I think knowing how to get lost is a good life skill to master.
What I mean is that sooner or later – no matter how vigilant you are – everyone gets lost or separated and it’s important to teach kids not to panic and how to get un-lost.
To avoid the panic part, here is what we did. I hope you’ll forgive me if it’s the same obvious stuff all families do but when you travel it’s even more critical to remember:
- Be sure your child always wears some form of ID because you never know. Dogtags work well, boys especially think they’re cool and you can order them online before you travel.
- Know where the local emergency room is and always carry a small translating dictionary, so you can communicate with non-English speaking medics if necessary.
- If possible dress your kid in a distinctive bright color. It helps in big crowds.
- Also in big crowds – hold hands. I know, duh. But I’ll say it anyway. Plus it’s just nice to hold hands with your kid – you won’t be able to do it forever.
- Does your family have a secret whistle? Angus could not whistle when he was little but he made a little chirping sound instead that worked fine.
- We repeated every time we went out: if you ever lose us, go back to the last place you saw us and wait there. We will find you. And of course don’t go with strangers.
- On trains or buses, there’s another drill: if the door closes and we get separated, get off at the next stop and wait there. This happened to us in Rome when Angus was about eleven, taking the train into the city from the airport. He got into the car and the door closed before I could wrestle our luggage aboard. I remember the horrified look on his face as the train started to move out. I took the next train 20 minutes later – shaking with worry – but when I got off he was there waiting. “I just did what you always said Mom.” he said calmly, “I knew you would come.”
- Do you have anything to add? Please add your comments to this list!
If you have a plan to avoid panicking, you’ll be able to think more clearly and getting lost can (almost) be fun. It’s a puzzle really – a challenge to use a map and your observation skills to find your way back.
We liked this game to practice map skills: we’d go out to explore and when we were ready to return I’d give Angus the map and promise him his favorite treat if he could navigate us home.
They got to know us very well at the gelato shop.