Earlier last summer, police arrested a woman at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for allegedly attempting to kidnap two young children. They said she tried to push a stroller away from a mother and also grab the young child who was walking next to the stroller. While the incident was thwarted, it served as an important safety reminder for parents who travel with kids about the need to be safe.
The risk of attempted kidnapping or human trafficking is certainly decreased, but there are so many other possible dangers. How can you balance a desire to experience adventures with your family with keeping your kids safe? Here are several trips how to keep kids safe when traveling :
TAKE IT SLOW AND LEAVE PLENTY OF TIME
When traveling with your family, everything will take longer than you expect, including:
⦁ Checking in at the airport
⦁ Getting through security
⦁ Buying snacks and drinks
⦁ Boarding the plane
⦁ Be sure to get to the airport early and leave plenty of time for things to go wrong.
You definitely don’t want to miss your flight because it took an extra 10 minutes to get your stroller and bottles through security. Then you are stuck at the airport waiting to be rescheduled with unhappy children. Trust me, that’s not fun!
Flying is just one example of taking it slow, though. Leaving extra time applies to all parts of your trip.
When you have the kid along for the trip, you may not be able to squeeze 4 museums, 3 restaurants, a walking tour, and a bike ride all in the same day.
Keep your schedule loose and leave plenty of room for adjustment. A flexible schedule will create less stress for you and your family and lead to a happier trip overall.
BRAND AND TRACK
If you’re worried about your child getting lost, you can brand them by writing your name and phone number on their arm. That way, if they are found, you can be contacted easily. You could also invest in a GPS tracking device. Attach it to your child’s wrist or bag, and follow along via the app.
HAVE A PLAN FOR A LOST KID
Losing a child is a common fear. Make a plan to help minimize the risk and speed your reunification if you are separated.
As soon as your children are old enough, have them memorize your cellphone number. With younger kids who might not be able to remember a phone number, label them somewhere with your contact information. There are a number of products, from temporary tattoos to ID bracelets, that can get the job done.
TEACH CHILDREN TO COME AND TO STOP IMMEDIATELY
Many parents have experienced the heart stopping moment when your toddler darts into a busy parking lot before you have a chance to grab her hand. Keeping that scary moment from happening is actually very simple.
Even young toddlers can learn to come and stop IMMEDIATELY when parents says.
We learned quickly as we tried to teach Enzo to come to us and/or stop immediately that we use the words “come” and “stop” very often- “stop to hit”, “come down to eat”, “stop touching socket”, “come outside with me”, etc. So, when we frantically yelled “STOP!” at a child approaching a potentially dangerous situation, he often took several more steps or simply hesitated. Stop wasn’t a word that made our child realize him should immediately stop moving his feet. I needed new words. What if a child actually stepped into that road before you could stop him? You need to choose the words that will make an impact on your child.
BABY CARRIAGE VS. STROLLER VS. SLING
This is a common dilemma when traveling with kids and there’s no easy answer. A lot of it depends on where you’re going. Will the streets be even and paved or will there be potholes and off-roading involved? Will it be extremely humid or fairly cool? What is your child used to?
An all-around good option is a light stroller. They’re easy to travel with and can be taken right up to the gate; they can be used as a temporary bed for afternoon naps; they’re light and breathable but can also be insulated with blankets and a rain cover; and they’re good on almost all terrain.
VACCINATE YOUR KIDS
We vaccinate our kid (and us) against diseases for the countries we plan to visit. For this, check the CDC's very comprehensive list of required vaccines and tips.
As soon as you are reunited with your child it’s important to remain calm. Take them somewhere less crowded, give them a hug and reassure them that they’re safe. Once they’ve calmed down, you can remind them to stay close to family members and not wander off alone. With a little luck, your kids will be more likely to remember your safety guidelines and avoid it happening again.
GET WORLD TRAVEL HEALTH INSURANCE
Make sure you’re adequately covered in case of an unfortunate accident or emergency. Be sure to read the fine print. Some activities may not be covered by travel insurance; you may want to purchase extra coverage to ensure adequate protection.
CARRY MEDICAL SUPPLIES, ESPECIALLY MOSQUITO REPELLENT
We always take with us a first aid kit, as well as strong mosquito repellent when visiting a tropical country where mosquitoes are known to carry dengue fever or malaria. (Note: Anti-malaria drugs are available but come with their own issues. We opt for prevention with insect repellent.)
BE CAREFUL OF FOOD CHOICES
This is especially important in countries where health regulations may not be as prevalent. Still get into the culture, and enjoy the street food, but make sure it looks fresh, healthy and it’s frequented by the locals.
ALWAYS HAVE SNACKS
You never know when the time between meals will get extended. It could be a delayed flight, unexpected traffic getting to your hotel, or a tour that takes a bit longer than you thought it would.
The food at your destination may be quite different than what your kids usually eat. They may happily order lunch and then eat 2 bites of it because it wasn’t what they were expecting. An hour or two later on your afternoon museum visit, you’ll have a hungry kid to deal with.
It doesn’t hurt to have snacks for you and other adults traveling with you as well. Adults can get just as hungry as kids can.
DRESS IN BRIGHTLY COLORED CLOTHES
It's much easier to keep track of your children in a crowded street if they’re wearing colorful clothing. Dress them in bright, distinct colors during the day so you can easily spot them in a crowd. You could even liven up their evening with some fun multi-colored glow sticks which will serve as a fun and easy way to identify them in the dark.
Of course, you have your flights booked for your trip, but your pre-booking shouldn’t end there. You might be used to showing up at a destination, getting a feel for the town, and picking a place to stay. This doesn’t work with kids.
When you arrive in a new place, you’ll want to go straight to your lodging, drop off bags, and give kids a chance to rest if necessary. This is especially true if it’s been a long journey to get to your destination.
You should know where you’re staying before you arrive. If you want a bit of flexibility in location, book the first night or 2 ahead of time, and decide where to stay for the rest of the trip once you’re settled.
Pre-booking doesn’t end with flights and lodging, either. Anything you can book ahead of time is 1 less thing you have to worry about while trying to keep your whole family fed, amused, and happy on your trip.
WATCH THE HEAT
The heat can quickly wipe a child out and cause them to feel ill. Protect them from the sun, keep them cool and explore early morning and late evening on hot days.
Seat your child in the middle
Sit your child in the middle or next to the window on public transport, just in case you fall asleep and they don’t wander off.
MORE SAFETY TIPS :
Avoid visiting locations during their busiest times.
Take a photo of your family at the entrance of museums and events. Not only does it serve as a great memory, you’ll also have a photo of what each person in your family is wearing in case you need to report one lost.
Keeping kids safe while traveling and adventuring doesn’t have to be scary. Teach, practice, and implement these simple safety strategies keep visiting crowded locations with children stress free and enjoyable.
Maybe you have some other tips to keep kid safe? Let us know in comment below :)