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A Guide to Keeping Your Kids Safe While on a Road or Camping Trip

Road trips are fun, but they aren’t completely danger-free. Extra caution is necessary when you’re traveling with kids. Try these tips to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.

Make an Emergency Plan

Even if you’re the most watchful parent, there’s a small chance that your children will get separated from the rest of the party. Talk to your kids about this potential, and make sure everyone knows what to do.

Start by asking your kids to memorize your cell phone number. If they’re old enough to carry their own phones, keep the batteries charged at all times. Your kids should be able to call you if they get lost.

Next, choose a home base at each location. If you’re camping, home base is your campsite. If you’re visiting a town, home base is the hotel. If you’re at the zoo for the day, home base should be the visitor’s center. Older kids will be able to return to the specified location if they get lost.

When you’re traveling with multiple kids, set up a buddy system. Younger kids should buddy with adults, and older kids can buddy with each other. Don’t let anyone wander off by themselves.

Create an Emergency Kit

An emergency kit will save your family from most disasters. The basics include bottled water, prepackaged food items, jumper cables, and a first aid kit. You also want to include flashlights, cell phone chargers, and necessities specific to your situation.

Show your kids where the emergency kit is located. Popular places include the glove box or under the driver’s seat. They probably won’t need to access the kit, but should they be alone for some reason, they need to know where to get first aid supplies.

Keep the Back Seat Clear

Sudden stops can send items flying around a car. Don’t store heavy bags or camping equipment in the back seat; a falling bag could easily hurt a small child.

Store items in your trunk or on the ute tray. If your trunk is accessible from the back seat, make sure all bags are well secured. Many car interiors include loops where you can attach bungee cords. Try a test drive around your neighborhood to see if anything is rolling around.

Leave packed bags closed and secured while driving. You can pack a smaller and more accessible bag with road trip essentials like snacks, books, and games.

Know Your Kids’ Limits

Children seem like they’re full of boundless energy, but the truth is that they can’t hike the same distances. Heatstroke, exhaustion, and dehydration will instantly ruin a vacation.

Plan for shorter hikes and easier adventures when you’re traveling with kids. Take frequent breaks, and listen to what your kids are telling you. Younger kids might want to stay behind with one parent while the other parent takes older kids to climb that mountain.

Road trip safety requires preparation and awareness. Listen to your instincts when you’re away from home; if an activity doesn’t feel safe, find another way to enjoy the day.

Tim Esterdahl

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