Whether you’re taking the kids interstate or overseas, the experiences they’ll have will be invaluable. The different cultures, different ways of doing things and even sleeping in a different bed will help to take them out of their comfort zone and expand their minds.
As you are undoubtedly more than aware, going anywhere with children requires a lot of planning and preparation, and going on holidays will require a lot more thought than if you were just headed to the local beach.
Becoming sick, injured or losing something can happen to anyone of us due to no fault of our own, which is why we buy travel insurance. But there is precautionary action we can take to decrease the chance of something happening to our family while we’re enjoying our holidays.
Below are the most common scenarios your fellow travellers have experienced on their holidays and we're sharing them so you can possibly avoid something going wrong on yours.
In the event the unexpected does happen, be rest assured our Emergency Assistance will be right here waiting to help 24/7.
1. Stress to your children what they can and can’t eat and to always avoid tap water, even when brushing their teeth.
Seek out safe and less risky food options for the family. Your holiday could be ruined if everyone comes down with a stomach bug. Always have safe snacks and bottled water on hand for the kids, to cater for their thirst and hunger until you can find a safe meal option for the family.
2. Always cross the road at the lights and zebra crossings.
Re-emphasise to your kids the importance of road safety. Remind yourself and drum into your kids that cars may come from the opposite direction (or any direction in some countries) to what they’re used to. Look both ways multiple times before you cross any road and walk calmly across as a group. Particularly in Asian countries, running over the road or any sudden movements can be dangerous, as this may not give drivers enough time to adjust their vehicle’s direction to avoid hitting you.
3. Skip adventurous activities like bungee jumping, jet skiing or white water rafting in countries without highly regulated health and safety rules.
Kids are adventurous, but extreme and fun activities like bungy jumping, jet skiing or white water rafting overseas for the first time in a less developed country may not be the best idea.
4. Up the parental supervision, particularly for younger children.
Swimming pools probably won’t have fences, roads can be more dangerous, tap water can be contaminated and towns can be busier.
The combination of inquisitive children in a new environment, fatigue, or you being more relaxed in your supervision and lower standards of health and safety regulations at your destination can be a dangerous one.
5. Take and dress children appropriately for the climate.
If you’re heading overseas on holiday there’s a fair chance you’re going to the northern hemisphere where the seasons will be the opposite and winter can be far more extreme.
You may need to buy thermals, jackets, beanies, gloves and shoes specifically for the trip as your Australian winter woollies probably aren’t going to do the job in a northern hemisphere winter in Asia, Europe or North America.
Alternatively, you may be going straight into summer from our winter and need the sunscreen, hat and rash vests.
Check weather and clothing advice for that time of year and the weather forecasts just before you leave. Make sure you also pack appropriate clothing in your carry-on bag in case your luggage is delayed or lost, and the clothes the children have on may not be appropriate for your destination.
6. Take a good pair of flat soled and grippy shoes (sneakers) for both you and the children.
Putting on a pair of thongs makes you feel like you’re on holidays, but they aren’t the safest shoe to be wearing on holidays. A good pair of trainers is a much better choice for walking on uneven footpaths and roads, slippery and wet surfaces and up and down a lot of stairs, which are all very common overseas, especially throughout Asia.
7. Stay in main towns or resorts where you are likely to experience less problems and if you do, you will be nearer to medical attention.
Food and hygiene is likely to be of a relatively higher standard in the main towns and where tourists frequent. They are also probably going to be closer to medical assistance in the event your children or you need it. Check out online hotel reviews for the best places to stay for families.
8. Take anti-bacterial wipes and wipe down all surfaces in your accommodation such as coffee tables and chairs.
You may not want to know this, but hotel rooms don’t always get a full anti-bacterial clean after every guest checks out. Young children are more susceptible to germs, so wiping down the surfaces your children will be touching is a good idea. This is especially important if you have young ones who are crawling or just starting to walk, and will want to touch everything in their new environment.
9. Wash your kid’s hands whenever you get the chance and carry wet wipes and hand sanitiser with you everywhere.
Particularly in less developed countries, up the hand washing regime and sanitise your kid’s hands with wet wipes or hand sanitiser before every meal.
10. Take a small first aid kit with you.
You can then treat any minor injuries or illness before it has the chance to turn into something more serious. Pain medication, band-aids, antiseptic cream, anti-histamines, a thermometer, calamine lotion and Imodium are all good items to pack.
11. Research the food choices at your destination and pack some staples like vegemite or weet-bix.
Know what food is going to be available at our destination so you can plan what’s going to work for your children, especially if you aren’t going to western countries. If they don’t like the local food, if the food is going to upset their stomach or they do become ill, bring some vegemite or something similar with you so you can spread it on the local bread, or they can eat dry to get them through the day.
12. Get all your travel vaccinations done 4-6 weeks before you depart on your holiday.
You may need multiple injections for a vaccination over a period of time, and some vaccinations require a period of time to take affect prior to your departure. A GP at a vaccination centre can also provide some helpful health and safety advice for your holiday and destination.
13. In our opinion, riding or being a passenger on a motorbike, scooter or moped overseas just isn’t a risk worth taking for your family.
Scooters are a common mode of transport, especially throughout Asia, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe, especially if you’ve never done it before. Stick to taxis, buses and trains.
14. Seek transport with seatbelts and child seats if needed.
Many countries can have a more relaxed attitude to seatbelts than the compulsory one we have. Whenever you’re booking a tour, bus or airport transfer, request a vehicle with seatbelts and make sure they all work before you start your journey. Take your own booster seat with you for younger children or arrange to hire one at the airport.
If catching a taxi, check it has operational seatbelts before you commit to taking it.
15. In the 4-6 weeks prior to your holiday reduce exposure to illness and riskier activities.
Kids will be kids, so there’s not much chance of curbing their enthusiasm for adventure in the weeks leading up to your holiday, but where you can, you may want to limit riskier activities such as contact sports or downhill mountain biking.
No one wants to be sick on holidays, so all family members should try to avoid:
- Anyone you know is sick, such as friends, family and those in the workplace
- Day care centres when numerous children are sick
16. Stock up on your regular over the counter and prescription medication to cover the duration of your holiday, plus one week extra just in case.
If your children take regular medication, visit your GP a few weeks prior to departure to discuss your medication requirements such as prescription medication, including Ventolin for asthma.
It’s a good idea to carry the medication in your hand luggage instead of in your check-in luggage in case it’s delayed or misdirected.
17. Be prepared for any food allergies by calling ahead or taking your own food.
You’ll find it more difficult in some countries than others to cater for food allergies. Contact your airline, hotels, tour guides, restaurants, resorts etc beforehand to find out if they can cater to your circumstances.
It’s a good idea to take your own food, at least to get you through the first few days until you’re used to your surroundings and what they offer.
Read our guide to food allergy and intolerance.
18. Check that your rental car has somewhere where you can store your luggage and belongings out of sight.
If you don’t have a concealed storage area for your luggage and belongings and they get stolen, they won’t be covered by travel insurance. If you’re road tripping and you want to store your luggage in the car while you go shopping, visit Disneyland, hit the beach or have some lunch, hire a sedan with a lockable which is totally obscured from view and out of the sight of
Make sure you take absolutely everything out of your rental vehicle after dark as travel insurance doesn’t usually cover stolen belongings (even in a locked boot, glovebox or centre console) if they have been left in the car over-night.
19. Take only the gadgets you need.
Your kids (and possibly you) may be addicted to your gadgets, but consider whether every one of you needs a tablet, laptop, mobile, camera, gaming console etc on holidays.
Gadgets can be easily lost, stolen and damaged on holidays particularly if you’re constantly changing transport and hotels.
Plan carefully, take the necessary gadgets and leave the rest at home.
20. Never store all your gadgets and valuables together when on holidays.
It may make sense to put everyone’s mobiles, tablets, laptops and cameras in one bag, but if you lose that one bag, it’s left in the back of a taxi (happens a lot) or is stolen, you lose everything in one go. Whilst this will be a devastating moment for your kids, it could have a greater impact on your trip, as you could lose your booking confirmations, access to airline tickets, photos of your holiday, your easy contact with home and loss of your navigation device.
Also, split your valuables (credit cards, cash, passports, travel money cards etc) across all travellers and luggage to minimise the financial impact if anything is lost or stolen.
For example, when out and about for the day:
- Lock passports in the
- One credit card in mum’s purse
- One credit card in dad’s money belt and emergency cash in wallet
- Emergency cash or second credit card in child’s bag back
- One mobile locked in the hotel safe, one mobile with you
- Tablet in day bag
21. At all times, your luggage should remain in sight and within reach.
Whenever you’re out and about, there’s a chance of a thief or an opportunistic person looking to take your handbag, mobile, luggage, sunglasses, camera etc when you turn away for just a second. So don’t leave your belongings unsupervised. This includes leaving your sunglasses or phone as a place holder on your table while you order food or drinks or to get food from a buffet Your travel insurance may not cover you for the loss of unsupervised belongings.
22. Always triple check you have every item you arrived with before you leave anywhere.
Whenever you leave a hotel room make it a habit to check under the bed, the safe, cupboards, drawers, behind or under curtains and the bathroom. Every time you sit down on transport (plane, taxi, bus, train or boat), at a restaurant, beach, hotel lobby, ask everyone if they have their:
- Mobile phones
- Day bags
23. For security reasons, avoid logging into your bank account or entering passwords using free public wi-fi.
If you log into your bank account using public wi-fi, criminals may be able to intercept your logon information and log into your bank account. Losing all your savings isn’t an experience you want to have from any holiday.
24. Allocate enough time and then some extra, to get to airports, connecting flights and any pre-booked tours or activities.
You already know how hard it can be to round up the whole family to make it out the door on time to get to school or to a party. When travelling, you need to throw security checks, delayed flights, peak hour traffic, language barriers, immigration and being in an unknown city into the mix, so give yourself plenty of time.
25. If you’re planning on hiring a car, make sure you have the correct licence for the country you’re driving in.
Apart from needing to have a valid Australian driver’s licence, research the licensing requirements for your destination, as an international driving permit may not be enough - you may need to have a local licence.
Need more information?
26. Read our in-depth family health and safety guide.
Read our practical guide filled with health and safety tips so that your holiday, whether by car, train, plane or boat is as enjoyable and trouble-free as possible.
You can’t predict what will happen, but you can do things before and during your holiday to avoid an incident or accident and having to make a claim on your travel insurance when you return.
Make sure you take the necessary precautions and go ahead, take the family on that well deserved holiday, and enjoy!