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Family vacations should be all about the fun. The last thing anyone wants is to fall victim to crime while traveling. Yet, with so many people coming and going, airports are a prime spot for criminals. Don’t let the bad guys spoil your family trip! Here are 9 simple safety tips for airports that you need to know the next time you travel to keep your clan safe and sound. The things mentioned in this article are not meant to scare you, but this is the reality of the world we live in today.
Tip #1: Don’t take the lead.
One of the most dangerous things you can do in a crowded place like an airport is to walk in front of your child. If you can’t see them, you don’t know that they are there. If your little one is walking behind you and stops for some reason, you won’t know it. And by the time you look back, there could be a few hundred people between you and them. It only takes a split second for a child to get lost in the crowd or, even worse, for someone to kidnap them.
Instead of leading, walk next to your child while moving through the airport. This way, you can keep your eye on them at all times. And in the event they stop, you will know it instantly.
Tip #2: Watch your stuff.
In public places, thieves are everywhere. They are just waiting for an opportunity to take your stuff. The best way to prevent having your stuff stolen is to watch it closely while in the airport. Don’t walk away from your bags. Don’t turn your back on them either. Criminals don’t need long to help themselves to your things. So, you have to be vigilant. Keep your items close by and your eyes on them.
Tip #3: Divide and conquer?
Should you divide and conquer while in the airport? That depends. If you are traveling with at least one other adult, or have an older teen, divide and conquer is a great method to maximize your time. One adult can sit at the gate with the bags and kids while the other goes to get food or take a bathroom break. If, however, you are the only adult in your traveling party, I would recommend not using this approach. Instead, it is safer to keep everyone together. Please don’t leave kids, even 12-14 year olds, unattended in a crowded airport. It doesn’t take much for a predator to overpower a young teenager. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your kids.
Tip #4: Use family bathrooms.
One of the greatest inventions ever is family bathrooms. These are popping up in more and more public places. Many airports these days have them. They are large single bathrooms intended for families with young kids. Family bathrooms have enough space for you to take your kids into the bathroom with you without having to worry about being in different stalls or having strangers in the bathroom with you. They include a changing table inside as well.
If you have kids under the age of 10 who are a different gender than you, please use the family bathrooms in airports! These are much safer than sending your child into the regular bathroom by themselves. While your 9-year-old son may complain about you going to the bathroom with him, you will feel much better knowing that a child molester isn’t in the stall next to him while you stand outside.
Tip #5: Keep valuables packed.
When thieves are scoping out a crowd for their next victim, they look for two things: easy targets and valuables. So, to protect against becoming a victim keep your valuables packed away while in the airport. Now, I realize that your kids will want to be on tablets and phones while waiting, and that’s ok. But, it’s best to leave all unneeded valuables packed away and out of sight. Don’t wear your best jewelry while flying. Don’t carry cash around in your hand. Leave your nice camera in the bag. Put your passports up as soon as you are done with them. The more you keep your valuables packed away, the more likely you will still have them when you reach your final destination.
Tip #6: Give yourself plenty of time.
When we are in a rush, we tend to get careless. This is usually when we forget things and let our guard down. To counteract this, give yourself plenty of time. Get to the airport a little earlier than you think you actually need. Walk to your gate as soon as you clear security so you know how far away it is. Remember that your flight will start to board approximately 30 minutes prior to takeoff. Plan on a sit down restaurant taking at least an hour and a half. Giving yourself plenty of time will prevent you from leaving your credit card behind or dropping your wallet or forgetting your carryon bag.
Tip #7: Count your bags and people.
I know it sounds silly. But, a simple way to keep track of your stuff and kids is to count them. Before you leave home, count all your bags (including purses) and your people. Remember these numbers. Each time you move from one place to another, do a quick count to make sure you haven’t forgotten a person or bag. Once you load the car, count the people and bags to make sure you have everything. When you unload at the airport, count again. After checking in, do a quick count. Go through security and count again. Get to the gate and do another count. This will help you keep track of everything and everyone.
Tip #8: Listen to your instincts.
One of the most powerful tools you have to protect yourself and your family is your gut instincts. As you go about your travels, if you feel uneasy about a situation, there may be a reason for it. If the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, pay attention. Trust your instincts and remove your family from an area if it doesn’t feel right.
Tip #9: See something, say something.
These days, law enforcement officers are always on the news telling you that if you see something, say something. Remembering this simple phrase is one of the greatest safety tips for airports and other public places. If something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. Many people, these days though, are either too busy to pay attention to their surroundings or are too scared of being wrong to say something. But, safety is one of those situations where it’s better to be safe than sorry. Telling a police officer or security guard about something suspicious just means that someone will check it out. So, if it turns out you were wrong, no big deal. If it turns out you were right, however, saying something may save lives.
So, pay attention as you walk through the airport. If you see something that doesn’t look right, say something to the nearest officer or security personnel.
Falling victim to crime while traveling is the fastest way to ruin a vacation. But, with these simple safety tips for airports, you can rest assured that this portion of your trip will be safer for your entire family. Want more tips on flying with kids? Read my common mistakes to avoid when flying with toddlers, best and worst snacks for airplanes, how to prepare kids for long flights, and tips for flying with kids. Have a safety tip that I forgot? Leave a comment and share it with other readers. Happy (and safe) travels!