Traveling can be a fun experience, whether it’s going to a new city or just to the grandparents’ house. But with fun and excitement can come worry and fear about keeping family safe during the vacation, especially in areas that you aren’t familiar with. And the anxiety levels can be increased if you have children. But there are many ways to stay safe and have fun while on vacation.
Photography by Roderick Eime
Have a Plan
This plan can be as detailed as you need it to be – think of everywhere you’ll go on your trip and what you might need to keep the kids safe – passports, car seats, medication, plug covers, life jackets, etc.. Create an itinerary of where you are going to be and where and share it with a family member or trusted friend. Allow wiggle room in those plans as plans don’t always go right, but let everyone know that if any changes need to be made the entire family needs to be aware of it.
If you or your kids are prone to scrapes or motion sickness, bring a first aid kit with you. In it, have all the essentials like band-aids, Neosporin, prescriptions, etc. You can never be too prepared; and if you are going to places you’ve never been, having these readily available will help avoid extra trips into unfamiliar territory. It’s also good to know where the closest clinic is to your hotel for emergency situations.
Have a Phone
Having a ready phone is pretty easy to do nowadays, and it will make communication with separated parties much easier. Make sure that everyone has a phone or is with someone who has one. This is very helpful if you ever get split up from your family either intentionally or unintentionally. If you do plan to split up, ensure that every group has a least one phone and to regularly check in with each other. Location-based apps can also help you keep track of your youngsters while on vacation, but ensure the app you are using is secure so strangers can’t locate your kids, too.
In Case of Separation…
Before going out, go over the plan of what to do in the event that you are separated. Pick a public place to meet. Make sure that your children all know your cell phone number, even the younger ones without phones. Also, point out the front desk, security, information center, etc. to your children; so that if they don’t have a phone, they have a place to go that can help get in contact with you.
Before heading out on your trip, take everything out of your wallet or purse, except what you absolutely need. Keeping these clutter-free will reduce the chance of losing a credit card or any keys. If you are planning on traveling in busy cities, hold your purse close to your body and keep it zipped shut at all times. Place your wallet in the front pocket of your pants. If you still feel unsafe about your money, a good idea is to wear a money pouch under your clothes. This is the safest place to store your money.
Before going on a trip, don’t announce when and where you will be traveling on social media sites. Remind your kids to keep this information secret. If you must tell someone, tell a trusted friend or family member offline. You don’t know who is looking at your page and will see an opportunity to rob your house in your absence.
Keep an Eye on the Kids
Especially for families with small children and/or many children, this can be a hard thing to do. Children are prone to wander off or engage in conversations with strangers. Before leaving for your trip, sit down with your kids and go over what to do in bad situations – if you haven’t had the “Stranger Danger” conversation yet, now is the perfect time. If you have young kids, keep them in a stroller or teach them to always hold your hand. If your child is a little more mobile, a child leash can be useful. But teach them to remain by your side while in public and to avoid any and all strangers.
Prepare Snacks and Water
When going out for a day of exploring, prepare a small snack and water for yourself and for your kids. Not only will this save you money on food but will ensure that your kids have something that they like to eat. This will also curb any crankiness caused by dehydration or hunger.
When traveling to places with a large group, wearing a distinguishing color can help your family members find each other if you are ever separated. Bright neon colors or just matching shirts are great choices for all ages. Not only can your kids easily find you if they become lost in a crowd, but you’ll be able to give security a very specific description of what your child is wearing.
In your wallet or on your phone, keep a recent photo of all your family members. If they get lost, you have a current photo to show security guards or anyone willing to help you in your search. You can even take photos with your phone right before you leave, so you have a photo of what each child is wearing. Should a child become lost, a detailed description of what they were wearing helps immensely with finding them. Besides, what kid doesn’t enjoy starting each day of vacation with a selfie?
If your hotel has a pool, don’t assume that there is a lifeguard on duty. Go with your kids to the pool as this is not only a way to make sure they are safe, but this is a great bonding activity. Even if you don’t plan on going into the water, you can sit on the side with a book or even take photos of your kids while they play.
Going on vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. By having a detailed plan and keeping open communication about where everyone will be, you can ensure that your whole family will have fun and stay safe.