The Easter holidays are almost here… have you booked a getaway? Perhaps you will be visiting friends and family?
5% more people are choosing “staycations” due to economic pressure on the pound and fears of terrorism in Europe and further afield. Certainly, recent airport security concerns, in-flight electronics bans, and recent events in London would indicate that any travel holds some risks.
We’re still convinced that the threat is not high enough to warrant staying home – rather, it means we and our families must just be prepared when we travel. There are of course risks besides terrorism that can be mitigated with good planning – natural catastrophes, injuries, or even getting lost in a strange place.
We have provided basic “what to do in an emergency” guidelines previously, but let’s look at family travel specifically.
Before you book a trip
Check news reports and weather predictions for your route and destination.
- Does your destination experience flooding or other adverse weather conditions at this time of year?
- Is there political instability that could cause issues?
- What is the current terrorism threat level according to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)?
- Has the FCO reported any other safety concerns?
- Is crime a significant problem?
Purchase appropriate travel insurance when you make your booking. Does it provide comprehensive cover for acts of terrorism – including disinclination to travel if there’s an act of terrorism before your scheduled departure?* Does it cover natural catastrophes? Does it offer sufficient cover for your personal possessions, gadgets and cameras
Chat to your family about safety a few days before you depart, and make sure they understand and remember the key points. There’s no need to make this scary – it’s a precaution but it can be so helpful in all sorts of situations – even getting lost!
Have a conversation rather than giving a lecture, as they’ll probably come up with some of these safety moves themselves. Ask questions such as “What do you think we should do if we can’t find each other at the airport?”
Some of the most important points to raise:
- Make sure everyone knows the name and address of your hotel, in case they get lost or separated. Forwarding a check-in confirmation to everyone’s mobiles/email is an easy way to do this.
- They should also have emergency numbers programmed into their mobile phones – and printed out too.
- Have a plan in case you’re separated – where would you find each other?
Heading to the nearest information point is the most logical option in a station or airport if there isn’t a safety alert, but it’s worth telling everyone so you don’t miss each other scouring entrances, exits, inside and outside areas.
While you’re out exploring, always set a meeting time and place, even if you plan to stay together. Plans change and this gives you flexibility too!
- Younger kids may not be able to remember detailed information, so the name of your hotel is a good start, as is your full name. Can they write these things if they’re asked?
- Print a copy of your travel insurance policy, or at least the basic details (emergency contact number, policy number, summary of cover) for each member of your party.
- Check in online so you can move through public areas faster.
- If you’re travelling with elderly family members who need assistance or are less mobile, arrange wheelchairs and other assistance well in advance.
It’s now also quite easy to find out which stations and modes of public transport are more accessible, and plan the quickest and easiest route to and through an airport.
- It’s also a good idea to make sure roaming is enabled or purchase a small amount of airtime/data for your mobile phones before you depart.
Safety For Everyone
- Stick together – Don’t wander off alone unless plans have been agreed with the whole group.
- Be wary of instant NBFs (new best friends) – This applies to kids and teenagers in particular. We’re not saying you shouldn’t make friends, but don’t look after their luggage or leave them to look after yours, and don’t go to a club/restaurant/other destination unless you know exactly where you’re going and can tell someone where you’ll be.
- If anyone does go out alone, they should set a time to check in with you (via text, etc.) and/or get back, and stick to it.
- This is not always easy with teenagers, but our best advice is to start by saying you want them to explore and have fun… chat about what they’re looking forward to, then follow it up with the rules. Be caring but firm.
- This shouldn’t fall on one family member alone – everyone must be aware of what’s going on around them.
- Even young children may notice unattended luggage or other suspicious parcels that adults miss while juggling suitcases, passports and tickets.
- Make sure kids know not to leave their own bags unattended.
- And please, don’t link culture to your chat about suspicious items.
In An Emergency
If there’s a dangerous situation such as an accident, fire, flood, terrorist attack (or if you think an attack is about to take place) get away from the area as quickly as possible.
- Even if it means the group will be separated, rather get away if it’s safe to do so
- You’ll find each other when it’s safe, because you have a plan, right? (see above).
- Obviously, make sure young children are with you if you have to get away from something, if at all possible.
- Get behind a solid structure for protection if you can.
- Don’t sit/stand where falling debris may hit you – this applies to explosions, earthquakes, etc.
If anyone is injured:
- Applying pressure to a wound helps to stop bleeding
- If there’s glass or other debris in a wound, don’t pull it out as it can cause more bleeding
- If someone is unconscious, check that they’re breathing and remove any potential choking hazards from their mouth. Turn them onto their side if it’s safe to do so.
- As we mentioned above, everyone should have contact details for ambulance and other emergency services in the city/town you’re visiting.
- You should also all have a copy of basic travel insurance details – policy number, policy summary, and the 24/7 emergency number provided on your policy wording.
- Knowing CPR is an excellent idea for everyone… why not do a course?
Be prepared, not scared
Even the basics can help you and your family to have a safer journey. Hopefully nothing will go wrong, but if you follow this advice and make sure you have the appropriate travel insurance, you’ll all have some extra skills and tools, which can’t hurt. You’ll also have greater peace of mind, and that’s a winner every time.
*Safe Journey is comprehensive terrorism travel insurance that covers a number of items, including disinclination to travel if there’s an act of terrorism within 40 miles of your booked route or destination, up to 6 weeks prior to your departure.
For full details of cover, as well as terms, conditions and exclusions, read our Policy Wording.