Keeping kids safe on holidays

Following some basic steps can keep your family safe on holiday and help you to enjoy some rest and relaxation.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 20 September 2022  | 4 mins read

key points

  • Do your research to find out all about your destination and any travel requirements before you go
  • Safety check your room when you arrive and set ground rules for when you’re at the pool or out and about to keep your kids safe
  • Avoid heat exhaustion and sunburn by keeping children out of the sun between 11am-3pm and always use high SPF sunscreen
  • Buy family travel insurance so you’ll be covered for emergencies and unexpected events while you’re away

Keeping children safe while you’re abroad

Going away on holiday can be a fantastic opportunity for your children to experience different countries and cultures.

But taking kids abroad can also be daunting, when you’re dealing with busy airports, crowded places and unfamiliar areas.

So, whether you’re flying, going to a theme park resort, or staying in a hotel, read our tips to help you reduce the risks and focus on enjoying some safe family fun.

Top tips for keeping your family safe on holiday

1. Do your research

Find out as much as you can about where you’re going to make sure it’s the right type of holiday for your family.

Read reviews and research the area because not all destinations or activities are suitable for every child or every age.

Check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office travel advice, information on entry requirements, and travel updates.

You can also use the TravelHealthPro website to find out about current health risks at your destination, including advice on any vaccinations you might need before you travel.

2. Don’t let your guard down

The pure excitement of arriving on your first day can help to put all your worries and stress behind you.

But according to the Child Accident Prevention Trust, many incidents happen on the first and last day of family holidays.

It’s easy to get distracted when you’re packing and unpacking, and trying to manage various bags, buggies and suitcases - so remember to always keep an eye on your kids to avoid any mishaps.

3. Make your room safe

When you arrive at your accommodation, the first thing you need to do is a safety check - inspect all window and door locks, and the safety of any equipment provided like highchairs.

Move all balcony furniture away from the external wall or railings and check for any gaps that children could squeeze through. You can find more tips on balcony safety from ABTA.

Always check that patio doors are locked and secure before you go to sleep. And keep any medicines and potentially harmful liquids well out of children’s reach.

4. Check babysitting services

Many hotels and resorts offer babysitting services and kids’ clubs, but it’s best to check whether you’ll be getting a good standard of childcare that’s registered.

Contact your tour operator beforehand to find out the details, including staff qualifications, police checks, and the health, safety and hygiene standards of creche facilities.

If you’re using one of the main UK travel operators, the childcare staff should have the same training and background as in the UK, but doing your research will give you extra peace of mind.

5. Set pool ground rules

There’s nothing like having some fun in the water on holiday. But pools can be irresistible to children, which also makes them a real danger.

Set some basic pool boundaries for your children on your first day, like never going in without your permission, sticking to the shallow end and staying close to your sun lounger when they’re out of the water.

Even if your pool has a lifeguard, it pays to be vigilant. Take turns being on ‘duty’, so there’s always a parent or known adult supervising and stay within once pace of them in the water.

6. Stay sun safe

Children’s skin is more sensitive than adults’, so use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher (preferably SPF50+). Sun hats and sun suits for kids with UV protection are also a good idea.

Keep babies and children out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day, typically between 11am and 3pm. And don’t be deceived by cloudy weather - children can still burn (as can you).

Put sunscreen on your kids every two hours and always reapply it after they’ve been in water, even if you’re using a water-resistant sunscreen.

7. Take water everywhere

Children can get dehydrated and suffer from heat exhaustion very quickly when it’s hot, so always take a bottle of water with you and get everyone to have sips regularly.

If your child is very thirsty, feeling sick or has a headache, it’s likely they’re dehydrated. Move them to a cool, shaded place and keep giving them water. But avoid fizzy drinks and fruit juice.

They may need an oral rehydration solution which you can usually buy from a local pharmacy - they’ll be able to recommend one for your child.

8. Plan for children getting lost

When travelling with children, it’s best to expect the unexpected. Being prepared can make all the difference, so make sure your children know what to do if they get lost.

Explain that they should find a safe person, like a member of staff, a police officer or a parent they see with children.

Point out a safe spot where you’ll meet them if your child loses you. Consider putting your name and contact number somewhere on them, like in their shoe or on an ID bracelet.

9. Look after your family’s health

It’s not uncommon for children to fall ill, and holidays are no exception. Anything from travel sickness to catching a cold on the plane could affect them.

Being prepared by packing some of the basic medicines you may need, along with a travel first-aid kit, means you can quickly start to help them feel better.

You should also apply for a Global Health Insurance Card for each family member - this will allow you to access free or discounted state medical treatment when you’re in the European Union.

10. Keep safe after dark

Bedtime routines are often more flexible on holiday and many destinations are relaxed about children being out with their family in the evening.

When you’re out at night, it’s a good idea to take turns to be the designated childminder so that one of you is always fully alert and has eyes on the children.

Packing a torch and glow necklaces the kids can wear or attach to your pushchair can help improve visibility if you’ll be walking about after dark.

What travel insurance do I need for my family?

Emergency treatment and medical bills can be expensive, so one of the most important ways to protect your family when you’re travelling is to take out travel insurance.

Family travel insurance is designed to cover your family under one policy and is usually cheaper than taking out individual cover.

A family policy will typically cover up to two adults and between one to eight children, and will also cover stepchildren, foster children and adopted children.

For maximum protection, take out cover as soon as possible after booking your trip.

What types of family travel insurance policies are there?

Depending on the number of holidays you’re planning, you can choose between taking out single-trip cover or an annual policy.

If you’re only planning on having one family holiday in a year, a single-trip policy is best - you’ll pay for the number of days you’re away and cover ends when you come home.

An annual or multi-trip travel insurance policy will give you 12 months of cover and can save you money if you’re planning on having two or more family trips in a year.

When you buy family travel insurance, you’ll also need to consider which countries you’re planning to visit. You can choose policies for European, worldwide (including or excluding the USA, Canada and the Caribbean) or UK cover.

What does family travel insurance cover?

A family travel insurance policy is designed to give you financial protection for unexpected events that might affect your trip.

This includes cover for emergency medical costs if you or your children become ill while you’re away.

It can also cover your holiday being cancelled, delayed or cut short, and things like your luggage or possessions being lost, stolen or damaged.

There’s a whole range of policies and extras to help you get the right cover for your family travel needs, giving you peace of mind that you’ll be protected if things don’t go to plan