Readers and consult clients are forever asking me how to make sure kids are safe on the road. I don’t pretend to be a parenting expert but I am a travel with kids expert so I’d like to share with you some tips, devices and ideas for sensible child safety measures while travelling or during outings to crowded places.
This post is freshly updated for 2023 with the most popular and modern child safety devices we can find, plus our tips for keeping your toddler or small child safe in crowds or as you travel.
An anti-lost wrist link or toddler leash like the one above can be a very good idea in crowds or near roads and water. For the US, buy one here, if you are in Australia purchase one here, and for the UK get one here. All links to products on this page should work for any country.
There are all sorts of fears in the minds of anxious parents, what if kids get lost? How will they find us again in a foreign country? Could the kids be kidnapped or snatched? What if they get tummy bugs, malaria, sunstroke or ebola?
I can’t offer all the answers, but I can tell you that my kids, at 12 and 10, are still with me and absolutely fine after almost 50 countries, often spending months in each.
We take no extra precautions with our kids, but we do stay very vigilant and hold on tightly to them in crowds and around busy traffic or water just as we would at home. Simply holding hands is often enough but not if you have a wriggling bolter – as I did, or more kids than hands.
This is one of the reasons we always recommend backpacks over suitcases, your hands stay free to take care of your children.
A lot depends on the type of child you have, one of mine was super easy, the other would vanish in a flash. It’s not your parenting, it’s their personality and physical need to move.
Child Safety Wrist Straps & Devices
I Lost A Child in a Crowd
I’ve lost one child, once, at home in Australia in a Carnivale crowd. He vanished for a second and half an hour later we were reunited. It was a terrifying half an hour.
Why so long? Because a couple took him by the hand and tried to look for me, walking up and down. They broke our rule.
These days we can track our kids using GPS devices like the Apple Air Tag. If you have these devices bracelets like these are available. Buy one here.
OK, had he had some sort of toddler safety wrist strap, band or ID tag, it would have been over more quickly. Had he been attached to a child leash or child safety wrist strap it wouldn’t have happened.
But generally, I find our rule has been enough. Our rule is further down the page.
Toddler Restraints and Child Leashes
Child travel safety restraint devices come in many types and we itemise a few below If you have the type of child who just has to walk in crowds, maybe you’d feel better attaching said child to you using a wrist strap or harness. Below are a few examples. I did try a toddler harness on my very active bolter. These new wrist straps and kid leashes weren’t around back then.
Anti Lost Wrist Link 2 Pack
If you have more than one small child or toddler, 2 packs of wrist leashes are available and will save you money. This model has 2 devices, one with a short cord, one with a longer one for greater or reduced freedom to expore. That’s a smart idea and is a best-seller in the US. The Anti Lost Wrist Link Toddlers Safety Wrist Leash featuring a magnetic lock (much harder to wriggle free from) and reflective materials.
Child Safety Wrist Strap, Breathable, With Key Lock
This wrist leash is one of the cheapest on this page (under $10 US) and gets good reviews. It’s good that the key to unlock the child’s wrist strap is attached to the adults’ end so that you can’t lose it. Breathability is important too, a plastic strap will get uncomfortable and wet in hotter climates. It does come in blue too. Take a look at this product here.
Anti Lost Wrist Link
Buy a Blisstime Anti Lost Wrist Link Safety Wrist Link for Toddlers, Babies & Kids here.
Toddler Leash and Harness
This set is great because it gives you the choice of a harness or wrist strap, 2 for 1. Buy this Toddler Leash and Harness with shoulder straps here, these are more like the old-fashioned leather “reins” I wore as a child. They’re still around today. I have looked for leather reins to buy but found nothing, everything comes in modern nylon now.
Anti Lost Kid Leash
The Anti Lost Wrist Link, Zooawa Child Outdoor Safety Hook and Loop Wristband Kid Leash features a magnetic lock and some good padding around the wrists. Check this one out here. It’s suggested for children aged 2 years old to 4 and 5 year olds. For wrist links for older kids, this model is suggested for children over 4 years old.
Monkey Backpack Style Child Safety Harness
These Monkey 2 in 1 Child Safety Harnesses are cute and fun for boys and girls, it has a harness and a wrist strap for the supervising adult and the toy monkey doubles as a backpack. Buy one here.
Keeping Kids & Toddlers Safe – Have a Rule
Our rule is, if you get lost, stand still in the nearest safe place. Do not move an inch, mum or dad will find you. If you’re on a crowded road or train platform, move to the safest point, as far back from the train or cars as possible and stand still. If you’re in a shop, on a beach, anywhere, same rule. Stand in the nearest safe place.
Some parents insist on kids memorising addresses or mobile phone numbers. That’s pointless for us as I rarely carry a phone and we don’t have a fixed address, but it could work for you.
I did, once, slip a piece of paper in their pocket with our contact number and hotel address, but mostly I’m confident they will be fine.
On the whole, younger kids and toddlers, unable to follow the rule, aren’t likely to be on the ground in a crowd. We parents would carry them or have them safe in a buggy.
If you have a bolter you may even use a safety wrist strap, wrist band or harness.
I know a lot of people use products like those below for places like Disneyland, I believe Disney themselves will even sell you a wrist ID band. we’ve never needed one and my bolter started visiting Disney parks when he was 2 (and still loves them at 12!)
If, however, you still feel the need for extra safety measures, particularly for very small children or toddlers (and accidents do happen, think of that poor woman and the toddler/gorilla incident), somebody, somewhere, has made the child safety product for you. Have a look at what’s on the market above.
Toddler & Kid Travel Safety Tips
- Check over your accommodation for potential hazards, water, drops, climbable barriers, dodgy electrics, glass table tops, toxic plants, and choke hazards. Just do a mommy assessment. If there is a problem stay elsewhere or get the hazard fixed or removed.
- Always carry a photo of your child, it’s a good idea to take one of him in that day’s outfit. Make it a bright one.
- Take your own car seat if this will be of benefit.
- Pay attention to airline and cruise ship safety briefings. Special rules apply for small children.
- Delegate with your partner, one child to watch each, that way one child won’t slip under the parental radar.
- Never take your eyes off them for a second, unless they’re strapped down!
- Always carry, at the very least, safe drinking water and children’s paracetamol. A small medical kit would be better.
- Have good insurance for medical emergencies.
- Disinfect every surface with gel or wipes, keep little fingers clean.
- Keep them out of the sun.
- Teach them to yell at the top of their voices if a problem arises. Teach them what to yell and what constitutes a problem.
- Make sure they know the plan.
Child Safety Wrist Bands With Phone Number
There are a number of these on the market, some better than others, but there seem to be draw-backs with each one.
If I was to buy such a wrist band for a small child I’d want it to be:
- Impossible for the child to remove
- Impossible for the number to come off with water or sweat
- Secret, the information shouldn’t be visible to passers-by.
The products below are the best I can find, but don’t tick all the boxes although a small child would struggle to remove strong velcro.
The travel safety tattoos are a possible emergency alternative.
Child ID Wristbands
I used to be able to find a wristband that was free from potential allergens, was reusable, had the vital information on the inside and needed a two-handed grip to remove, perfect! Unfortunately it’s no longer available. The wrist bands below are the most popular. Buy them using this link or click the image.
Write-On Child Safety Tattoos
Who needs wrist bands! Just directly label your child with stick on safety “tattoos” Click the image to inspect or purchase here.
The manufacturors say that these can last on your child for up to 2 weeks and shouldn’t trigger allergies. A waterproof pen is included with the safety stickers.
Dynotag smart tags are smart ID tags you can use on your kids. These are particularly useful for medical information and can also be used on pets or posessions. Dynotag products come in a huge variety of styles and functions, see all Dynotag products here, the two below are just examples.
Should You Buy a Wrist Strap For Child Safety?
No hard sell here, I’m never going to say that a parent child safety wristband set is essential for every child, but if you have a child that runs unexpectedly, you’ll know you need one. I was raised on “reins” and one of my children needed them when he was small too. These child safety products may put your mind at rest.
But when you travel remember that there aren’t bad people on every corner once you leave your home country, in fact, in most of our home countries are more dangerous than the foreign ones.
The people we meet are good and kind and have children or grandchildren of their own. They watch out for other people’s kids and a noticeably foreign kid is easy to spot in a crowded market, many pairs of eyes will be on them and almost 100% of those eyes will look out for your kids or notice where they are. I did lose an older child once in Thailand, and every street vendor could tell me which way he went and they were happy to help.
I just wanted to say, relax, it’ll most likely be OK and pre-trip worries usually evaporate once you arrive in your destination and see what it’s really like. Thousands of people living safely and happily together, because whatever country you’re in, we’re all human. But if you’re very anxious about losing your child in a crowd, a child safety wrist strap could be just the thing.
So, guys, you may notice a few changes on the blog this week. A new look, new share buttons and a new way of navigating. The old drop down menus have gone and instead we have lovely new pages like this one on Places and Destinations and this one on Travelling with Kids. We all put our children’s safety first I’m sure and these child safety wrist straps and wristbands could put your mind at rest.
If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!
We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of travel insurance.
Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!
Tuesday 17th of August 2021
Hi, those tips are awesome and really helpful! By the way, considering transportation laws, lugging car seats can be a nightmare! Did you know that Kidmoto can solve that problem for you? Ditch the car seats when flying with a baby! A life-saver, I promise! :)
Friday 5th of July 2019
Hi, Does Child ID wristbands linked to an updateable online profile?
Saturday 6th of July 2019
Sorry, don't undertand. Is there a broken link ?
Thursday 13th of July 2017
After watching The Impossible about an Australian family that gets separated during the Thailand tsunami, and reading about the truck attack in Nice, I am concerned that if we get separated in a large crowd even well-meaning police would be hard pressed to get us back together. For this reason we all (parents and kids) wear dog tags with our Dynotag web address on it. 1) We can update our contact info on Dynotag.com as needed. 2) People call leaves notes on our page if they have found our lost loved-one. 3) The info is not easily spotted by would be crooks.
I do like the wrist band idea as well. I would put the Dynotag info on it so that we wouldn't have to update the bands when we changed locations or cell numbers.
Tuesday 14th of February 2017
My kids are a bit younger. I like to keep them in the stroller when in unfamiliar places. That way I know where they are. The fewer loose ends, the less risk of being robbed or any other misadventure.
Monday 13th of February 2017
Thank for sharing your experiences in the article. I love the idea to keep kids safe with Restraint Devices. Tommy Wang,