It’s important for every parent to talk to their children about how to keep themselves safe. Should the worst case happens and you’re child becomes separated from you, then it’s vital that they know what to do, and how to keep as safe as possible until they can reunite with you. We get asked a lot for travel safety tips for kids, so here’s our thoughts.
It’s a sad fact of life that kids go missing across Australia, and while it’s easy to teach kids about safety and danger within their own, regular neighbourhoods, as a family travelling in Australia, it’s important for our children to be street smart and really aware of their own safety and have coping strategies to use should they find themselves scared, lost or threatened.
If there is any family that has suffered so publicly and touched the hearts of so many people, not only from Australia, but around the world, then the Morcombe’s are that family. Their son Daniel was abducted and after many years of searching, a man was finally found guilty of his murder. The scary thing is, that the Morcombe family are just like all of us, and I’m sure like so many they never for a single moment believed their world would be turned upside down.
But if there is anyone in the world I admire for their strength, endurance and dedication to changing the world, then Bruce and Denise Morcombe would be those people. The Morcombe’s now spend their time helping to develop programs to teach children about safety, and regularly hosting presentations.
Here’s some tips the Morcombe’s Give to Kids:
“Our son Daniel did not get a second chance. His legacy is that you can learn from this tragic event and make sure it does not happen again. Daniel has given you that second chance.
- When you can, stay with a friend. Even if you have a fight with your mate, don’t go off alone.
- Be observant. Notice who’s around you and what they’re doing.
- Have a family password. Something like your favourite food – lasagne, for example. If a person says they are meant to pick you up, test them on the password.
- With your parents, make a list of 5 adults you trust. If you ever feel uneasy about anybody or anything, tell one of these people and know you won’t get into trouble. If you feel you’re not being listened to, try someone else.
- Don’t share information about yourself, like your hobbies or the name of your school with people you don’t know, online or in real life.
- If something feels wrong, it probably is. Trust the butterflies in your stomach – they could be a sign something’s not right.
- It’s okay to run and scream if you feel threatened. Safety is more important than good manners.”
It’s not a nice subject to think about or talk about, but I know I am super conscious of where my kids are at every second we’re in a new environment, and that’s quite often when you’re out on the road. I’ll be discussing the above strategies with my kids although as we’re not at home some of them won’t be as relevant.
The trick is to be cautious without being fearful, a life lived in fear isn’t a life lived fully is it?
If you’re a family travelling then one thing you will learn is that there are wonderfully kind people everywhere. We seem to be surrounded by amazing, free spirited people who share their stories and experiences with us and others and it truly does open your eyes to the kindness of human nature. But, of course things can happen, whether you’re at home, or on the road and it pays to ensure your children are cautious but not overly fearful.
We set boundaries and use techniques that help our kids stay safe, keep in mind our kids are 11, 9 & 7 and they are mature enough for us to have begun giving them greater responsibility and slowly increase their freedom, if your children are younger, then some of what we do might not apply.
Here’s our tips for child safety when travelling.
- Use small handheld walkie talkies – We purchased these before we hit the road, and they are a great option to give the kids some independence without losing contact of them all together.
- Dogs are great for safety – We have our dog on the road with us, he’s a Kelpie and really friendly, but his best feature is loyalty and I have no doubt whatsoever if anyone tried to harm the kids he’d come straight to their defence.
- Safety in Numbers – Our kids don’t go anywhere alone, if one goes they all go. This helps because of their age and the fact there’s three of them. It would be more difficult with only children of course, but we find this rule works for ours.
- Discretion with Online Info – I rarely post photos or activities that we’re doing on the day or time we’re doing them. Yes, we have a popular travel website and yes we post on social media, but my foremost thought is safety for our kids, so you’ll rarely see us post real time activities unless it’s appropriate.
- Give Guidelines – If our kids are offered something by other travellers, and they often are, then they know they must come and ask our permission first. They know not to enter anyone else’s caravan unless we have approved that and know they are there, and they know to ask before they leave our field of vision.
- It’s important for us to let go as parents. I’m mindful that I’ve always been unapologetically careful of where my kids are and what they’re doing but they are getting older and part of growing up is learning how to operate safeul in the world