Almost 100 million Americans plan to take family vacations each year.
If you're one of the millions of people planning to pack up and travel with kids, learning tips for traveling safely is likely one of your priorities.
Traveling with kids requires a little more preparation and thought about potential dangers and safety issues than traveling with adults.
Make your trip safer and more enjoyable by following these 10 safe travel tips.
1. Make Contact Info Easily Available
Being able to reconnect with a child who gets lost is important for traveling safely. One way to do that is by ensuring your contact information is readily available if your child gets separated.
Teach your child your full name from a young age. Practice your telephone number with your child. If your kids get separated, they can provide this information to someone who can help them.
It's also a good idea to have the information written somewhere that can stay with your child. This can help if your child is too young to remember the information or if your child is scared and panics.
An ID bracelet with your contact information is one way to provide the information. You can also get temporary tattoos made with your contact information. Slip a card with your contact info inside your child's travel bag or pocket as another source of the information.
2. Practice Situations
Discussing and practicing potential dangerous travel situations can help your kids handle them if they happen.
One major risk is getting separated from your kids. Work out a plan in case your child gets lost or separated from you. Role-play how you want your child to handle the situation, such as looking for a security guard or staying where they are.
Practice other situations that relate to your destination or situation so your child is prepared for the possibilities.
3. Research Your Destination
Being aware of what's happening in your destination can help you prepare for potential dangers.
Some areas naturally have higher threats. City areas might have higher crime rates than rural destinations. Some areas might have wildlife that's a danger, such as alligators or bears.
Educate yourself on how to stay safe based on those local risk factors. You might avoid certain areas of a city or only venture out during daylight hours.
Current events can also have an impact, whether you travel domestically or internationally. Protests that break out due to something that happened in the area could increase the potential for danger.
It's also important to understand local customs and laws, especially when traveling to another country. Ignoring those customs and laws could put you at risk or make you a target as an obvious outsider.
When traveling internationally, pack clothing that fits with the local customs and way of dressing. It's easier to blend in and minimize yourself as a target of pickpocketing and other crimes.
4. Plan Your Travel
If you're taking an adult road trip, you can be a little more flexible and spontaneous.
With kids, whether you're driving or flying, you need a solid plan to keep everyone safe.
For road trips, plan your route, giving yourself ample time to get there. Know where you can safely stop for breaks and meals.
If possible, plan your trip so you arrive during daylight hours. This makes it easier to find your accommodations safely.
If you're flying, time the flight to fit your child's schedule. If you fly when your child is normally crabby, the trip will likely be more difficult than necessary.
5. Pack Medical and First Aid Supplies
Even when you take travel precautions, you can't prevent every injury or medical situation. Being prepared with supplies can help you manage those situations if they happen.
Create a travel first aid kit with basic supplies, including bandages, first aid ointment, tweezers, gauze, wipes, and instant-cold ice packs.
Include specific medications or medical gear related to conditions your family has.
Pack general health care aids and protection, such as antacid, insect repellent, sunscreen, antihistamines, and pain reliever.
6. Prepare for Medical Emergencies
Before you leave, verify that your child is current on necessary vaccinations.
If you're traveling abroad, your destination might have extra vaccination requirements or recommendations. Check on the recommendations early to ensure you have time to schedule an appointment.
Check your insurance coverage when you're away from your home area. Make sure you understand how the out-of-network coverage works. Bring copies of your insurance cards in case something happens that requires medical care.
It's also a good idea to create a travel medical file that includes any medical information about family members. This can be especially important if anyone has special concerns, such as medication allergies or a health condition that requires special care.
Research the type of medical facilities available at your destination. Find the nearest hospital to where you're staying. This saves time if you have an emergency that requires an ER visit.
Look for urgent care facilities nearby in case you have a less urgent medical need. If anyone in your family is on prescription medications, find a nearby pharmacy in case you lose the medication and need a refill.
7. Childproof Your Accommodations
If you have young kids, childproofing your hotel room or vacation rental can cut down on potential accidents.
Check windows and doors to balconies to ensure they're locked.
Hotel doors going into the hallway lock automatically from the outside, but that doesn't stop your child from wandering out of the room. Use any other locks and safety latches to secure the door to keep your child from escaping.
Look for sharp edges or corners on beds and other furniture. Move things that could be tripping hazards. Cords and wires can be a tripping or strangulation hazard.
Take along childproofing gadgets, such as door locks, corner protectors, and outlet covers.
8. Assess Potential Dangers
Consider your destination and planned itinerary to assess the potential dangers that could cause problems.
If you're planning a backpacking trip, you need to think about things such as clean water to drink, power sources, clothing for the conditions, and first aid in case of falls.
If you're visiting the Grand Canyon or heading to the mountains, kids might not understand the dangers of getting too close to the edge.
A trip to the ocean puts you at risk for riptides or jellyfish stings.
Consider the age of your kids and the potential dangers of your destination to make the trip safer. Anticipate your child's maturity level and behaviors when figuring out if an activity is safe.
If your child is very active, has poor body control, and doesn't pay attention to the surroundings, hiking along a dangerous mountain trail with cliffs and no barriers probably isn't the best option.
9. Teach Your Child Where to Get Help
Give your child the tools needed in case of getting separated or in case of an emergency by discussing who can help.
You should already have a plan with your child if you get separated. But there could be a situation in which you need help. You might have a medical emergency or fall and get hurt.
Discuss the adults in different situations that can help, such as the front desk staff at the hotel, police officers, security guards, or employees of a store or other locations you're visiting. You might also suggest going to another parent for help if your child can't find an employee.
It's also a good idea to have someone who's not on the trip with whom you keep in contact. Leave your itinerary with someone you trust at home. Text or call the person periodically during the trip to let them know that everyone is safe.
10. Avoid an Overloaded Schedule
You want to experience as much as possible when you visit a new place, but cramming too much into your schedule can be a problem.
When you schedule too many things, you might rush to get going. You could hurry out of your hotel room and forget important things.
You might miss potential dangers when you're hurrying to the next stop on the itinerary.
The kids could feel overwhelmed, crabby, or tired, especially if you have younger kids who still nap. Their emotions can influence you and cause you to let down your guard.
A better option is to stick with one or two planned activities each day with lots of time to get there and explore. You'll have more time to enjoy the experiences, and you can stay alert and attentive.
Have a few extra activities in mind near your planned activities for the day. That gives you options if you still have energy to do more.
If everyone has reached their limit for the day, you can head back to your hotel and relax. You might end up doing fewer things, but you'll enjoy the trip more and be better able to keep your family safe.
Start Traveling Safely With Kids
A family vacation is the perfect way to make memories and see the world with your kids. Traveling safely with our tips helps you prevent potentially dangerous situations while you explore.
Check out our collection of gadgets, including camping gear and car accessories, to make your trip a little easier and safer.