If you’re like most parents, your dream family vacation doesn’t involve trips to the emergency room, lost kids, or calls to your insurance company.

Or maybe it does, who am I to judge?

But for most, having a fun family vacation bursting with positive memories also means having a safe vacation.

Looking for tips on how to keep your home, family, and possessions safe while on vacation? Read on to discover the secrets to a safe family vacation.


Pick a family friendly destination

“Family friendly” will mean different things to different people at different times. An extreme backpacking trip through dense, dangerous territory may not be “family friendly” for a family with newborn triplets. A trip to Las Vegas may not be “family friendly” to a conservative, religious family.

When planning your vacation, look for destinations and activities that:

  • welcome to families and children,
  • are safe for your child’s age/physical abilities, and
  • suit your child’s emotional/mental maturity

Health and safety should play a big role in picking a destination vacation. Is a city making headlines for its social unrest? Probably not the time to visit. Planning an international trip? Steer clear of the 14 Latin American and Caribbean countries currently affected by Zika.

When in doubt, road trips, camping trips, beach vacations, and amusement parks are perennial family vacation favorites for a reason.


Clean up to pack smart

Sometimes packing smart is more about what you leave behind than what you take.

For example, you’re unlikely to need grandma’s heirloom jewelry on a family vacation. While leaving that behind is an easy decision, leaving electronics behind may be the harder choice. If you have a smartphone, ask if you really need to bring a laptop and/or tablet along. Help the kids narrow down their electronic entertainment choices as well.

Take time to clean out your wallet/purse/bag before leaving. Leave behind everything but the essentials. That includes credit cards. Narrow down the cards you’re carrying to one or two.


Proceed with caution

If you must bring valuables, make an office safe a “must have” on your hotel search.

Hotel room safes are very easy to break into, but many hotels offer an office safe, which is much more secure. If you have to take valuables, arrange to store them in the office safe instead of your room.

When out and about, be smart about where you’re keeping your money and credit cards:

  • Keep wallets in inner pockets
  • Pick a purse that zips closed
  • Choose crossbody bags
  • Wear a fanny pack or money pouch

Don’t forget to keep car safety in mind. When traveling:

  • Park in well lit areas
  • Never leave car running and unattended
  • Always lock doors
  • Never leave valuables visible

Remember: your hotel staff is a great safety resource. Seek advice on routes to take, sights to see, and areas to avoid.


Protecting the ol’ homestead

An empty house is a prime target for thieves. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to disguise your absence.

Start with the obvious:

  • Lock all entry points
  • Put lights on a timer
  • Schedule a mail hold
  • Don’t schedule package deliveries
  • Don’t put your address on luggage tags (phone numbers or email only)

After you’ve taken care of the obvious, it’s time to get help. Ask people you trust to:

  • Mow your lawn
  • Take care of pets
  • Do periodic checks on the house
  • Park in your driveway

Friendly neighbors are your biggest asset. Let them know when you’ll be gone so they can keep an eye out. Don’t forget to tell them if you have a friend or other helper stopping by so they don’t call the cops on your dogsitter!

Finally, never publicize your absence on social media. Insta-face-tweeting your vacation may get you a lot of likes, but it also lets criminals know that you’re not home.


Keeping kids out of trouble

Keeping your kids safe and healthy on vacation may seem daunting, but it really comes down to the simple things.

Start with structure. You know your kids best, so you know how much sleep, food, quiet time, and playtime they need to keep them from going off the rails. If they’re out of sorts, it will be harder for them to remember and follow safety instructions.

Teach them how to be safe. That might include a simple plan to follow if they get lost or how to be a safe car passenger.

Sun and water are two of the most common vacation hazards. Be sure to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before exposure and follow directions for reapplication. Let kids pick their sunglasses and hats to help ensure they’ll wear them. Always choose beaches with lifeguards, but never leave your kids unattended near water even with lifeguards.

Your family’s safety is important. Luckily, keeping them safe doesn’t have to complicate your vacation plans. Following these simple tips will help you enjoy a safe, memorable trip.


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