Setting out on a family holiday to a foreign land is exciting, but it’s also a step out of your comfort zone that requires careful planning to ensure your family’s safety. Whether you’re considering booking a hotel in London or staying at the Ritz, your family is a natural target for some unsavoury characters counting on a certain naiveté among travellers. Implement these common sense tips to make your adventure stress-free and safe.
It is tempting to use those handheld devices, from Smartphones to Kindles, to chase away tedium of travel or research the next stop. Do keep in mind that such devices naturally attract attention from casual and professional thieves alike, so exercise prudence when consulting them in public. Get kids old fashioned toys to play with in transit and save the mobiles for the hotel room or rental car.
Everyone in the family should carry an itinerary that lists the address and phone numbers at your accommodations in case your party becomes separated at some point in the journey. That way any missing member of the tribe can return to home base or leave messages at the hotel for others if they have lost their cell phone and don’t know the phone numbers.
Check with your health insurance company to see if your policy covers travel abroad, especially in emergency rescue situations. If not, look into travel insurance packages that not only provide health coverage but include loss or theft of luggage and other personal items as well as expenses caused from unexpected delays and inclement weather.
Be aware that foreign foods are sometimes upsetting to digestive systems, especially children, so you want to pack along some over-the-counter stomach remedies in case anyone eats something that doesn’t agree with them. Also research local poison control hotlines so if a family member does experience drastic symptoms, you can check with a professional to know if medical attention is required. (Read about how to avoid stomach problems on holiday).
When travelling with small children, take along an all-purpose car seat that can easily be strapped into a rental car, taxi cab, plane or train since you can’t count on any public carriers to provide child-safety seats. Also pack along some disposable sanitary wipes so you can give it a quick swipe after rides in questionable vehicles so your kids’ exposure to any nasty foreign germs is kept to a minimum.
In this day and age, there’s no excuse for not having the most up-to-date weather forecasts at your fingertips. Weather apps for cell phones are easy to come by and can be invaluable to assure you are not taking your family into areas where severe weather could prove dangerous.
Some families find out the hard way that not having some basic phrases of the local language at their command can lead to unnecessary confusion, especially during an emergency situation. Luckily, there are apps for this dilemma, too, and programs such as ‘Travel Phrase’ can help you call up medical, legal and transportation terms specific to the language of the country you are visiting.