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No matter how well-behaved your children are, there’s always a chance that something could go wrong when you’re travelling with them. That’s why it’s important to be prepared for anything and know the essential travel safety tips for travelling with kids!
This guide will take you through some of the simple safety steps you can take for any trip, whether with kids or not, to help keep the whole family safe during your next vacation!
- Essential Safety Tips When Travelling With Kids
Safety When Travelling With Kids
No matter where you are travelling and with who, travelling comes with potential safety risks. Even travelling as far as your own neighbourhood can pose dangers, especially when travelling with kids.
There is something about kids that makes them magnets for potential injuries or illnesses. If it can happen and you’re unprepared, chances are it likely will happen!
Your best option is to be prepared for common scenarios during your family travel and ensure their safety along the way.
No matter how prepared we are, it’s impossible to account for every possible safety risk when travelling, just like we can’t prevent every illness or injury when we are at home.
So how do you travel safely with kids, without letting worry ruin your chances of having the most awesome family holiday ever?
Travel Insurance For Families
One of the best ways to protect your family while travelling is to have comprehensive travel insurance for the duration of your trip.
Just like having health or car insurance back home, having a good policy in place will help give you peace of mind on your trip, knowing that if something does go wrong, you are covered.
There are a few things to consider when purchasing travel insurance for your family:
- Make sure the policy covers all members of your family, including any infants or children travelling with you
- Check that the policy includes cover for the activities you are planning on doing while on holiday. For example, if you are planning to go skiing, make sure the policy covers winter sports
- Read the policy carefully to see what is and isn’t included in the cover. For example, some policies won’t cover you if you have a pre-existing medical condition
Make sure you purchase the policy well in advance of your trip so that you are covered from the start of your journey and for potential cancellations prior to leaving.
And finally, don’t forget to keep a copy of your policy handy while you are travelling so that you can refer to it if needed!
Our Recommendation: Check out our travel insurance comparison reviewing some of the most popular providers.
Packing Essential Travel Safety Items For Your Trip
In addition to having comprehensive travel insurance, there are a few other essential travel safety items you should pack for your trip, no matter where you are going:
- First Aid Kit – A first aid kit is a must-have for any trip, especially if you are travelling with kids. Be sure to include items such as plasters/band-aids, antiseptic cream, painkillers,and any other medications that you or your family may need.
- Medication – If you or your family members take medication regularly, be sure to pack enough for the entire trip, as well as any extras in case of delays. It’s also a good idea to keep a list of all medications being taken and the corresponding dosages, just in case you need to see a doctor while on vacation along with a letter from your GP with contact details and medical information regarding your condition.
- Emergency Contact Numbers – It’s also a good idea to have a list of emergency contact numbers for the place you are visiting, as well as back home. This way, if something does happen and you need to get in touch with someone urgently, you will have the numbers handy
- Travel Documents – Don’t forget to pack all of the important travel documents you will need for your trip, such as passports, visas, tickets, and itineraries. It’s also a good idea to make copies of these documents in case you lose the originals.
RELATED: Check out our guide for what to pack in your carry-on bag when travelling with kids.
Preventing Illness While Travelling
We have all heard of the dreaded Bali belly or related stomach ailments from drinking water in countries where the water is polluted and unsafe.
There is nothing worse than spending a day hugging the toilet while your body recovers from the dreaded bug. And even worse when it’s your child experiencing who is sick instead!
Over the last several years, we also have global pandemics and viruses to contend with and the way we travel has drastically changed in an attempt to prevent illness!
The best way to prevent getting sick while travelling is by being vigilant and taking extra care with hygiene.
- Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitiser, especially before eating
- Carry antibacterial hand sanitiser in each of your day bags and hand luggage
- Carry sanitiser wipes with you to clean surfaces that may be contaminated
- Avoid drinking tap water, even if it’s from a safe country – stick to bottled water
- Brush your teeth using bottled water
- Choose food wisely – avoid anything that has been sitting out in the heat and pay close attention to cleanliness
- Wash fruit with bottled water or choose fruit with removable peel
- Have all recommended vaccinations before you travel
- Discourage children from putting their hands in their mouth
- Place a rug or blanket on the ground before allowing babies or small children to play
- Avoid foods that have an unusual odour or colour to usual
If illness does strike, there is a risk of dehydration with diarrhoea or vomiting, therefore it is essential to keep up fluids. If your child is struggling to keep everything down, water included, try giving them water just a small sip at a time every few minutes.
Depending on the country or countries you are travelling to, you may need to get travel vaccinations.
Be sure to check with your GP prior to leaving and check the latest information on required travel vaccinations for your destination.
You can also find up-to-date information about border restrictions and vaccination requirements via SafetyWing.
Also, make sure you are up to date with all your standard vaccinations to reduce the risk of disease and illness while abroad.
Some of the most common travel vaccinations for kids include:
- hepatitis A
- Japanese encephalitis
- meningococcal disease
- yellow fever
- typhoid fever
These days, many countries also require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before you enter.
Getting the annual flu vaccine might be ideal if you are travelling during flu season to minimise your risk of contracting it during your travel.
Travel Safety Tip: Check the travel advice for your destination on Smartraveller for the most up-to-date information on required vaccinations and other health risks.
Preventing Injury While Travelling
When travelling with kids, injuries are almost guaranteed at some point, from a scraped knee to something more serious and it is impossible to prevent every injury your kids may receive while travelling.
These tips will help minimise injury during your time away from home:
- Always wear shoes to protect your feet from sharp objects
- Ensure shoes are comfortable to prevent blisters and rubbing – wear them in before you travel
- Inspect play areas for dangerous materials
- Supervise your child’s playtime
- Always keep your child in your line of sight when travelling
- Be aware of your surroundings so you can assess the risk
Some injuries will happen despite your vigilance, therefore you also need to be prepared.
When travelling with kids, a first aid kit with basic medical supplies is a must. At the bare minimum, be sure to pack bandaids, bandages, antiseptic cream and disinfectant wipes to treat minor cuts and scrapes.
Preventing Insect Bites
Insect bites are not only annoying, but they can also transmit disease. In some parts of the world, particularly in Asia, Africa and South America, there is a high risk of contracting Malaria through mosquito bites.
This is a highly contagious disease that children are very susceptible to contracting. Preventing insect bites is best managed through wearing clothing that leaves little skin exposed and through the use of insect repellant.
However, most insect repellents are not suitable for babies and young children under the age of 24 months due to the chemicals and potential reactions.
It is helpful to test the insect repellent sprays with your children before you leave to ensure they do not have any skin reactions.
If this is the case, there are some natural alternatives, or you may consider other precautions, such as taking a wall plug insect repeller or having a mosquito net over the child’s bed or cot to keep them safe through the night from insect bites. To prevent insect bites:
- Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves and pants
- Use mosquito nets over cribs, cots and beds
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin or a child/infant safe alternative
- Cover up baby strollers and prams with mosquito netting
Insect bites can also cause serious reactions in some people so it’s important to be aware of how your child reacts to them. If they have a severe reaction, such as swelling or difficulty breathing, be sure to seek medical attention immediately.
Travel Safety Tip: If your child has sensitive skin, consider spraying their clothing with insect repellant instead of their skin as a way to reduce irritation while still keeping them protected. We often spray strollers and bags too.
Sun Safety While Travelling With Kids
When travelling with kids, it’s important to take sun safety seriously to prevent sunburn and long-term skin damage.
Babies and young children have sensitive skin that can burn easily, so be sure to keep them well protected when outdoors.
Serious sunburn can lead to sunstroke and dehydration, which can cause sickness, fever, diarrhea and fatigue. Pretty much all the things you don’t want your children to experience on holiday.
Pack sunscreen with a high sun protection factor, such as SPF50+ and apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going into the sun to give it time to create a sun barrier.
Sunscreen will remain effective for different periods for each individual. Also be mindful that reapplying sunscreen does not necessarily prevent sunburn for longer, as you are recommended to spend some time out of the sun in between.
To protect your child from the sun and prevent sunburn:
- Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outdoors
- Use high SPF rating sunscreen of 50+SPF or above
- Avoid direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day
- Wear a hat, and quality sunglasses for all ages
- Cover up with long sleeves and long pants
- Wear light cotton clothing to avoid being too hot
In case you or your children do experience sunburn, make sure you pack aloe vera gel to soothe sunburn. This will minimise the level of discomfort.
Water Safety For Kids
Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in children, so water safety is an important consideration when travelling with kids.
Most drownings occur in backyard pools and home spa baths, but they can also happen in any body of water, such as a river, dam, lake or ocean.
You can help prevent drowning by teaching your children how to swim and by ensuring they are supervised around water at all times.
It is also important to be aware of the different dangers posed by different types of water bodies. For example, oceans have rip currents that can quickly drag swimmers out to sea, while dams and rivers may have hidden drop-offs or undertows.
Always keep your kids within arm’s length when in the water!
In addition to being a good swimmer, there are some other things your child can do to stay safe in the water:
- Wear a lifejacket when boating, sailing or fishing
- Don’t swim alone – always have someone else with you
- Be aware of the dangers posed by rip currents, undertows and drop-offs
- Don’t drink alcohol before or during swimming/supervising kids in the water
- Don’t swim in bad weather/during poor conditions
- Follow the safety instructions and flags at the beach
Choose Safe Destinations For Families
While we would like to think everywhere is safe to visit with kids, this is not always the case! Research your destination before you go and make sure it is somewhere that is suitable for young children.
For example, some countries have high crime rates or are in the midst of civil unrest which can make them unsafe for tourists, let alone families travelling with small children.
If you are unsure whether a destination is safe for families, check with your travel insurance company as they will often have a list of countries that they do not cover.
When researching your destination, be sure to consider the following:
- The crime rate and whether it is safe to walk around
- The quality of healthcare and hospitals
- Current health risks such as viruses
- Whether there are recent natural disasters
- The political situation in the country or current conflicts
A great resource for current travel safety tips and destination information is SmartTraveller, which allows you to set travel alerts for your upcoming destinations.
If you are planning an upcoming trip with your family, make sure you check out our family travel guide to help you plan, prepare and execute the perfect holiday with kids.
For more family travel planning tips:
It’s important to take travel safety seriously when travelling with kids to keep the entire family safe for the duration of your vacation! While you cannot prepare for every situation, taking precautions will reduce your risk of illness, injury or worse. By following the tips in this guide, you can help ensure that your family has a safe and enjoyable trip.
Do you have any other travel safety tips for trips with kids? Share them below.