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Five Tips for a Safer Family Trip. For families traveling together staying safe should be a no brainer but sometimes common sense precautions are pushed to the side to avoid stress or save time. Travel Safely Open Road Ahead

I am not referring to the abandonment of common sense practices like an auto safety check, using seat belts, or crossing streets safely and parking lots safely. I am talking about the second level of safe practices which are essential during the bridge time between home and your vacation base, the time when plenty of things will be out of your control. Travel Safely Window View of Greenland

Whether it’s a road trip, train trip or plane trip, it is wise to establish your own family travel rules for safety. Naturally rules evolve as families mature and when children know what the rules are ahead of time, the potential for stress en route is diminished. 

Because my husband spent more than 30 years in federal law enforcement, 10 with the Department of Homeland Security, traveling safely remains part of our family culture. Our family mix has always included strong willed, independent, sometimes stubborn individuals but because we choose to travel together, we all abide by the rules. Travel is our family hobby. Our trips often include three generations, sometimes cousins and extended but everyone knows our basic rules of safe travel. 

Leave on time. Safe travel rules begin with a timely departure from home and remains in place until you reach your destination. The reasoning is obvious when leaving late there is no built in safety cushion of time and speed limits are often ignored. If leaving on time seems like an impossibility build in a cushion of time.  If it is essential to be out the door by 9 am then the target time for children and the chronically late must be 8 am. My neighbor offers each of his children, ages a monetary reward for early departure. According to his 10-year-old, he pays $5 for 15 minutes but the dog doesn’t count. 

Decide on a trip leader. To lessen stress caused by situations out of your control, move and act as a group. While traveling one adult needs to be the point person and all travelers need to know who it is. This is the person with a fully charged cell phone and the phone numbers of all travelers in the group. This person is also the one with the schedules and directions, reservation numbers and passports if needed. It is the person who makes certain each traveler has an ID on their person, not just in a carry on or backpacks, and that everyone has emergency contact information with them.US HWY 1 Stay Safe in Florida
 
Use the buddy system. Just like swimming at the lake or in the sea, the buddy system is an invaluable tool to sustain safe travels. In parking lots buddies depart and return to the vehicle together. At airports and in hotel lobbies while someone watches the stuff, the buddy system makes bathroom breaks easy. It makes going through security checkpoints less stressful and exercise a possibility when delays occur.  

Listen and observe. While on the move everyone must practice situational awareness. Think of the journey as an adventure by itself knowing along the way the landscape will change, the environment may become unfamiliar, and unforeseen delays may occur. Insist that your children use active listening. Listen to the adult in charge; listen to security staff; listen to the stewardess. Encourage them to keep track of their own possessions and actively observe their surroundings. In public spaces such as restaurant, convenience stores, and hotel lobbies make note of exits or egress routes in case of emergency. When parking the car anytime choose a well light location preferably in an open space where approaching line of site is clear.

Remain calm. A positive, flexible attitude, even if you have to fake it, will keep your family safer. Sometimes travel expectations fall short of the mark. Rooms aren’t ready, flights are delayed, train connections are missed, and shuttles don’t run on time. For some, frustrations can lead to anger be watchful, patient and flexible. Remember your kids are watching and they will learn more than you might imagine by your actions, positive or negative.
 
If this sounds like micro managing, think again. The idea is to travel safely together not just for one trip but for all subsequent trips and to enjoy the journey and time with each other. 

More travel advice is available at Family Travel Files including safe travel with babies

Advice and images by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Copyright updated 2017. 

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