Traveling as a family, whether your first time traveling together, your first international trip or otherwise is exciting. I’m a bit of a planner, I personally enjoy deciding on what to see, where to eat, buying tickets, and figuring out the hotel situation ahead of time… Is that weird?
Anyway, when you’re buried in the planning process it can be easy to forget about emergencies. How do you address potential emergencies and make a family trip safer?
Easy. Have a plan and arm yourselves with info. The key is to avoid the confusion and panic moments:
Everyone should be on the same page.
Everyone should know what the plan is if you’re separated.
The kids should know what they’re responsible for, but you should also tell them what it is YOU will be doing if you’re separated.
Five more things you can do to make your next family trip safer:
A 3×5 card with emergency and identifying information. I laminate mine. Download one of my free templates to get started, otherwise here’s some details you should have on the sheet.
- DOB, height, weight, eye color, hair color, allergies, medications, etc.
- Your contact info in-country: cell number, hotel name and number, local embassy number.
- Local police and ambulance number.
- Emergency contacts back home – I recommend two, provide cell, work and home numbers.
Your kids should know what to do if you’re separated:
Decide on an option you’re comfortable with and make it the rule.
- Should they stay put? If so, for how long? (Make sure they have a watch)
- Should they head to a landmark? If so, point out landmarks to your kids as you’re walking around.
- What about finding a policeman or waiting with a mother who has kids in tow?
- A combination of the above?
- If you’re in an amusement park, they should never leave the park.
- Ticket counters are good places to wait.
- Look for park staff.
- Never go to the car. Parking lots make for an easy getaway if abducted.
Know what to do if your kids go missing:
- Report it to local authorities immediately. Minutes count. Have a bigger search party.
- Look for them where you last saw them, then at any landmarks you pointed out.
- Notify your local embassy.
Clothes maketh the (little) man:
Jana from MerlotMommy says she dresses both kids and adults in the same color shirts – preferably bright colored, so everyone can find one another easily in a crowd.
*She also takes pictures of the kids with her phone before leaving the hotel each day. Showing the kids’ picture will help a police officer much more than a verbal description.
As for packing, Jana adds, “Make sure you have fever meds, sore throat/cough drops, a thermometer, tummy meds, bug bite cream, and even something for ear aches.” Here’s some more ideas for how to stuff their pockets while traveling:
- Walkie talkies. A good option for emergency communications.
- Watches. They should know the time.
- Local map. Highlight landmarks and the hotel location in case they need to take a taxi.
- Cell phones. If they have phones, make sure the emergency numbers are programmed to dial locally.
- Local police and ambulance.
- Your local number.
- Hotel number where you’re staying.
- Local embassy number.
Having a plan and mentally rehearsing it will lower your stress level and reduce your time panicking in the event that you’re separated from your little ones. Packing and planning for emergencies will help you relax and enjoy your vacation. Do a little prep and have more fun bonding with your kids while you’re creating lasting memories!
If you’re interested in more details on how to make the trip a smoother one, take a look at the American Academy of Pediatrics. You’ll find a helpful list of suggestions for overseas acclimation, airplane travel and tips for vacationing by car. You can also click the image on the right or this link to access our guide to Family Travel.