I am single and have no children but I have seen and heard of children getting lost on vacation and subsequently being terrified because they didn’t have any idea where they were or what they were supposed to do. Granted, I know being separated from family would be very scary for a child but that fear can be eased a bit if you have a plan in action if your child is lost on vacation.
Of course I am not talking about a toddler, they can barely speak. I am talking about an age appropriate child that would be able to handle the responsibility of what you are asking of him.
Here is what I will do when I travel with my 6 year old nephew.
1. Give him a backpack with the essential information he needs. A piece of paper with his name, the address of where we are staying, my cell phone number, his parents cell phone number, some change for a phone in the local currency, a few bills, a phone card, and a picture of me so if he ends up with a policeman/security guard (and I would make sure he knows not to leave with anyone except a policeman, even if the person seems nice) they will have an idea of who I am and what I look like.
2. Just in case he loses his backpack with all of this info, I will write on his arm (in black marker) my number so he can find a phone and call me. I would make sure that in his pockets he has a phone card wrapped in a few bills and some coins. This way, if he loses his backpack he can still be able to reach me on my phone.
3. Make sure he knows how to do all that I am asking of him. In order for this to work my nephew would have to know how to use the phone card, and how to use the pay phone. These are things that can be done before we get to our destination because I hardly want him to feel stressed about learning something new. Remember, learning something new takes time (especially something like a pay phone-if you can find one- so it would be wise to make sure your child knows how to use it and where one is where you are going).
So if we were going to a museum, before we started exploring, I would show him the spot he is to come back to if we get separated. If there is a pay phone in the vicinity, I would show him how to use it and make sure he understands. I would not scare him, but make it more of a game. “If we get separated, no need to panic. Just follow the steps and the first person to get to the safety zone first wins!” I think that if you empower children with the information they need, that imbues them with the desire to do what they are supposed to do.
Also, I would go though the steps that he would take so that he would know exactly what to do, and I would do this for every place we visit. Yes, this is going to take time but isn’t that what parenting is about, making sure that your child has all the tools he needs in order to succeed? I think that ensuring that your child knows exactly what to do can maybe take some of the fear out of being lost.
Do you have any plans set for your family? Have you had to use them?