Every responsible parent faces the same paradox at some point in their lives: First there is the instinctive need to protect our children and keep them safe from all possible harm, but then we also don’t want our children to miss out on valuable experiences that may benefit them in the future.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that travel offers genuine educational and cultural benefits to children, and the risks tend to be exaggerated. The risks associated with children traveling are increased when there is no parental supervision. Therefore the safest situation is when your children are accompanying you as much as possible while traveling.
By following the advice given below, you can be sure of doing everything possible to make travel as safe as it can be. Being sensible, you should be able to relax and enjoy your travel, and make the entire experience a positive one for your family.
Before the trip
Planning is the most important step in any journey. Impromptu unplanned travel may seem exciting and romantic, but it’s also the most likely kind of travel for something unexpected to happen.
The first thing is to look at reviews of the hotels where you plan to stay. If you see any comments suggesting that the area could be potentially unsafe or that it is not located in a good area, then you may want to consider finding alternative hotel options.
Also get as much information about the hotel as you can. Find the hotel on a map, and make a note of the major streets outside the hotel and what things are nearby. Police stations are generally a good thing to have nearby. Entertainment venues and night clubs, on the other hand, can attract large crowds. Sporting grounds can also be the scene of violence or even full-scale riots.
In the air
This advice is for those who are not traveling by private plane. Make sure the airline seats your family together. Most airline staff will do their best to make sure this is possible, and they may even need to ask other passengers for co-operation.
Ensure children use their seat belts and don’t encourage them to remove the seat belt just because the pilot has turned off the seat belt light. This light simply means that it’s safe to remove the belt if you need to get out of your seat for any reason. Don’t allow children under the age of 13 to wander the plane unaccompanied, even to the bathroom.
It’s best you arrange a safe airport transfer before leaving home. Many people simply trust their fate to an ordinary taxi driver, but that is not always wise when you have just arrived in a new city. Taxi drivers often put speed at the top of their list of priorities, because once they’ve dropped you off, they can seek another fare to pick up.
This means other things like safety and good manners are often way down the list of priorities. Knowing that you have a driver waiting for you, one that knows your name, and who has been thoroughly vetted by an agency, makes an incredible difference.
After checking in
Once you have checked in to the hotel, the obvious thing to do is simply be aware of where your children are and what they are doing. You do need to be a bit more vigilant than you would at home, simply because the kids are in a new and exciting environment, and one that they’re not familiar with.
It is easy for them to let their guard down, which is exactly why you should not. Pay attention to your surroundings, and don’t let children just wander around on their own. The younger they are, the more close you need to keep them, but you always need to know exactly where they are, no matter how old they are.
Travel is usually safe, and as long as you are sensible, it’s very unlikely that your family will encounter any serious problems. There is no need to be obsessively worried, but just take simple precautions and plan in advance. Stay in a safe hotel in a good location, and organize all your transport through a reputable service.