Traveling with your children can be at once one of the most rewarding and most frustrating experiences you can have. But there are things you can do to make it more the former. All it takes is simply planning ahead and using smart tools to keep yourselves feeling prepared and safe.
Technology has enabled several such tools that you can use to keep your kids (and you) safe and sane while far from home. Best of all, they don’t require an engineering degree to use. Here are just a few:
Plan, plan and plan some more. Sure, you can’t anticipate everything that could happen on a trip, but you can at least cover the basics. Pre-arrange transportation and, of course, lodgings. Research the area where you’re going for activities and restaurants.
Dig a little deeper on travel review sites, news sites and address lookup sites to get a better lay of the land in terms of crime, especially in the immediate area where you’re planning on staying.
Tablets & Cell Phones
The idea of using electronic devices while traveling as a family may seem antithetical to your travel goals. After all, you probably want your children to soak up local culture, and interact with you and their surroundings, not have their eyes glued to a screen the whole time.
However, in the process of getting to where you’re going, you will likely find that having movies, TV shows or books available on an easy-to-transport device will keep kids calmer and happier. Exactly how and how much electronic device use you allow once you arrive at your destination is up to you.
On your child’s electronic devices, you have the ability to control how long they can be online, and limit the types of content they can see. Whether at home or away, you can alter those settings, too, to set controls that you feel are appropriate to a given situation.
Most devices come with standard parental control settings, but you can also look into third-party apps to buy if you need more customizable options.
In many cases, getting access to free pubic wi-fi is like hitting the jackpot. But public networks are not secure, and can leave your devices and information vulnerable. Use a VPN app to set up a virtual private network for your family. This will give you both the internet access you want and the privacy you need.
There is an app for virtually any aspect of traveling: itinerary planners, gas station finders, flight trackers, interactive maps, ride sharing, etcetera. Whatever your interest is, there is a travel app that you can use to find the sights you want to see and keep from getting lost in the process.
Most of us have had that experience of total panic when we lose sight of our child while out and about. You probably won’t be able to control that initial flash of fear, but you can control your ability to locate your child afterward.
In addition to parental controls over their general usage, you also have the inherent ability to track your child’s cell phone location. Assuming your child has their phone with them all the time, this enables you to keep a virtual eye on your child. Just configure the location services on their phone, and you will have a good idea of where your child may have wandered off to.
This is also a good option for anytime you may decide to let your older children go off and do some exploring on their own.
If your child doesn’t have a phone, or they aren’t always good about keeping it with them, you could also consider alternate kinds of tracking devices. Tracking watches for kids are GPS-enabled and waterproof, with all the high-tech touchscreen and wi-fi functionality that modern kids and parents have come to expect. Best of all, they come in a range of styles and colors, which allows your child to make a modern fashion statement (and keep wearing it) at the same time you’re keeping track of where he or she is.
There are also clip-on versions of these tracking devices. Simply attach it to your child’s belt loop or backpack, or anywhere else where you won’t worry about them taking it off or misplacing it.
Traveling with your children should be a time of wonder and discovery. It should be about bonding and making memories, not constant worrying about safety. Fortunately, with technological tools like these at your disposal, you can put your safety concerns to rest and just enjoy the ride.