Although we all want to relax and enjoy ourselves when we go on holiday, when we travel with our family we still wear our ‘protector’ hats, and our familial duties to keep everyone safe and secure remain a priority. We don’t want to put a dampener on your fortnight in the sun, but nobody should ignore the fact that the world is becoming increasingly dangerous, and there is no such thing as a guaranteed safe holiday destination anymore. So, we’ve compiled a list of our top tips to help keep you and your family safe; it’s not exhaustive, but hopefully it will inspire you.
Before you go
• Research-We’re not just talking about finding the best deal for your hotel here; when you are picking a holiday destination, check out the FCO website for the latest travel advice. When you have selected a favourite hotel, use the internet to find out more about the local area and local customs. Depending on their ages, this could be a good one to delegate to the children; get them to compile a report for you that they have to present at a family meeting.
• Get copying-Make sure you have photocopies of all your important travel documents. Carry a set separate from the originals, leave a copy with family or friends, and email scanned documents to yourself that you can access when abroad. Make a list of important telephone numbers; the UK Embassy, the local emergency services, next of kin, travel insurer, and ConsularAssist (if you have purchased our solution), and carry them with you at all times.
• Be prepared-Work out a few strategies before everyone is in the ‘manjana’ frame of mind. Have a plan of action for evacuating in the event of an incident. The plan won’t be location-specific, obviously, but can include things like: always check where the nearest exits are when entering a building, leave personal possessions behind, stick together whenever possible, never use the elevator. Talk to the children about who they should approach if they get lost, get them to find pictures of the local constabulary on the internet so they recognise the uniforms, and sort out some form of ID they can keep on their person at all times, with telephone numbers, hotel and tour operator details, etc.
• Make sure you have adequate travel insurance, and ConsularAssist in case you require consular support and assistance whilst away.
• When you have checked in to your hotel, make sure you are happy with the room’s security before you unpack and head for the pool. Check the door deadlocks properly (always use whenever in the room), and that the balcony is secure.
• In the event of a crisis, whether it is on a plane, in a hotel, by the pool, or out sightseeing, the chances of survival are greatly increased if you don’t panic. One way to lessen the chances, or extremes, of panic, is to practise how you would get away from the danger. Vital seconds wasted looking for the nearest exit, or finding that the stairwell is locked for maintenance, could make all the difference. We’re not suggesting you spend half of your holiday practising evacuations, but you can make a game of it by timing yourselves when you leave the hotel room to see if you can get out quicker each time, and having a quiz to see who has found the most exits in the restaurant before you order your meal. Taking notice of your surroundings and being prepared are good life skills to have, and if presented well, with some fun attached, even toddlers can get involved.
Throughout the stay
• Remain vigilant and report any suspicions to the authorities.
• Try not to stick out as a tourist, and you will reduce your chances of being a victim of crime. If possible, learn a few key phrases in the native language and use them when out and about. Buy a local paper and carry it around with you. Plan your route before leaving the hotel, so you don’t have to stand around reading a map, looking lost.
• Choose a landmark and make it your meeting place whenever you arrive somewhere. Ask the children regularly to make sure they have remembered where they need to go if you get separated.
• Check in with family to let them know that everything is okay. Don’t plaster your whereabouts all over social media, though; you don’t want to advertise that your home is empty!
It’s a tragic fact of life in today’s world, that there is no ‘safe place’ to take your holiday, and no gathering, event, pastime or location can be excluded from a ‘vulnerable’ list, but by taking sensible, unobtrusive steps, you and your family can still enjoy your break. Find out more about ConsularAssist and how we can support you following an incident here.