We all know what happened to Kevin McAllister, right? He was left Home Alone, and then Lost in New York, when he got separated from his family at the airport.
The movie entertained us as kids, but now as parents, the thought of losing our beloved offspring amongst throngs of busy, stressed, and tired travellers, is enough to make our hearts skip a beat.
The trouble is, every parent knows that one of the worst parts of family holidays is the travel it takes to get there – and that especially goes for airport transits. It’s a pressure cooker that’s intensified during peak periods such as school holidays.
But we're here to help. We've compiled a list of the best practical tips to help you keep your kids safe so you can get to your holiday with your sanity intact:
1. Photograph everything.
Frazzled parents know that under stress it's sometimes hard to remember our kids' names - let alone what they are wearing. A quick airport selfie is a simple way to take the thinking out of it.
If your kids have their own phone/device (as many kids do these days), share the photo with them, too.
This idea can be used for boarding passes, and passports as well, so that if anything goes missing, you have the vital information 'backed up'.
2. Talk to them about the itinerary.
From the gate number, to the airline you're flying, give your child as much information as you can about your plans so they can repeat them if needed.
3. Check-in online.
Even if you still need to do a bag-drop, checking in online can mean one less queue that involves your child having to stand still - and thus be even more inclined to get restless, and tempted to run off.
Is it ok to fly business and leave your kids back in economy? We discuss, on our parenting podcast. Post continues after.
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4. Point out the safe people.
From airport staff, to the airline desk and security officers, make your kids aware of who the "good strangers" are.
5. Use the fast lane.
Airports often have lanes reserved especially for families (and/or fancy people flying business class). They are usually less congested. If you see one, ask if you can use it to speed up the time it takes until you're settled at your gate (or lounge, if you're one of the fancy people).
6. Keep it simple.
Jumpers tied around the waist, fiddly shoes, and even a soft toy they insist on carrying in their hands, can all slow down and hinder the journey from airport arrival to relaxing at the gate. Store all of those items in hand luggage until you're chillaxing with a mocha latte in your departure lounge.
7. Have 'the talk' - again.
Remind older kids of your safety routine. Tell them that if they get lost, they should look for 'a mum with kids.' That they should stand still and call out your name, rather than try to find you. And that they don't have to be polite to strangers if they're lost and uncomfortable - they are allowed to call out, or refuse to go with them.
Hopefully, these practical suggestions will help keep your family together during airport transits these school holidays. Because, as we all know, there is a real risk of danger to a child if they become separated from you at the airport. Just look at what happened to Kevin.
What are your tips for making sure your child doesn't get lost? Tell us in the comments section below.
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