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Jul 19, 2018

How to Prepare Your Family for Summer Travel Season

Exploring destinations with your family is one of life’s true pleasures. But it’s important to keep these factors in mind to ensure everyone’s safety.

I just returned from holiday across the pond. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit five destinations along the way. We took planes to cover the large distances, ferries to cover the medium distances, sailboats to enjoy the Mediterranean sunsets, cars to get us to where we needed to be and explored more by foot. There were no trains or helicopters on this journey, but will surely be in the future.

While various modes of transportation provide us the ability to see parts of the world our ancestors had only read about or dreamed of, such travels are not without risks. It is all too easy to simply open an app, book your travel arrangements (or have someone do it on your behalf) and be on your way. But before heading out on any journey, there are a few things you (and your family and associates) should be aware of.

Growing up in one country may lead you to have assumptions about other countries.

Every child of preschool age in the United States knows that if you need emergency services (think fire, ambulance, police), you simply call 911. But if you travel to another country and you need emergency services, dialing 911 will get you nothing but a wrong number message in a non-English language. As an example, in France if you need emergency services, you dial 112. Access to healthcare as a visitor to a country varies greatly from place to place. Some countries don’t have adequate healthcare systems. Do some research before you go so you understand what is and is not available to you. If you haven’t done so yet, consider purchasing global medical insurance with emergency evacuation coverage. No one plans to get sick, but if you are travelling and it happens, you will feel better knowing you can get the help you and your loved ones may need.

Vacations, no doubt, are adventures but consider carefully how adventurous you get.

Many tropical destinations, such as in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, offer holiday locations that at first glance seem to beg you to rent a scooter or ATV (as do the rental companies). But fight the urge. There are additional precautions (and training) that should be taken anytime you ride a motorcycle, scooter or ATV. The flimsy helmets most rental agencies provide don’t offer adequate protection. If you’re someone who rides a motorcycle, you understand what it takes to properly control such a vehicle. A vacation should not be your first experience for motorcycling or driving an ATV. If you read enough traveler experiences you will find story after story of people being seriously injured or killed on these vehicles while being on holiday.

You won’t find this published anywhere, but in conversation with a local driver who lives on the island of Mykonos year-round, I learned that in the five-month tourist season last year, there were approximately 500 accidents and 90 deaths related to tourists on rented scooters, motorcycles and ATVs on the island. While those statistics are striking enough, here’s more: Those accidents and deaths were mostly single vehicle accidents and deaths, meaning no one hit them.

While travelling, staying connected to your phone should not be your first priority.

That phone you love (or have a love-hate relationship with), doesn’t care about you. Really it doesn’t. You need to take care of yourself. When you are visiting places for the first, second or perhaps third time, you need to stay alert. Checking the status of social media or reading personal and work-related communications can wait until you are in a safer location than having your head focused on your phone while meandering the streets of an ancient city or a modern metropolis. Beyond your physical safety, keep your financial safety in mind by keeping an eye out for pickpockets. Pickpockets typically work in teams, and those teams can be made up of women with infants, children and adults.

While this was not meant to be an all-inclusive discussion on travel safety, I will leave you with one of the most important tips: If you are traveling with others, don’t let anyone go off by themselves. Stay together and stay alive. If you are planning a solo adventure, make sure someone knows your whereabouts at all times and what to do if they don’t hear from you after a designated amount of time. Be safe and explore our magnificent world.

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