Over our spring break vacation to Monterey we lost my 5 year old son. One moment he was playing on the lonely beach in the sand with my husband. The next moment he was gone. It was the scariest ten minutes of our lives, not knowing where he was. Looking back there are a few things we should have done to ensure that he’d never been lost in the first place. And there are also steps and precautions we can take in the future to keep him safe. Here are my tips and products that help keep kids safe on vacation.
Getting Lost (Scary for Kids & Parents!)
On our Monterey vacation I was on the hotel balcony watching my sons and husband on the beach below. My husband and teenager were poking in the sand with a stick, looking for crabs while my preschooler ran up and down the wet sand behind them. When the baby needed a diaper change I took her inside and returned to the balcony a few minutes later. What I saw next made my heart stop.
My eldest son was yelling up to me, “Mom, is Dillon up there with you?”
Then I saw my husband. He was running up and down the beach, calling Dillon’s name. He was stopping strangers to ask if they’d seen a little boy in a blue bathing suit.
He didn’t go into the water, I knew that (he was scared of the ocean’s big waves). My eyes squinted at a crowd of people sunbathing in the distance. Had he wandered that far?
My husband was now in full panic mode. He ran around to the front of the hotel, concerned that my son might have gone with someone to the parking lot. My teenager was racing down to the crowd further down the beach. I raced down to the hotel lobby.
I met my husband in the lobby as he’d looped around the front of the hotel. He was cradling our 5-year old in his arms. My son had wandered into the lobby, wanting to return to the hotel room and asked for his mommy. The reception desk had wrapped him in a towel and had him stay put. Thank goodness, found.
Tips to Keeping Kids Safe on Vacation
It was a scary 10 minutes and honestly, it’s taken its toll on us all. For the first month after our vacation, my son was extremely clingy and afraid of getting lost. He has cried during drop offs at school and Sunday school at church, something very unusual for my independent boy. I started trying to think of ways that we could have kept him safe.
Here are tips and products that help keep kids safe on vacation.
I received complimentary product for testing and review. All opinions are my own. Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through helps me in a small financial way, thank you!
If my son had been wearing a SafetyTat when he was lost, it would have saved us 10 minutes of worry. The hotel lobby would have been able to call me immediately! SafetyTat is a water-resistant temporary tattoo. The original SafetyTat can be pre-printed with your contact info and applies with a damp paper towel.
Write-on SafetyTat peels and sticks with a bit of pressure and can be personalized with the included water resistant pen. I love the idea of using the SafetyTat when traveling to busy locations like at the zoo, children’s museum or amusement park when kids can easily become lost.
In addition to returning lost kids, several of the SafetyTats have specific child-safety needs printed on the tattoo. Alerts like, “I have Autism”, “Allergies – Ask First!”, “Non-Verbal” and “Alert – Diabetic” help other adults know immediately about your child’s special needs. These special SafetyTats would be great for children to wear when in large groups where they might be separated from their parents, like at day camp, church or at a party.
2. Fairy Tales Bug Bandit
I received a complimentary bottle of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit Repellent just in time for my trip to Orlando Florida. On my last visit, I’d gotten a nasty bug bite on the final day and it took ten full days to clear! I was hoping to avoid such a fate this time, especially for my kids!
The contents of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit are Deet-free and include lemon Eucalyptus oil, soybean oil, cedar bark, citronella, peppermint and rosemary blend. These non-toxic and pesticide free ingredients help to repel mosquitoes, flies, fleas, gnats and other biting insects. It’s proven effective in children 3+, though I did use it sparingly on my 1-year old’s legs and arms with good success.
Simply spray the Fairy Tales Bug Bandit onto your body after dressed and ready to head outside. It worked like a charm! The smell is pleasant and works for several hours.
And then there was the day I forgot to apply the spray. I was headed to a conference and stepped outside briefly to access another building and within 2 minutes a bug got me. Within moments my ankle was swollen and itchy, ugh! I immediately texted my sister-in-law to remind her to spray the kids before they went outside! Happy to report that my kids returned from our week-long vacation without one bug bite.
3. Travel Baby-Proofing Safety Kit
Before settling in at the hotel, make sure you check out the room for any potentially hazardous items. Looped window cords? Furniture that your toddler or child could climb and topple over? Loose cables? Exposed electrical outlets? Bring a safety kit along with you on your travels to “baby-proof” the room (even if your child is no longer a baby, they might become curious).
If your baby will be using the hotel crib, be sure to inspect it for any loose screws, chipping paint or pinchable parts. If you’re taking medications with you, be sure that they stay inside their child-proof bottles and keep out of the reach of your children (consider a box with a lock).
4. Disinfect to Help Prevent Stomach Bug
Ugh, nothing ruins a vacation like coming down with the stomach bug. Help keep the bug from spreading through the family with frequent hand-washing, the use of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Wipe down things in the airplane before flying, like the arm rests and pull-down table. Disinfect items in the hotel room that are frequently touched, like the door knobs and remote control. Of course if spending your vacation in another country make sure that the water is drinkable before allowing your child to sip.
5. Avoid Sunburn
If your kids are extremely prone to sunburn, consider indoor activities during the day and then swim at night. I’ve found that one of the best ways to avoid sunburn is to cover up as much as possible. My kids have Lands’ End rash guards with UPF 50 rating. A hat for toddlers that can be worn while their splashing will protect scalps and faces.
And of course, you can’t forget the sunscreen! Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before getting into the water otherwise it’s just going to rinse off in the pool!
6. Pack a Get-Well Bag
Despite all preparations sometime your child may get sick. Rather than have to make a run to the 24 hour market at 3 am, have a get-well bag ready to go with what you might need.
- Stomach pain relief like Pepto Child antacids
- Fever reducer, like Little Remedies Fever Pain Reliever for Children
- Children’s Dye-Free Benadryl (in case of allergy)
- Aloe vera or sunburn relief cream
- Anti-itch spray or lotion in case of rash or bug bite
- Travel First Aid Kit with antiseptic and bandages
Don’t assume that you’ll have the car seat you need when you arrive. For instance Uber may provide car seats for some children. However they don’t have rear-facing car seats that children under two must use. For infants and toddlers, it’s best to bring your own.
For pre-K and up, bring along a mifold Grab-and-Go Car Booster Seat. Weighing only about one and a half pounds, the mifold is a booster seat designed for ages 4 to 12. So clever and convenient when using Uber, Lyft or a taxi.
If renting a stroller at your vacation location, be sure to inspect for any spots that might pinch little fingers. Always use the buckles to secure your child in tightly. Get in the habit of putting the stroller brake on each and every time you let go of the handle. You never know when the stroller might roll away from you. Never leave your child in a stroller unsupervised.
8. Safety After Dark
If you’re worried about losing your kids, it can be even more challenging once night falls. Remind kids to stay close to you. Carry a flashlight. I keep a supply of glow necklaces and bracelets for my kids to wear when we’re walking about after dark. If walking in a dark area where there are vehicles, dress your children in light colored clothing. Consider adding a reflective strip of tape to their back and down each pant leg for better visability.
Other Things You Can Do to Keep Safety First
- Before hitting the road for an extended vacation, be sure to schedule a pre-trip check up with your child’s pediatrician. The doctor will be able to check for any developing illnesses.
- Bring your child’s immunization records.
- Dress your child in very bright clothing. It’s so much easier to see them if you can spot a bright yellow, orange or hot pink shirt.
- Remind kids not to touch wild animals (this includes squirrels and pigeons)
- Take a photo of your child each morning so you have a record of what they are wearing.
- Before going into an establishment (like a theme park or museum) discuss what to do if lost.
- Wash hands frequently and especially before eating.
- Remind children to stay put in case they are lost.
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!