Whether you’re traveling in a big, populated city, a crowded amusement park or even a small town with a jam-packed festival, guaranteeing that your kids stay with you and don’t get separated can be tough. What are some good ways to ensure that your kids stay at your side and don’t get lost in a big crowd? I recently was part of a discussion on a family travel Facebook page and wanted to address the topic a little further. Thus far, the most nervous that I’ve ever been about making sure my kiddos were at my side was in Tokyo – droves of people on the subway, in the train stations and on the sidewalks.
Obviously, hand-holding is the best way to keep them at your side. I’m big on hand-holding – I like having that physical touch to ensure my boys are attached to me or my husband, even with my 10-year old who may not always want to abide. Since we have two boys, each of us takes one kid. But sometimes even man-on-man defense can be tricky (juggling purses, maps and other items) and zone defense for parents traveling with kids that outnumber their hands is nearly impossible. I do like giving my 10-year old a little bit of freedom, and it’s good for him to learn some independence (even if it is as simple as just walking close by us and not holding our hand in a crowd. Don’t even get me started on having my boys go into a restroom by themselves), but I still get anxious.
Here are a few tips for peace of mind and ensure that you can find them easily and quickly if you get separated
- If your hands are full, have your child hold on to a purse strap, or backpack strap. This is a good way to keep them close, and you’ll still be able to “feel” them close by with the pressure of them hanging on to something that’s on your person.
- Dress your kids in similar bright colors or the same brightly colored hat. This is one of the best ways to spot your kids – even if they’re on a playground, and definitely if you’re in a crowd. I LOVE this orange hat from Home Prefer – not only great for spying your kiddos, but also offers some sun protection.
My other favorite are these raincoats (see pic at top). These little yellow jawas (Star Wars reference) were easy to spot everywhere. You should also take a quick pic of your kids before heading out into the crowds, just so you have quick and accurate details of their clothes if you need it.
- Parents should also wear easily identifiable clothing or accessories. I have a red sling pack that I wear on most trips and my boys know to look for it. When I was a kid, my 6’3″ bald dad’s head shone like a beacon if we ever strayed too far from him.
- Put ID bands on their wrists or ankles, especially for little ones who don’t know their phone number yet. I love these disposable ones from Kenson Kids where you can write out specific information – we used these on a trip to London and they lasted a few days. You can also purchase more permanent versions with Velcro or watch-like straps. My sister used to write her phone number on her kids stomachs with a Sharpie. I once wrote phone numbers on my kids’ arms and then coated it with a layer of liquid bandage – it doesn’t last as long as the Sharpie, though. I also have put my name and phone number on a piece of paper and put it in their pockets, but it’s not as full-proof as other methods.
- Have kids carry smart phones or smart watches. GPS trackers for kids (buttons you can clip to clothing or wristbands) are somewhat controversial due to privacy issues. Most of the ones I’ve researched require some kind of subscription service through a cell phone provider or other GPS tracking program. If your kids don’t have cell phones, see if you have any old phones and buy a simple service that’s pay-as-you-go or use a service with a pre-paid card.
What are your tips to ensure your kids are safe in a crowd?
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