Summer is a time for family holidays, but many parents who stress safety at home may not be as diligent when they're having fun on vacation. Security risks can result in a child getting lost at an amusement park to more serious cases like the ongoing story in Aruba, where Alabama teen Natalee Holloway disappeared while traveling with her high school classmates.
The most extreme cases are very rare, but Kevin Doyle, an editor at Conde Nast Traveler magazine, offers some advice for parents, and other adults, vacationing with children.
Protect your child's identity: Children often have a false sense of security when a stranger calls them by name, so try not to dress them in something that can give their identity away, such as a T-shirt or jewelry with their name on it.
Designate a meeting place: Before you go out, make sure to pick a spot for your kids to meet you if they get lost -- easily located landmarks, such as a Ferris wheel, are a good choice.
Carry current photo of child: In the event your child does get lost, having a current photo will help provide a physical description to authorities.
Staying at Hotels
Know how to call for help from your hotel: Most children know to dial 911 at home, but that may not work at a hotel, where you usually have to dial another number to get an outside line, or in a foreign country. Your best bet is to tell children to call the hotel operator in case of an emergency.
Teach your child the hotel name and address: Give your child a card from the hotel to show to a cab driver or another authority if they get lost.
Programs Just for Kids
Check on your access to your kids: Make sure you can drop by any time during the day to check on the kids and access all areas of the club.
Limit strangers' access: No unauthorized persons should be admitted.
Know where your kids will be: Children should only be released to the parent and never be allowed to leave on their own.
Give the child a pre-programmed cell phone: Parents can program a hotel number or their own cell phone number into the phone, so kids only have to press a single button if they get into trouble and not have to worry about language barriers.
Limit teens' freedom in foreign countries: Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean that supervision should be relaxed. Be sensitive to different cultures and make sure your children are too.