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General safety tips when traveling with kids??

General safety tips when traveling with kids??

Old Jun 4th, 2013, 09:12 AM
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General safety tips when traveling with kids??

Hi all,
I'm very excited to be leaving for our 7 week trip to Europe very soon! For the first 3 weeks my husband will be with us, but after that it's just me and my girls, ages 11 and 8. We have a busy itinerary, that fortunately includes visiting some wonderful friends along the way.

I've traveled to Europe many times, and we lived as a family in France a few years ago, so I'd say we're fairly experienced travelers. My daughters are very easy going and adapt quickly, and they too are looking forward to this trip.

That said, I seem to keep reading more and more about an increase in pickpockets and group gangs in the major European cities (esp here on Fodors!). My good friend who lives in Paris said theft has gotten much worse over the last few years. I know the basics (money belt, cross body bag, don't leave iphone on a table, etc...), but I'm wondering if anyone has more suggestions? What do to, not do sort of thing? I've been surrounded by Roma before, and was able to push them off (and all my stuff was safe), but if that were to happen to my kid...that would be scary for a child.

Should I let my older daughter carry a purse (cross body)...should she bring her ipod? Any tips on what to do in case of separation, what to tell kids in general about staying safe?? I know it's no different than here in the US (the same speech I give when we go into NYC), but still if others have experience here, especially given language barriers, etc., I'd greatly appreciate it!

Since I'll be alone with my girls for a majority of the trip, I'm feeling much more concerned about safety than when I travel alone!

Many thanks!
Angelapm is offline  
Old Jun 4th, 2013, 09:57 AM
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Well, in each city you should give both children the name, address and phone number of wherever you will be staying - as well as your cell. That way - if anyone is separated they can easily find you.

When you get on the tube or Metro or tram or whatever, make sure all know where to get off - and have a meeting place designated if you are separated. Don't know how mature and reliable your kids are (I rode the NYC subway alone at 11, but knew where I was going).

And just teach them to be aware of their surroundings - and remind them NOT to be nice to strangers - but to ignore them - and scream for help in any doubt.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jun 4th, 2013, 10:15 AM
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There are pickpockets anywhere there are distracted and oblivious tourists. if you're an experienced traveler like you say you are and you've been fine up to now, keep doing what you're doing.

Give the kids phones with everyone else's numbers programmed into them. If someone gets separated, they can call. It's also nice to have a "if you get separated from the group, go to <this place that is easily findable>" standing order for each destination or whatever..

iPod is fine. Just don't make it a visible temptation. Actually, you might want to reconsider the iPod. Does your daughter become oblivious to her surroundings when Bieber or whatever is blasting through her earbuds? If yes, leave it at home.
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Old Jun 4th, 2013, 10:21 AM
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Leave the ipod in the room.
Definitely have a metro plan, in case you get separated. We used to plan that if separated we would get off at next stop and wait for other person. (We did that because some journeys required transfers and that could be confusing.)
We held on to each other while boarding and getting off.

She could carry a purse if she is used to that. It would be handy for maps, small purchases. I wouldn't put any valuables in it.
Goldens is offline  
Old Jun 4th, 2013, 10:41 AM
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We have the same rules for visiting any city:

- Don't touch anything in a public place, such as floors, walls, used gum, empty wine bottle; obviously more important for younger kids.

- I always intend to give them a copy of a business card from whatever hotel we're staying at, but rarely remember to do so. They always have our cell phone number and KNOW THE US COUNTRY CODE.

- The usual city thing about if you get separated, who to go to (i.e., into a store, any old lady). Most people will speak enough English to figure out a kid is saying they're lost.

- I would not let a kid carry their own ipod. If an 11yo wants to carry a purse, fine, but she shouldn't put anyting in it that she doesn't want to lose.

- Anywhere that it was two parents and a kid and we were each pulling bags or otherwise not able to walk side by side, there would be one parent in front and one in back. With you by yourself, have them in front of you. Same thing going through things like metro turnstyles. Crowded areas, especially the younger one, hold hands.

One thing I decided, because we've never had any problems when traveling with our kids. Pickpockets, bad guys, etc. may know that while parents with kids might be more distracted, they are also going to be a LOT more vocal if something or someone is threatening their kid. The only time anybody even approached us with our kids was a bracelet guy at the foot of the Sacre Ceour stairs in Paris. I knew they were there, and warned my daughter, but one started to approach her. Whatever I did or said must have been so savage that the poor guy immediately slunk away. My other theory is that you tend to look more like a local if you're travelling with kids, so maybe just less on the pickpocket radar screen.

Others may have had different experiences, but those were ours.
Lexma90 is offline  
Old Jun 4th, 2013, 11:09 AM
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Good advice above.

Also, stress to them not to take ANYTHING to eat or drink from anyone you've known for less than a week--and that's good advice for you, too. I wouldn't let her carry an iPod about, either: carry nothing on the street that you don't want to lose.

I'd have a redundant plan in case you get separated: phone with numbers programmed but also business cards for the hotel. Then if someone runs off with the phone, your kids can still find the hotel.

But the best thing is not to get separated in the first place. Making a plan for what to do if you get momentarily separated on each stage of your journey is important: my spouse and I still do that even though there are just two of us and we're pretty experienced travelers.

Our rule is that if we temporarily lose track of each other, neither of us leaves the floor we're on (if in a building), the shop we're in (if in a shopping area, or the block we're on (if on the street.) Hold hands on the subway or sit so that you're on one side of the car and they are on the other so that you all can see each other at all times.

After having a bag snatched in Rome, we no longer carry bags of any sort except a backpack. Your daughter could keep her stuff in one of those and you or her sister could access it so she doesn't have to take it off. And when you're moving about with your luggage, keep your hand or foot on each bag at all times and wrap the strap around your arm if possible.

Sounds like you've got enough time to really stretch out and see Europe, so have a great trip.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Old Jun 4th, 2013, 07:12 PM
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Wow, such fantastic advice..just what I was looking for!! Thanks so much for all your great tips! Now if I could just microchip my kids....!!
Angelapm is offline  
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