Many of us are FINALLY at the long-awaited moment where we are taking those overdue, cancelled, and postponed family vacations. However, we would be naïve to say that for us females, and especially moms, traveling does not come without its stressors when thinking about yours and your family’s safety. While I cannot guarantee there will be no child meltdowns, realization that the iPad is dead upon boarding, or lost luggage, I can help with minimizing some other anxiety travel brings with some quick travel safety wins that you and your family can use on that next trip!
On the Go:
Get to know the area: Look around the map area of where you will be staying. While no one wants an emergency, it’s always best to be prepared with where the pharmacy, children’s hospital, ER, or Urgent Care is – and one that accepts your insurance.
Pep talk the kids: Airports, amusement parks and large cities can be hectic places. Make sure your kids know what to do and where to go if they ever get separated from you. Put an information card for you/your spouse in their backpack and make sure they know mom and dad’s names! Wanting to get real extreme? Consider a wearable tracking device if you want to cover all your bases…
Hope for the best but expect delays: Prepare for delays regardless of your mode of travel. Ensure you have sufficient fuel in your vehicle, travel with some extra fluids and snacks, bring reserves of formula/diapers/milk, have chargers in your carry on, and keep your emergency equipment in vehicles (tire, jack, jumper cables, first aid kit, etc.). If you or your kiddos require medication, have extra on hand with you for at least 2-3 days longer than you’ll be gone.
Keep a Spare: If driving or renting a car, have the extra car key with you and keep it separate from the other key (I.e., in the hotel room, with the baby’s stuff, etc.). If you lose a key, you don’t want to get stuck with no way back home. Oh, and check that spare tire too.
Checking in! When checking in, hand your ID to the front desk employee instead of saying your name out loud. We want to avoid the whole lobby from knowing that Mrs. Smith is in room 301!
What’s my Room again? Speaking of room 301, do not publicly announce your hotel room number and be sure to throw away the key card holder that has your room number on it. This way if you lose it, someone doesn’t have access to your key AND room number (if you are HORRID at remembering your room number, or the Wi-Fi password, just take a picture of the holder!).
Do Not Disturb! Leave the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your hotel room door – whether you are in the room or not – this alerts someone that the room is likely occupied and a deterrent. When you want housekeeping, simply call down to ask!
Protect your stuff:
Don’t carry all your cards / cash on you at once: Keep some credit cards / cash in your luggage back at the hotel- this way if you lose your wallet or have it stolen – you have your backups! When out on the town with your items – keep things in different compartments (a wallet, a jacket pocket, or in your kid’s diaper bag!). While on the go, consider a scarf that has a pocket like these to keep your belongings safe – and allow yourself to be hands free (bonus!).
High Value items?: Traveling with your fave high-valued items? When not using them, keep them wrapped up in a diaper and put it in your luggage – no one to rifle through a diaper!
Cash: Avoid using ATMs that are right on the street and not affiliated with a bank. Go into a bank for the ATM and put money away completely before leaving and in different sections of your bag.
Make digital copies: Always have digital copies of you and your families wants IDs (save in your Google drive, email to yourself and someone else, etc.). This will save you a headache at the airport if yours gets lost. If you are international, make a photocopy of your family’s passports to carry around town and keep the hard copies back at the hotel.
Device / Digital safety:
Public Charging Stations: USB charging stations in public places are seen at airports, train stations, hotel lobbies, etc. However, these stations are often loaded with malware that can steal your information – known as ‘Juice Jacking.’ Avoid plugging your USB straight into an outlet, travel with your own charging cord / outlet plug or a personal portable charger.
Social media: Remember, ‘checking in’ on Facebook or posting status updates or photos in real time from a location, etc. can alert others not only of your location but also that you are not currently at your own home. Geotag after you have left and are almost home or don’t include location tags if you are posting real time!
Protect those devices: When leaving your laptop, iPad, etc. in your room, be sure to shut it all the way down and leave it in your luggage. Avoid putting your phone in your back pocket – this avoids easy pick pockets or an accidental drop in the toilet on a bathroom break.
Traveling solo? Don’t be afraid to get out there on your own. Use some of these tactics to feel more comfortable – and confident – so you can get back to enjoying your trip!
Taking transport (Ubers/Lyfts/Taxis)? Ask the driver to confirm your name before you confirm theirs and share your trip with someone back home in real time through the app. If in a taxi, take a picture of the drivers ID in the back and send it to someone. Follow along your Maps application while in transit to be sure you are going the right direction to your destination.
Enjoy the beverages – but be picky about from who: Remember to not accept drinks from someone unless you see it opened in front of you or it comes straight from the bar / waiter. If you need to go to the bathroom, take your drink with you or get a new one when you get back to your seat.
Remember – not oversharing does not make you rude!: I know, I know – down south we are all about being polite. However, don’t feel the need to overshare the specifics of your trip, how long you are traveling for, where you are staying, what you are doing tomorrow, etc. if you are asked – especially by a stranger. Deflect questions back to them and be vague “I am not sure of my plans tomorrow, what is fun to do in this city?” “Do you have any restaurant recommendations” “I don’t know how many days I’ll be here, it is still up in the air” or “I can’t remember the exact hotel name, but it is not much to write home about”.
Many thanks to Brooke Kassner-Matz for sharing this article with us. She joined the league in October 2021 after having moved to Southlake in Summer 2021 with her husband, Andrew, (almost) 2 year-old son Wesley, and 4-year old Golden Retriever. They have been in Texas since 2017 after spending a number of years in Washington, DC. Brooke works full-time from home as the Director of Security & Field Operations for an INGO that trains and supports journalists and media outlets operating in conflict or post-conflict zones around the world. Pre-Covid, she traveled regularly around the world but is now enjoying the 'new norm' of more at-home time with the family - and the chance to meet fellow moms in the area!
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