10 simple ways to keep your child safe on holidays
Keeping your child safe on holidays must be the number one priority on your trip list. There is absolutely nothing more important in the world than their well-being. There are NO shortcuts, NO slacking off. The safety preparation must be done prior to the journey. My list of 11 essential Safety Rules will help you to get ready.
You have probably heard some countries are family and/or child-friendly and some are not so. But how can you tell when the friendly is not TOO friendly? Or to what extent ACCEPTABLE attitude towards your child is acceptable? Looking at countries such as Australia, people mostly act as a community. They have an inbred instinct of helping one another, they tend to stay alert but generally feel safe in their surroundings. It’s a different story when you take your children overseas. Every country comes with a set of customs, a community spirit and an attitude towards children in general.
Asia is quite contrary to Australia. People can be friendly to the point of sometimes uncomfortable. Asian people ( men and women ) like but not always assume to ask whether they could touch your child’s hair/face, take a photo or else. More often than not these are very innocent gestures meaning no harm. We have seen it a lot across the Asian continent. It was in China where we got shockingly surprised. Locals stared and secretly photographed us. But there was one particular occasion has really struck me for a simple reason – it involved my child. Very awkward behavior. Still, to this day, I feel uneasy thinking about it. Perhaps, we didn’t feel unsafe, rather cautious. Honestly, it felt like we were some kind of circus freaks.
In Singapore as another example where there are millions of tourists and also thousands of hundreds of expats, locals normally mind their own business. Except for one time, on a train, two girls asked a permission to photograph with Nick. Well, at least they asked, I gave them a credit for being well – mannered.
Many tourists have had similar experiences all over Asia. Somehow it feels wrong to us, westerners. Regardless of the circumstances, I’d advise holding onto your child at all times. If something feels uncomfortable, gracefully take yourselves out of a situation.
To begin with, I will make it clear. This guide is aimed at older children. For babies and toddlers, extra measurements need to be established. In other words, A LOT MORE THAN WHAT I AM GOING TO COVER HERE.
10 rules on how to keep your child safe on holidays
- Dress him in bright clothes that are easy to identify, spot and describe. Most commonly recognized brands are preferred. There is nothing worse than look for your child in a crowd full of people all dressed in similar colors
2. Carry a recent photo in presently worn clothes with a full face shown. Clear, well lighten with a blurred background that doesn’t take away from the main subject. A portrait or even a passport photo is the best.
3. Teach your child to recognize and only speak with a professional staff such as policeman, service person, front desk staff or ask for help at a nearby store. All children are frightened by strangers and so they should be. I’d not suggest to anyone’s child to seek the attention of bypassers. If that’s what it takes to keep a child safe on holidays, then I say trust the process.
4. Remain him to stay where you last saw him. I always tell Nick not to move from his current spot so I can come back and find him. He also knows I’d be looking for him in the closest shop/cafe/whatever public place it might be if he isn’t where we might have parted. ( see the step above )
5. Check that your child’s phone is on and has a fully charged battery. Install the tracking system, keep it ON at all times – connect it to your phone with your email. If he doesn’t have a phone, place a detailed note with your personal details in every of his pocket: phone numbers, addresses, hotel numbers, staff names, and locations. Add alternative person details if something happens to you. Another option is to buy him a cheap disposable phone locally for the length of the trip.
6. Get him to walk in front of you if it’s a narrow or a very crowded place. That way you can see him all the time. I would not hold my child’s hand behind me. What if his shoelaces come undone?
7. Dress your child modestly. Girls I am talking about mainly here. Appropriate age wear in foreign surroundings is a great idea. Although we live in the 21st century, some places retain very old traditions where fashion styles never change. That also applicable to sacred sites you might be visiting. Catholic churches, museum, and public graveyards are common places to display respect and practice safety.
8. Always attend if your child made a friend in a hotel, at a swimming pool, in a street. I love when Nick makes friends, nevertheless, I still remind him they have just met, we first need to get to know people.
9. Say a solid NO if someone is asking to take a photo of or with your child. Because you don’t know for what purposes they are intending to use the photo.
10. Go out together at all times. Oh, I know what you are thinking about! Trust me, it can be very tempting but things happen when people let their guards down, don’t you agree? Need to run out to shops? Kids must come. For a drink? Buy and drink in your room when they are asleep. Simple. Always remember, you are in an unfamiliar place, amongst unfamiliar neighbors.
Here is another tip for you ( off the record ): why not sign him up for self-defense or boxing classes? Society consistently encourages parents to speak to offsprings about their privacy/safety. Try instead of talking, taking classes together. It’s fun, educational and a great way to spend time as a family.
Although this concludes my personal steps for a child’s safety, feel free to add yours in comments below. I am always open to sharing experiences and learning from others. I hope you do too.
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