The memories that you make on family holidays, especially when your children are young, are irreplaceable. You and your children will fondly remember your trips together for the rest of your lives, and travelling together can help to strengthen your family bonds.
Holidays also provide an opportunity for your child to try new things, see new sights, and learn more about the world around them, all of which are important aspects of your child’s early education and development.
If the process of planning family holidays seems stressful, don’t let that deter you! There are plenty of tips and tricks that you can try to make your packing, planning, and traveling process run as smoothly as possible.
When travelling with children, safety is, of course, a priority in planning your destination and activities. However a little bit of extra planning can go a long way in ensuring that your family stays safe, happy, and healthy while you are away. Just try a few of these 10 holiday safety tips for families with kids.
Before you leave:
1. Have a family meeting before you travel
A little extra communication can go a long way. Before you leave for your trip, sit down with your family to discuss the activities that you have planned for your vacation and how you can all stay safe for each one. This will help your children to start thinking about safety before you even leave.
You may also find it helpful to have a quick, five-minute conversation at the beginning of each day to ensure that your children remember the things that you discussed before you left.
2. Research your destination
You have likely already researched things to do while on vacation as a part of the process of planning your vacation. However this is different than specifically researching with your children’s’ safety in mind.
If you are traveling in a large city, take a few minutes to read tourist reviews of the various neighbourhoods in town. Do travellers feel safe? Are there areas that are best avoided at night? Are street signs easily found and legible, so that your children can communicate their location to you if you get separated?
Likewise, if travelling to a theme park or vacation destination, research whether there will be tourist centres that your family can use as landmarks in case of an emergency.
3. Pack bracelets or temporary tattoos with your phone number
This tip is particularly helpful if your destination includes walking through crowded city streets or theme parks. Most parents ensure that their child has their phone number memorised; however, if you and your child are separated in an unfamiliar place, the stress of the situation may make it difficult for them to recall your phone number to get in touch with you.
The easiest way to solve this potential problem is to make sure that your child has your phone number with them at all times. One way to accomplish this is to pack bead bracelets or temporary tattoos with your phone number on it, which your child can wear while you travel. (Make sure to pack a few extras!) You could also print business cards that your child can carry in their pocket.
If you are traveling with a small child:
4. Verify the quality of the child-related amenities offered by your hotel/rental property
Not all cots are created equal, and cot safety can be a huge concern for parents traveling with very small children. If you plan to use a cot provided by others while you are away (or any other amenity for small children, such as play pens or high chairs), be sure to verify what is offered and whether it will meet your safety expectations.
If you will be travelling with a rental car, be sure that rental car seats are available if you are unable to bring your own and that the rental car can accommodate the seat.
5. Travel with duct tape
Travelling with a small child comes with its own set of risks, including sharp corners and uncovered electrical outlets. Odds are good that you will not be staying in a child-proofed location while you are away and that you will need to do some child-proofing of your own to make your temporary residence as safe as possible for your child.
One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to simply travel with a roll of duct tape. Duct tape can be used to cover unused electrical outlets, tape washcloths over low, sharp corners, and secure any other potential hazards that you can find in your room. Best of all, unlike bringing individual outlet and corner covers, it takes up very little room in your suitcase and you will not lose any sleep if you accidentally leave it behind!
While you are out and about:
6. Dress your children in bright, easily recognisable clothing
One of the easiest ways to prevent you and your children from becoming separated is to ensure that you always know exactly where they are. Dressing your children in bright colours will make them easier to find if they stray a few steps from you.
You could also take this one step further and dress your children (particularly if they are younger) in matching shirts. You should also consider dressing in easily recognisable clothing yourself, so that your children are also able to more easily pick you out from among the crowd.
7. Take a picture of your children each morning before you leave
Every parent’s’ worst nightmare is getting separated from your children while in an unknown, public place. If your child does get lost, having a picture of them on your phone will give park employees and tourist guides a better reference point of the child that they are helping you to search for.
This will also be a more helpful photo to use than one taken of your child in a different outfit, even if taken recently, if you ask passersby whether they have seen your child since you got separated.
When your plans include a trip to the beach:
8. Pack extra sunblock
This seems like a no-brainer of a safety tip. However sunscreen should be reapplied often – usually every two hours or so, but follow the guidance on the bottle – and as such you may find yourself travelling with an empty bottle partway through your trip. Remember that your children can be burned even on cloudy days, and be vigilant in your sunscreen application.
9. Bring a small pop-up tent for your little one
Very small children are especially susceptible to the sun and the sand kicked up by strong gusts of wind. To avoid any undue discomfort, you can bring a small pop-up tent that your child can play in on the beach. If you bring a tent with a floor, simply fill the bottom of the tent with sand and let your child play inside.
Using this tent will help to keep your child safer, and will also make it easier to keep an eye on them by limiting the ways that they can slip out of your sight.
10. Make sure that your small children are always wearing floatie armbands
One of the greatest risks of bringing your child to the beach is that they could stray too close to the water without your knowledge. You could mitigate this by positioning your towels and umbrellas farther away from the water to decrease the temptation for your children to wander into the tide without you; however this will also place you farther away from the water, making it more difficult to help them if they do.
Make sure that your young children wear life jackets or armband floaties even when playing in the sand, but especially when playing close to the tide, to ensure their safety.
No matter your destination, a little extra preparation before you leave can help to keep your family safe and sound while you travel!