Safety First, Adventure Always: 12 Essential Travel Tips From a Pro

Stay attentive, aware and take smart precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip

By Jennifer Hill, publisher of Macaroni KID Fremont, Calif. July 10, 2023

Traveling is a thrilling adventure, but don't let the excitement mean you overlook safety. When traveling with kids, it's especially easy to get distracted. But it's important to stay attentive and take smart precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip worthy of those amazing IG posts. 

Here are 12 travel safety tips and tricks to keep in mind on your next trip:

1. Know before you go

Don't get on that plane before you've done your research! Get to know the local customs, laws, and potential risks. Understand the political situation, weather conditions, and, if traveling overseas, any travel advisories or warnings issued by the U.S. government.

2. Pack a small first-aid kit

You never know when your kid will skin her knee or slam his finger in the car door. Bring a small first aid kit along that includes items like bandages, wipes and pain medications.

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3. Take a portable carbon monoxide alarm

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission encourages people to pack portable carbon monoxide alarms as rentals and hotels may not have working carbon monoxide alarms. There have been several reports of tourists dying in their hotel rooms from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning overseas in recent years.

4. Make copies of important documents

Make copies of your passport, driver's license, identification cards, visas, and travel insurance documents. Keep the copies in a separate location from the originals, and consider storing digital copies securely in cloud storage so you can access while traveling.

5. Stay connected to home

Share your family's travel plans and itinerary with a friend or family member, and maintain communication with them during your trip. Make sure to let them know if you have any change in plans or unexpected situations. It's good to have someone know where you are in case the unexpected happens.

6. Don't post on social media yet

Aside from close friends and family, keep your travel plans quiet. Wait until you come home to post on social media and, if traveling with others who are still out of town, be kind and don't tag them in photos. Why? You could unintentionally let a robber know it's a great time to visit.

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7. Don't draw attention to yourself

Try to blend in, be discreet when looking at maps, and be cautious when approaching someone to ask for directions so you don't stand out as a tourist who is easy to take advantage of.

8. Stay vigilant in public spaces

Pickpockets can ruin a vacation fast! Deter them by always being aware of your surroundings, and by keeping a close eye on your belongings, particularly when near crowded tourist attractions or on public transportation. Carry only the necessary amount of cash you'll need for the day and keep it in a secure place. Use a money belt or hidden pouch to store cash and cards. Keep a backup credit card back at your hotel.

9. Get travel insurance

Be aware of any conditions regarding travel for your health insurance and get travel insurance if needed for unexpected situations. I once fell on a trip and broke my leg — I was so grateful for insurance that covered my care outside of the country! Travel insurance can protect your family against unexpected events ranging from illness to weather issues. Review the policy coverage and understand the procedure for making claims so you know what you're buying.

10. Use reliable transportation

Choose reputable and licensed providers when using transportation. If you're taking a taxi, use official taxi stands or trusted ride-sharing services. Avoid sharing taxis with strangers, especially at night.

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11. Keep your hotel room safe

My family declines housekeeping services and instead asks for clean towels as needed to give the minimum number of hotel staff access to our room. Other ways to ensure you and your valuables are safe at a hotel: Make sure your room has proper locks, and consider using additional security measures like door wedges or travel door alarms. Leave the do not disturb sign up. 

12. Trust your instincts!

If a situation arises in which you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, trust your gut instincts and walk away. Remove yourself and your family however you can. Your safety should always be your top priority.

Keep in mind that these tips are meant as general guidelines, so be sure to adapt and implement them according to the unique conditions of your destination. Stay informed, stay prepared, and — most importantly — relish every moment of your travel while keeping your family's safety front and center. Bon voyage!

Jennifer Hill is the publisher of Macaroni KID Fremont, Calif.