Parent to Parent

Travel Safely This Holiday

by Patti Hermes

holiday family travelAnother holiday season, another excuse to set off on a Family Road Trip. There’s no shortage of safe driving tips out there, but how do you keep your entire family safe away from home? Let’s face it, holiday travelers are a favorite target of thieves and scam artists. And families, particularly those with a few wandering little children and a couple of distracted parents, are considered easy prey.

So how do you keep your family and belongings safe and secure while traveling? Especially when traveling long distances by car or waiting in long airport lines, the weariness of just getting to your destination can often blot out your most basic instincts regarding personal safety.

The two most important things to remember when planning any trip is to plan ahead and delegate what you can. Even young children can take responsibility for certain favored belongings. If it’s too precious to risk losing, then maybe it should stay at home. Certainly, there will be some items that are indeed precious, but must come along on the trip anyway. Decide ahead of time who will be responsible for what, and stick to it. And remember, your first priority is your children, not their stuff. My boys have learned the harsh reality of leaving behind a favored Hot Wheels, and they get over it quickly.

And then there’s the time we spent three days wondering where “blankie” was, only to realize we had left it at one of our overnight stops. After several phone calls (keep those motel receipts, they come in handy!) it was finally located and was returned by mail, COD. It would’ve been cheaper to replace it, if it were replaceable. We were lucky, that time.

Every time you stop the car is an opportunity for something to go wrong. Rest stops are an indication that everyone must be alert, for themselves and their stuff in order to remain safe. As you all exit the car, stretching your weary bodies, are children paying attention to “parking lot rules” or are they jumping out of the car and immediately running around as if they were in their own driveway? I constantly remind my children that other drivers are tired, too, and they are not watching out for children.

While most of my security measures are directed at keeping my family safe, my husband is the expert at keeping our stuff safe and secure. It’s all in how you pack, and where you park.

When packing a car, you inevitably stow things in the trunk, out of sight of potential thieves. SUV’s and minivans have their own security issues. Tinted windows in the back are nice, but covering up belongings is better, and both together is best. We use a plain dark cover that slides over the entire cargo area in the back, but we also have to limit visibility in the back seats. Making sure everything is neat and has its place makes it easier to just toss one of the boys’ fleece blankets over everything. Keeping any wrapped presents, as well as electronics out of sight makes our vehicle less of a target for thieves. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I see it all the time: never, never, never leave a purse (or your pink Razr cell phone) sitting on the front seat, no matter how short you think the stop is. It’s called asking for trouble.

When stopping overnight, don’t forget to think safety while looking for the best deal in a hotel or motel. Sometimes the extra money is worth some peace of mind, and a good night’s sleep. An uncluttered, well-lit parking lot is a good sign. Pretty much any newer looking hotel with a well-known name close to the highway, and away from adult bookstores should be a pretty safe bet. This is one area where you’d be better off not going off the beaten path, into unknown areas.

A little common sense goes a long way. So use your head, be aware of your surroundings, and stay safe this holiday season. And don’t forget to buckle up!

Patti Hermes

Patti Hermes, Parent to Parent, is living the dream with her high school sweetheart, raising their boys in the Midwest because it's a good starting point for epic road trips. While writing, reading and homeschooling take up most of her time, she still blogs at HermesParent to ParentParentingParent to Parent Travel Safely This Holiday by Patti Hermes Another holiday season, another excuse to set off on a Family Road Trip. There's no shortage of safe driving tips out there, but how do you keep your entire family safe away from home? Let's face it, holiday...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids