However, when you jump out of your usual routine and environment it's easy to be distracted and let your guard down—which can lead to mishaps and accidents. You don't have to be a paranoid parent, but it's important to give a little thought to safety when you travel with your children.
Whether you're headed to the beach, theme park, hotel or grandma's house, here's a travel safety checklist to keep in mind.
- Make sure your child knows her full name, parents' names and where he/she is staying.
- Write "If lost, call (your cell phone number)" with a waterproof marker on your child's forearm when you go out for the day. If you get separated, someone will know how to get in touch with you.
- Take a digital snapshot of your child before heading out for the day so you'll have a picture of what he/she is wearing.
- Teach your child to go up to a mom for help if he/she becomes lost or hurt.
- Don't store your toiletry bag or first aid kit on the hotel bathroom counter where curious hands may explore. Medicines, ointments, razor blades, and even vitamins can be hazardous in the wrong hands or mouth.
- If you're staying at someone's home, do a once-over to make sure medications, kitchen knives and household cleaners aren't in reach of curious kids. Even grandma's house can be a minefield.
- A little duct tape can go a long way in makeshift childproofing. It can be used to secure electrical wires and phone cords, cover outlets, tie up dangling window blind cords etc. Wrap pipe cleaners or rubber bands around cupboard and cabinet handles you don't want your child getting into.
- Keep balcony doors locked and never let your child out there unsupervised. Remove climbable furniture near the railings.
- If you're going to be spending any time around water, be hyper-vigilant. Always have a designated parent watching closely – a lot of mishaps occur when one parent assumes the other one is watching. Even "good swimmers" need an eye on them at all times.
- Apply SPF 15+ sunscreen 20 minutes before heading outdoors and reapply every 2-3 hours, especially if the kids are playing in the water. Most people underestimate how much lotion is needed – a 4 o.z container should only last for about 6 applications. Don't forget the lips, ears and tops of feet.
To learn more about child-proofing your vacation, make sure to visit www.havekidswilltravel.net for the latest tips for families on the go.
—Catherine Forth, Editor, Have Kids Will Travel