When you’re taking a family vacation, your safety concerns as a parent will probably only grow. You’re visiting new places and trying new activities with kids who are bouncing off the walls with excitement-who wouldn’t be a little nervous?
Planning ahead will give you (and your children) tools for staying safe, and handling tricky situations appropriately if they do occur.
Two especially stressful places for traveling families are airports and theme parks. Here are a few ways you can take steps toward safety in these environments!
Divide and conquer. If you have two adults in your family, have one who is responsible for checking flight information, finding the gate, or checking in, while the other is watching the children. If you’re traveling with the kids as the sole adult, have an older child make sure everyone sticks together while you tackle logistics. Holding hands is a tried-and-true tool for this!
Plan it out. Airports can be very exciting (and distracting!) for a child. Talk with your children before, making sure they know to stay close to you and avoid distractions. Use the buddy system and make sure your children know who are safe adults to talk to if they get separated from you.
Decide on an emergency meet-up point. If you get separated, your child can wait for you there. Make sure they know what the uniforms of the park staff look like, so they can ask for directions, but remind them they don’t need to go anywhere or do anything they’re uncomfortable with.
Ride safely. Help your children understand why the buckles, harnesses, and safety precautions are important. If you choose not to ride, wait in line with your child, ensure they’re buckled in safely, and wait for them close to the exit of the ride.
Explain the rules. A theme park is very different from school, home, or anywhere else kids have to follow a certain set of rules. Remind your children that safety is important, and in order for so many people to be safe and have fun, there are special rules to follow. Let your children know about them ahead of time so they know what to expect, and model the behaviors you want them to follow.
In general, family vacations are a great way to remind kids of your family’s safety rules. Encourage them to find a park staff person, store staff person, or police officer if they need help in public and can’t find you. Make sure they have your phone number memorized as early as possible.
Once you’re sure they know what to do in an emergency, you can relax a bit-and hopefully enjoy your vacation as much as your kids will!