I love to travel and am grateful to have had the opportunity to do it quite a bit. I like to think I developed some street smarts pretty early on. When I moved to Chicago for college, my siblings seemed satisfied that I could take care of myself. Since then, I’ve tried to figure out exactly what traits are useful in staying safe while traveling, especially now that I have children. Here are some thoughts I’ve come up with. Most of these apply whether you have children or not, but the stakes are higher when you do!
Safety Tips For Travel With Kids
It’s hard to pay attention to what’s going on around you if you’re frantically studying a subway map or instructions on your phone. You’re a ripe target to be misled, taken advantage of, or robbed.
On a recent trip through Boston, a city I’ve traveled to many times, I found myself flummoxed on the subway because I hadn’t traveled on it with kids before. They don’t have to pay, and I wasn’t sure how to get them through the turnstile without a ticket. I wish I had looked into that more ahead of time.
I did, however, carefully read up on an unfamiliar train station that we would travel through. Think through every step of your trip and find out what you can ahead of time. Even though you may have your phone, that ever present resource, in your hand throughout the trip, it’s better not to rely on it except for emergencies. It can be lost, stolen, or not connected at worse and distracting at best.
Or should I say, “Appear confident.” I don’t mean that you should have an over-inflated idea of how secure/super tough/invulnerable/safe you are. That’s a recipe for disaster. However, looking vulnerable is being vulnerable; appearing confident and in the know, which goes hand in hand with being prepared, can help prevent you from being a target. When someone stops to ask me for directions, I figure I’m projecting the right amount of ease on the street.
Don’t look over your shoulder all the time; that does not project confidence! But do sit or stand with your back to the wall when possible, so that you can see what’s going on around you. Another little trick of mine when walking down the street is to occasionally look out the corner of my eye at the reflection in windows as I’m passing by. That way I can see if anyone is closer to me than they should be or observing me too intensely.
Nothing screams “tourist” like a lot of suitcases! When I have to have luggage, I take only a backpack. I enjoy the challenge, in fact. My kids have their own small bags. When eating, I place it between my feet; in close quarters, such as the subway, I hold it on my lap. If I’m only out for the day, I try to put what I need in my pockets, but that might not be possible with kids!
Ok, I often travel alone, or at least alone with my children. However, I remember plenty of times that I was glad I had someone with me when I was walking down various streets. If you can’t actually have an adult travel companion, or even when you do, I recommend keeping your phone where you can get it fast and other people can’t. I usually go for a front pocket.
Don’t let anxiety keep you from enjoying our big, diverse world! If you put a little thought into your travel, you won’t have to worry.