel?
- What happens if Children International can’t approve my visit date?
- What should I pack?
- What’s the weather like in…?
While you’re there/when you arrive
- Do I need to contact anyone after I arrive in my child’s country?
- Who can I contact if I’m in my child’s country and need help/need to cancel? Can I contact Children International’s headquarters in Kansas City?
- How long will the visit last?
- Can the child come to my hotel so we can swim?
- I can’t speak the language! How will we talk to each other?
- I’m fluent in the language. Do I still need an interpreter?
After you return
Before you go
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.
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:
- Receive your criminal background check
- Coordinate the visit with our office in the country where your child lives
- Arrange for staff resources
- Contact and coordinate with your child’s family
- Arrange for the child and/or family members to take time off from work or school
You can visit during the agency's business hours. Contact our Care Team for details.
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.
It’s a good idea. Check with your health insurer about international health coverage for the duration of your trip.
Please check the State Department’s recommendations and requirements for the country you plan to visit. You can also ask your family physician.
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:
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.
Yes. We now require a background check for anyone 18 and older who will be meeting the kids in person, for the safety of the children.
We request that you visit ACS Data Services to complete your criminal background check. Click here to provide your name and email address to start your ACS application. There is an ACS $35 processing fee, which is separate from the Children International visit expenses.
The information being collected will be used solely for the purpose of initiating a criminal background check at the request of Children International. Once this info is submitted, we will send an email with a link that leads to the background check application. Once you’re finished with the application, you must submit payment in the amount of $35 via credit card before the application can be processed. Results of the background check will be made available to Children International. Your information will be kept confidential and secure and shared only with the necessary staff members.
Call our Care Team to discuss it.
Call us to provide us with your former sponsored child's details. We'll let you know if we can arrange it!
No. Just be aware of challenges you might have — especially considering unsanitary environments, unsafe water and unfamiliar food you might encounter.
Check out the U.S. Department of State’s LGBTI Travel Information and review your sponsored child's country information page on the site as well.
As soon as we can after your trip is confirmed!
Yes, after your trip is confirmed.
I’ll be traveling to my child’s country but won’t have time to meet my child. Can I still bring a gift?
Contact our Care Team for details.
I’m not traveling to my child’s country, but I have a friend/family member who is. Can they visit my child?
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?
Please give us a call at 800-888-3089 ASAP. If you are already in the country, please contact the agency directly.
We’ll work with you to find another date or arrange for you to drop off a gift.
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!)
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:
While you’re there/when you arrive
If you confirmed with the office there before you departed, no. However, if you don't arrive in country as planned, please contact the agency office.
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 (8 a.m. to 6 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. Unfortunately, it’s against our Child Protection Policy.
No worries. We’ll provide an interpreter.
Maybe not an interpreter, but we’ll always have a staff member present.
After you return home
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.)
- Share your voice on social! Join the power of (every) ONE and change your Facebook profile picture.
- Tag CI in your photos on social media, but don’t forget to keep these tips in mind when sharing these pictures and information online.
- Encourage your friends and family to check out our website!
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.)
We’ll ask you to take a look at these before your visit, too.