Traveling with children can be as pleasant as it is stressful. Sometimes parents are traveling with their children out of necessity and other times for enjoyment. No matter the reason, or the duration of travel, it is important that we are aware of travel-related safety risks and take precautions to avoid injury and illness.
Below are 7 safety considerations for traveling with children:
Emergency Contact Information
It is important that another family member or friend is aware of your travel plans and has access to necessary documents if needed. Provide a copy of your trip itinerary as well as contact information for the person staying behind. Provide a “hear-by” date so that the emergency contact knows when to sound the alarm if they have not heard from you. Depending on your relationship with your emergency contact, it may also be beneficial to notify them where you store important documents at home in case of a true life-threatening emergency in which the parents are unable to speak for their children.
First Aid Kit
This one may seem like a no-brainer but having a well-stocked first aid kit is an important part of safe travel. However, your kit should be stocked beyond the typical bandages and fever-reducing agents. According to the CDC, diarrhea is the most common illness experienced by children who are traveling abroad. Be sure to pack some medications for the treatment of diarrhea. Also consider something to treat constipation as well as this is a very common, less dangerous, but highly uncomfortable side effect of travel for many adults and children.
Identify Potential Sources of Healthcare
Take some time before you leave to identify local hospitals and extended-hours urgent care systems. Doing the work beforehand can help alleviate stress in the face of an emergency. Make sure to have your insurance cards on hand as well. Modern technology allows us to store these on our phones. Even though hospitals and urgent care facilities will likely still see you in the face of an emergency, it is again one less thing to worry about.
Children will be outside their normal environment and are at greater risk of getting lost when traveling. Their excitement and curiosity may lead children to explore without first asking permission, meaning we as parents must be extra vigilant in new environments for our children. Also, to reduce wandering behavior, have a discussion with your child beforehand about how important it is to notify you if they want to explore somewhere.
Travel and vacation with children are often associated with water activities – whether that be at the beach, a friend’s pool, or even in urban environments with rivers. According to the CDC, drowning is the second leading cause of death in children traveling abroad. Keep a close eye, utilize appropriate life-saving devices when swimming, and communicate clearly with the group to avoid drowning injuries.
If your child takes prescription medications make sure that you have researched travel requirements from airlines, cruise ships, etc. to guide you in how to bring those along without challenges. Guidelines are generally posted online and are easy to follow with a few preparatory steps.
Lastly, remember that your new environment will not be tailored to the age-specific needs of your child. If you have an infant, it is unlikely that your accommodations will be baby-proofed. Consider whether the area you are traveling to will have a reliable cell phone signal. If you are headed to the backcountry, it may be worth purchasing a GPS with tracking and signaling capabilities like this one or a satellite phone. Consider the temperature and climate of your destination and pack accordingly. Also, plan lightly for deviations in normal weather patterns.
There are not many things more enjoyable than watching your children play and learn in new environments. But as parents, we can take a few safety precautions to ensure that everyone returns home safely. Use the above suggestions as guidelines, they should not be increasing stress levels. Instead, remember that preparation will reduce stress in the end. And most importantly, have fun!