Top Ten Tips for Travelling Safely with Kids
Safety while travelling is always a top priority when your family is involved. But there are a few things you can do to ensure you are travelling safely, minimise the potential for problems and are able to act fast if something does happen.
Here are some tips for staying safe:
- Bank Details
On a previous trip, we were unfortunate enough to have Trent’s wallet stolen from his pocket. Within 30 minutes the culprits had tried to purchase approximately $9000 worth of merchandise online. Luckily, Trent had quickly realised his wallet was stolen and called the bank to cancel the cards straight away who made sure all transactions were cancelled. Make sure you know the contact numbers for lost/stolen cards with your bank.
- Travel Wallet
Instead of using your everyday wallet, packed with cash and cards, use a travel wallet and put a small amount of money in it. Make sure you include enough money for the day and perhaps one credit card if you need and place all other cards and cash in your hotel room safe (leave the ones you don’t need at home in a safe place).
- Travel Insurance
This is a must when travelling as you never know what could happen. For a reasonably small fee, it covers you if you lose or get items stolen, get sick or get stuck (like the recent volcano ash problems). Also, check out your credit cards as some have free travel insurance if you spend a certain amount on the actual holiday using their credit card. Ensure you also cover yourself and your family for pre-existing medical conditions (Diabetes, Asthma etc) as sometimes these are not covered by standard cover.
- Keep Copies
Copy your passports, itineraries, all bookings, insurance paperwork, important cards (ensuring the number to cancel the card should you need is visible), any important scripts (not that you can fill them but a pharmacist can then know what you need), and any important family numbers and emails in a document. Store these in a safe place for your travels and also have a copy saved on a cloud based system like Dropbox so that you can access from any device in a worst-case scenario you lose everything.
It’s also a good idea to give your travel plans and copy of documents to a relative so they know where you are supposed to be at all times, and also register with Smarttraveller. This will enable updates to be emailed to you should anything happen in the country you are visiting, and it also one of the best ways our government can alert your family at home should the need arise. They can also send you a heap of travel advice and warnings for the country you are visiting http://smartraveller.gov.au/
- Safely store your holiday memories
Taking a big bulky video camera or SLR camera is a thing of the past (unless you are doing video blogs and high quality recording!). Smart phones are so great in terms of quality and storage these days and have replaced those bulky items. However, make sure you have a Dropbox or iCloud account linked to your phone so that when you take photos, they sync to the cloud just in case your phone gets lost, stolen or broken.
- Money Exchange
As unfortunate as it is to say, there are some people out there who solely make a living by taking advantage of tourists. One of the opportunities is when exchanging money as a “money exchanger”. The most obvious example of this is in Bali when there is a money exchanger every 100 metres or so. I suggest going to an official teller inside an actual bank or one that you think looks legitimate. They may have a slightly lower exchange rate but you won’t be taken for a ride when the alleyway exchanger gives you $100 instead of the $150 you were supposed to get. If you do want to give the side alley exchanger a go, make sure to always be the last one to touch and count the money before leaving. They are very swift with their hands!
- In-Room Safe
Most hotels in Australia and internationally will have an in-room safe. Make sure you use it, as often there are cleaners in your room every day and the last thing you want is for something to go missing and leave a bad taste in your mouth for the rest of the holiday. They are free to use and usually quite secure.
- Getting Lost
This is probably the scariest thing to think about when travelling with children. They need to know what to do should you lose them in a theme park, or they get lost on a train, caught in a lift or many of the other scenarios that can happen. It’s easy to be distracted when you are on holiday and the worst can happen. Trent and I have a rule that there is always a leader and a sweeper, and the kids are in the middle. This goes for lifts, transport and everywhere we walk. The leader is the person doing the directions and often also carries the money and important things, the sweeper is the one always watching the kids and hopping on and off things last so that the kids are always in the middle. This means that there is no confusion as to who is watching the kids.
- Have a worst case scenario
When the boys were small, I got them travel bags with the doggy leads. I know, judge me all you like, I used to judge too- but they are seriously a godsend with small runaways! Now they are older, we always have a discussion as to worst case scenario that if you get lost which is, “Stand still! Mummy and daddy will know in a minute or so and will come looking for you so stand with your back to a wall and look up for us, don’t panic and we will find you”. With trains and public transport, they are told to hop off at the next stop and wait or to let the driver know. They also are told to look for a policeman, someone in uniform, or another mummy and daddy with their kids at worst. But in countries where people don’t speak the same language, you don’t want to have to use any of the above options, so you are always enforcing safety rule nine, but it’s great to have a plan for just in case. This discussion with them also puts the fear of god into them, so that they are staying as close to you as you are to them.
I hope these travel tips ensure you have safe travels with your loved ones!