As parents, we can have all sorts of fears about ‘what could happen’ when travelling with our family. When it comes to child safety, the fear of the unknown is natural, the fear can intensify when we take our children to a foreign country where the language, customs, law and health service are all completely different from what we’re used to.
On the flip-side, we have conflicting fears and high levels of FOMO around not introducing our kids to the wonder of the world, and sharing unique experiences and creating memories that one can only acquire through travel.
For us, ‘not to travel’ is not an option and FOMO wins every time! Preparation along with a level-head, and lots of common sense is the key to keeping kids safe on holiday.
What’s the best way to consider your family’s safety or child safety when travelling?
We asked our CEO and Founder Richard to answer this question. He travelled the world for a year with his wife and son (who was two years old at the time), and as former Police Officer he’s a real expert in safety and how to mitigate risk.
1. When you decided to take your family travelling, how much consideration did you give to the risks involved?
For me safety has always been a priority, both in my work and my personal life and I have been known to be a bit overprotective at times. This probably stems from my time as a police officer where I was exposed to the side of life that most people hope to avoid, dealing with everything from traffic accidents, to gun and knife crime and drunken fights.
These experiences taught me that there is risk in everything we do and whilst it is possible to mitigate it, you can never remove it. The majority of accidents happen at home and I personally think this is because people, including me, are too comfortable at home. By its nature your home is the place where you and your family should feel safe and secure and relaxed but this is when the unexpected is likely to happen hence it is where the majority of people get injured.
I always find when I travel I am much more alert to risks and hence the reduced likelihood of something happening.
2. Did people question your decision to go travelling with such a young child?
All the time. We were questioned on what food would be safe to eat, what would we do if our son got injured, what if he needs medicine, what about insects and many many more.
My response was always the same, what if this happened at home? You would respond in the best way possible and get the best treatment you can at that time. So be prepared and plan for what might happen but don’t obsess over it. Do some research into nearby hospitals or doctors should you need them and carry the basics with you. Enroll in a first aid class before you head off although I would recommend this for any parent whether travelling or not. Most of all, make sure you invest in a good travel insurance policy not just for peace of mind but also because it is a requirement to show evidence of coverage prior to all our trips. Check the policy in detail, including the small print and extent of coverage. We have partnered with World Nomads for this exact reason as they are market leaders in travel insurance.
However, there is no right or wrong answer here as everyone is different and it is all about each individual assessing their own risk vs reward. For us a family, we would never have had the shared experiences and memories if we hadn’t went travelling and the experience has very much become part of who we are as a family. Our son who is only 3, even now watches the video from our trip about two or three times a week and talks about all the places he visited.
3. What are some of the safety essentials that you can take with you?
First off, get prepared early. Have a think about what risks you are worried about and see if there are products or solutions out there to help. Some of the items we travelled with were;
Nest camera – this was great for us whether we had a baby sitter in or we were just sitting outside the bedroom having dinner. It gave us that comfort blanket that we could see him at all times and easily connects through wifi.
Inflatable bed rails – these were great as we stayed in a wide variety of accommodation with different beds, cots, sofa beds etc. Whilst they won’t stop a determined toddler who wants to get out of bed, they certainly prevented the accidental fall outs during the night.
Travel car seat – this is such a great, lightweight car seat to travel with. It fits into a cabin sized bag so there was no risk of it being lost or delayed with our other bags. It isn’t something we would use long distance as there isn’t a load of cushioning but for two or 3 hours at a time is ideal and meant that no matter what mode of transport we were using, he was safely secured.
4. What do you do if you lose someone in your family?
When it comes to child safety. Explain to the young ones that things might be different from what they are used to and that it is all part of the fun. Have a plan of where to meet and what to do should you get separated from each other, even toddlers can remember this.
5. Any final advice for travelling with kids?
My last piece of advice would be to relax a bit. The UK and Europe is one of the most heavily regulated, risk averse places in the world. The discussion on whether this is a good thing or bad thing is for another time but we have to recognize that not everywhere else in the world is like that. Children are still raised safely in these other countries are less likely to suffer accidents at home. Before two point four even came close to taking a family on a trip, we invested a lot of time and money into ensuring our company approach to and policies on childcare were of the highest standard and complied with all UK regulations. We take child safety extremely seriously. This was vital to me personally and not something I would ever compromise on.