People ask me all the time “Do you worry about your children’s safety when you travel?”
Umm, yep. Of course. I don’t know any parent that wouldn’t worry. But guess what? I worry about my children’s safety when I’m not traveling too. So I don’t view safety concerns as an excuse not to travel with my kids. However, I am hyperaware of some easy measures I can take to protect them as much as I can.
Here are 10 things you can do (or not do) to help ensure your children’s safety when traveling:
- DO PRAY
As a parent, I realize I’m not entirely in control (as hard as that is for me to admit!)God is in control.We are thankful for that fact. Our family begins each trip with a prayer as we leave our house. We pray for our safety and health.Whenever my children become anxious over any aspect of our travel- we pray. For example, my son struggles with heights. When we rode the ferris wheel in Seattle, we prayed before boarding. Likewise, I’m not a big fan of flying. I literally pray my way through all turbulence.
- DON’T POST LIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
This is one piece of advice that I can’t stress enough. And it’s one that I learned the hard way. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, etc. make it really easy to share your whole life live.However, in most cases you can delay your social media posts as to not alert anyone to where your children are located.Unless our travel is time sensitive (ex. when we attended the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC), I typically delay my posts by at least a day. Sometimes more if we’re in the same location for multiple days. This takes a little more work, and it may confuse your neighbors. But it’s totally worth it to keep your kids safe!
- DO MAKE SURE YOUR CHILDREN KNOW THEIR PHONE NUMBER For safety reasons, it’s always a good idea to have your children learn their phone number as early as possible!Understandably, not all children are capable of remembering their phone number though.A few things you can do:
*Place an index card in their pocket with your contact information
*Using masking tape or a label, place your phone number inside an article of clothing and make sure your child knows where to locate the number.
*It’s also a good idea if you are traveling internationally to put the contact information for your hotel somewhere with your child. Not everyone is familiar with how to dial an international phone number. Additionally, this will help if there is a language barrier.
- DON’T MONOGRAM THEIR SHIRTS OR BACKPACKS WITH NAMES
This is another lesson I’ve needed to learn over the years, but it’s so important.If you identify your child, you are inviting strangers to be more familiar with them.
A stranger will easily be able to call your child by name, and possibly trick them into thinking they know them. Children will not remember that they have their name on their backpack. They’ll just recognize an adult calling them by name. If you’re like me and LOVE a good monogram, use initials instead!
- DO DRESS YOUR CHILD IN BRIGHT OR UNIQUE/RECOGNIZABLE CLOTHING
This is really helpful for multiple reasons. First, you will have a much easier time picking your child out of a crowd. If your child has on clothing that blends into everyone else, it’s much easier to overlook them in a busy spot.
- DON’T SAY YOUR HOTEL ROOM NUMBER OUT LOUD
Have you ever noticed that the front desk attendant never assigns you to a room verbally? They always write the room number down for your review- typically on the little packet that holds your room keys. This is a standard hotel safety procedure! In fact, if they ever say your room number out loud and you are uncomfortable that someone overheard, you can absolutely ask for a different room assignment.Likewise, make sure that you’re not turning around and saying the number. The first question my kids always ask is “what room number?” And we are very careful to only show them what’s written down. We’ve encourage them to never voice the number for safety reasons!
- DO LET PEOPLE KNOW WHERE YOU’LL BE TRAVELING
For a lot of people, this might sound like a no-brainer or common sense. Why would your friends and family not know your travel itinerary? Furthermore, why is it even important?Let me give you a very recent example that drove home this safety precaution for our family…Last fall we traveled to the Pacific Northwest. We opted to build our itinerary spontaneously based on the weather. One day we decided to venture into Montana. Not one single person in the world knew we were there. We lost cell phone service in a National Forest and found ourselves lost in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully we made it out okay; however, if we’d broken down or experienced any kind of emergency- no one would have realized we were missing. And, worse, when someone finally reported us missing- no one would have looked for us in Montana! While our situation may be extreme, it’s always a good idea to let people know where you are and when to expect to hear from you.
- DON’T BREAK THE RULES OF THE AREA
Some people may be braver than I in this regard, but I would highly recommend adhering to rules/laws when you travel.Most always these “rules” are for your safety and health!For example, it’s strongly suggested that you not drink the local water in many countries. Another travel example might be caution about the food you’re eating. In some cases, it’s perfectly safe to consume local food prepared traditionally. However, especially when considering your kids- use an extra precaution.
- DO BE AWARE OF ALL CHILDREN
As a parent, you have a unique set of eyes. And, likely a more approachable vibe. Does a child look lost? The best thing you can do is alert a police officer. But if that isn’t an option, kindly as the child if they are lost. Throughout our travels, I’ve helped reunite several lost kids with their parents.Also, be aware that child trafficking is a wildly rampant safety concern.Pay attention- not only for your own children’s safety – but others as you travel! If you see a situation that looks unusual or suspicious, please alert someone right away. Most airports have signs and numbers posted in the bathroom if you have concerns. This article by CNN details 9 signs that travelers can look for to recognize trafficking.
- DON’T BE EMBARRASSED TO SPEAK UP
If something doesn’t feel comfortable when you’re traveling, speak up. Don’t let fear of embarrassment or inconvenience prevent you from keeping your children safe.For example, we rode the High Roller Ferris Wheel in Vegas during a very slow time. The kids and I were being ushered into a car with just some random guy. Although it was a bit awkward, I asked the attendant if we could wait and go on the next one. I’m sure that guy ultimately appreciated not being stuck with my kids in a small space for 30 minutes. And, I felt like I’d done my job going overboard to protect my kids. Similarly, if you order an Uber or Lyft and something doesn’t feel right, cancel it! There is no shame in sending the car away and ordering another one!
I hope all of these tips help you feel better about your children’s safety when traveling!
This is, by no means, a comprehensive list. Obviously (like with all other parenting moments) you just have to do your best! Leave a comment with your tips or concerns about keeping your children safe when traveling.
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