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Before we set off on our road trip around Australia, I’d wake up in cold sweats freaked out about crocodiles eating the girls.
I’d have a momentary lapse of concentration and with one quick snap, they were the new form of chicken dinner.
I’m not just being facetious here in order to tell a good story, I had anxiety about the crocodiles in the Top End of Australia.
So much that I contemplated skipping the Top End. Now that we passed through, and survived, I can tell you the fear was totally unwarranted but was good to have because it kept me super vigilant.
It meant when we did things like the Yellow Water Billabong Cruise in Kakadu, I couldn’t really settle into enjoying it and I spent more time hawk-eyeing the girls than the surrounding beauty.
When we watched the man who let his young son play by the river’s edge and throw rocks into the water while they waited for a croc tour from the deck of our balcony at Daintree Village, I nearly threw up, fainted and screamed at him to
“Get the hell away from there. Crocs live in the water! You’re about to go on a damn tour to see them!”
Travel tip number one to keep our kids safe – don’t be stupid! Seriously.
It’s a big, bad world out there filled with monsters in all shapes and forms. We gotta take care of our kids.
Nah, the world is not that scary, but we still gotta take care of our kids.
15 tips to keep our kids safe
1. Make smart choices
Swimming in a croc-infested river, or playing at the edge of it, is just not smart. Ever.
Don’t take a 10 km hike in the middle of the day. Know your child’s limits and capabilities. Don’t travel to countries that are high-risk due to war or political situations. You’re smart enough to know what’s safe and what’s not. If in doubt, research and ask.
2. Know your risks
Crocodiles kill with one flying snap you can’t even see. Don’t get complacent or take anything for granted. Be vigilant.
Watch for danger, understand what the risks are for anything you do and if it’s too great to protect your child’s safety, then don’t do it.
Don’t go crazy about it and let unwarranted fear get in the way of life lessons and fun.
Our daughters still do things like snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, go quad biking, swim with manta rays, and zip line over the rainforest.
But, we make sure there are plenty of safety precautions in place and we always triple check that children of their age can do it safely.
3. Buy travel insurance
Get travel insurance. It’s not worth the risk. Anything can and will happen.
Make sure you’re adequately covered in case of an unfortunate accident or emergency. Be sure to read the fine print. Some activities may not be covered by travel insurance; you may want to purchase extra coverage to ensure adequate protection.
Don’t forget domestic travel insurance. It’s easy to think you don’t need it, but accidents can happen within your own country too. Just think of those crocodiles.
I heard a story this past week of a lady who was feeding fish out of a boat in Queensland and a shark bit off the top of her finger! True story. She had to be helicoptered out of there! EEK! There goes your savings along with your finger.
Plus, delays can still happen and luggage can still get lost.
Read more – 15 tips for buying the best travel insurance
4. Drink plenty of (filtered) water
In many countries, bottled or filtered water will be your only option. This includes brushing your teeth and keeping your mouth closed when you shower. Train your children to practice this before they leave for the holiday.
Keep up their hydration while traveling so ensure they are constantly drinking, especially on hot days. Water is always the best option. Skip the juice and soft drinks.
It’s worth carrying your own water bottle with a filter to save money and ensure you’re drinking clean water.
5. Be careful of food choices
This is especially important in countries where health regulations may not be as prevalent. Still get into the culture, and enjoy the street food, but make sure it looks fresh, healthy and it’s frequented by the locals.
Read more – The real reason you should eat street food
6. Wear safety vests
We rarely get on a boat without putting safety life vests on the kids. It’s the first thing we ask for when we get on the boat.
I’m not going to take the risk. It’s too easy for something to happen quickly. As your children get older, wiser and more competent, stronger swimmers, this won’t be necessary.
You might even want to carry your own, which is what we also did. Some places may not have them, especially in countries within South East Asia.
7. Be prepared
Children at different ages require different things to keep them healthy and safe.
Ensure you have enough water and food for your journey packed in your bag, along with any required medication. If your child requires a certain diet, research ahead of your family holiday to ensure you can adequately provide for that.
8. Be diligent
It’s so easy to take your eyes off your child, anything can happen in a blink of an eye.
Keep your children nearby, scan ahead and around for potential dangers. Set the safe boundaries wherever you are and ensure your children know where they can and can’t go.
Don’t be all freaked out about scary strangers, allow your children to develop those social skills and lovely interactions, but still be stranger danger alert.
9. Watch the heat
The heat can quickly wipe a child out and cause them to feel ill. Protect them from the sun, keep them cool and explore early morning and late evening on hot days.
Read More – Tips for traveling in the heat with kids
10. Seat your child in the middle
Sit your child in the middle or next to the window on public transport, just in case you fall asleep and they don’t wander off.
This will also keep them from sticking their legs and hands out into the aisle and potentially grabbing hot coffee or something dangerous.
11. Take a safety child restraint
Research ahead to know the child safety seat requirements for cars in your destination. It’s a good idea to either take your own child safety car seat or rent one when you arrive in your destination.
There are some regions, like Asia, where this won’t be necessary – neither are seat belts! Sit them on your lap, hold tight and do not let them get up and wander around in a mini-van, as much as they want to.
12. Don’t overload your prams
Travel Prams can be brilliant for helping you carry extra bags and luggage. Just be careful you don’t load it too much and the pram falls over. I’ve heard of babies dying as a result of this. It’s an important travel safety tip with kids you may not have considered.
13. Childproof your room
Accidents can so easily happen in your accommodation. Check the height of balconies and windows and keep them locked. Move anything that can fall or looks dangerous.
Check for exposed electrical cords around protruding bits of metal or sharp objects. Remove chairs from balconies as children love to climb on them.
Watch for bunk beds and remove the ladders if you can. Savannah fell off the top. Even though we were diligent in not letting climb the ladder, she found an opening when I was busy packing. It was so scary.
Keep the door locked so they can’t escape. We still don’t know how Savannah did it, but she snuck out of our hotel room in Melbourne, got in the lift and found her way down to the lobby. Another terrifying moment in a day with Savannah. She’s the wild one keeping us on our toes.
14. Take a medical kit
Don’t forget your travel medical kit with baby paracetamol, band aids, anti-itching lotion, sunscreen, bandages, bug spray, oral rehydration preparation and anything else you feel is valuable. A thermometer is a really important tool for your medical kit.
15. Get your travel immunizations
Ensure you know what immunisations your child needs and get them. Prepare in advance as some have to be given x amount of days before you arrive at your destination.
Need more family travel tips?
Check out these posts:
- 25 tips for travel with kids
- Tips for eating out with kids
- 16 tips for hiking with kids