Summer is in full swing, and traveling with the children is always an adventure. Here are a few things to keep on your radar so that your family summer vacation is a safe one:
- Don't tell the world you're on a trip! Save your social media posts for when you return. Police are adamant that social media is used widely by thieves who target homes when people are on vacation.
- Make sure that two people, either relatives, neighbors or friends, have all of your travel information. This includes itinerary, travel routes, phone numbers, information about who may be entering your home in your absence, etc. Two people provides extra layer of protection in case one person drops the ball.
- Use a "crash and burn" approach to travel. For numerous reasons (injury/illness/accident/crime), there are times when people don't return from vacations as planned. If you were to go on vacation and not return, who should know about it, and what do you want them to do about it? Make sure at least one person has you on their radar, and that person should also have contact information for loved ones. If you're driving, you should check in with that person along the way, keep them informed about your route and your stopping points, etc. If you're flying, that person should have your flight numbers and you should check in with them when you land. If your vacation plans go awry, that person should have instructions about how to handle it and who to notify. It's easy to stay in touch via phone and text, but someone needs to be the point person if you can't be reached.
- Keep children close when you're on vacation. It's easy to get caught up in the relaxation of vacation and to loosen the safety net a little bit with the children, but vacation is the time when you should be most vigilant. Do not allow your children to roam freely through a hotel or resort area. Only use the children's programs or babysitting services if you have thoroughly checked them out with a third party review service. Don't leave young children alone in your hotel room. Madeline McCann is the poster child for bad things that can happen when parents choose to do this. Do not allow your child to use the restroom unchaperoned. For older children, stay in regular contact via cell phone or walkie talkie, and activate the GPS locator service on your child's phone (find my iPhone/Life 360, etc.) so you can easily track them.
- Highway rest areas can be danger zones, too. If you are driving, do not use them at night. Instead, choose a truck stop, convenience store or retail store if you need to stop for a restroom.
- In the airport, keep your child at your side at all times. Tell your children that if you get separated they should stay in place and you will come and find them. If you find that you've lost your child, you can then retrace your steps until you find them. Tell them not to speak to anyone and not to allow anyone to take them to another location within the airport. If a security guard approaches them, they should tell the guard what they've been instructed to do by you and they should refuse to move. They can ask the security guard to put an announcement on the speaker system to help you find them. Getting separated from you in the airport will be very traumatic for your child, so you should do everything in your power to prevent this from occurring.