Instructables

How to NEVER lose your kids in busy places like airports

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Picture of How to NEVER lose your kids in busy places like airports
Carabiner.jpg
My name is Angela, I am a New Zealander, married to an American, and we have three children, ages 3, 5 and 7. We travel to New Zealand a lot which for anyone who knows anything about what that entails, you can appreciate how long and complicated that can be - 3 kids, 12 hour flight from LA to Auckland, not to mention any connecting flights. International security, customs etc, it's a whole different ball game.
Last year I decided to take our kids home to New Zealand - on my own - the week after school got out, for a three week vacation. We had to fly from Colorado to California and then on to Auckland - and back again. It was hot summer here in the US, but cold rainy winter in New Zealand, so it meant a lot of packing and a lot of luggage. I have travelled through LAX so many times to know you don't mess around without being in control of yourself, your family, your luggage and your destination. I knew I could control everything but keeping track of kids while checking in at counters, or at baggage claim, or on curbsides - we all know how they can wander. So I needed something to help me....then I had an idea.

I went to Home Ddepot and bought three carabina bungy cords for less than $5each. They are thick, hard elasticated bungy cords which measure about 4-5 feet in length and have carabinas on both ends. I clipped the one end to the child - on a belt loop (when planning their clothes for the day I had especially chosen clothes with belt loops), and the other end either to myself if we didn't have a cart - like after you have gone through airport security, or to the cart if I was pushing luggage. It meant the kids were able to walk freely but not far away from me, and no one got lost. Of course we had a few funny moments when lamp posts came our way, but we quickly figured it out.

On our maiden walk with the cords attached I was stopped 7 times by parents asking me where I got them, and complimenting me on what a great idea. That was just the beginning. Airline crew told me it was one of the best ideas they had seen, as all too often kids get away from the parents and the parent has to make chase leaving an unattended handbag or luggage or other child. I didn't use them like a leash - so when we were seated waiting at places I just clipped them off - and I made it very clear to the kids that only I clipped them on and off, that it wasn't a toy and why it was important - using the movie Home Alone 1 helped drum that message home, how busy airports can be and how quickly and unintentially you can get separated.

I was allowed to take them onboard in my carry on luggage and they bundle up so small it wasn't an issue at all.  On a different trip I did, domestically, I actually put them in the front zipper of my checked bag and after claiming it at baggage claim I whipped them out.  Either way worked perfectly find.  They don't breach security at all.

I hope you have as much luck as we did. I have travel planned this summer and plan on using them again, and also for another trip to New Zealand later in the year. For less than $15 I knew I wasn't going to lose my kids or find myself in a compromising position, true peace of mind.

The photo attached is taken at Auckland airport in the parking/loading area outside and a little dark to see, but you can sort of make out the cords that I have in my hand after attaching them to each of the kids and to the cart.
I have also attached a photo from the Home Depot website of the item.

This is the link to the Home Depot site showing what I purchased.
http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-100185918/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053

This is the product description incase the link fails
The Keeper 48 in. Carabiner-Style Bungee Cord features an aluminum carabiner hook that locks and secures onto any anchor system. The carabiner hook is stronger than a conventional hook. The super-duty bungee is exceptionally strong.

Ideal for heavy-duty securing
Super-duty bungee is stronger than conventional cords
Carabiner-style, aluminum hook locks and secures onto any anchor point
Spring-gate design makes it easy to quickly secure the bungee
MFG Brand Name : Keeper
MFG Model # : 06158
MFG Part # : 06158

mary.parry1 year ago
Great idea. For those who don't like the idea of tethering here's a cautionary tale. My sister was travelling with two small children and when she stopped to get her passport out, the 2 year old ran away. Security stopped her from following, and made no attempt to help. You can imagine her distress as she waited in line to check through and retrieve her child! Luckily all ended well.
NytraM1 year ago
fantastic idea, kids are safe, parents calm, airport dealt with creating minimum stress, job done
kriemer1 year ago
Speaking as the now grown (very old) kid who used to wander and get lost a lot, and much to my wife's consternation still does, I think this is incredibly liberating for the kids as they are not being held by their hand or constantly being herded like cats (both useless and exhausting). As well this has absolutely nothing to do with worrying about pedophiles, kidnappers or other ne're-do-wells; this has to do with simple facility when traveling with 3 kids in an airport or other crowded space using a minimum or energy and providing a maximum of kid freedom.

The dog analogy is lost on me, good on you.
ilpug1 year ago
Against all logic, I still dislike the idea of this. I know it works and helps keep kids safe, but it seems wrong somehow.
Yeah, I know what you mean. It kinda reminds me of walking the dog. XD
Exactly.
diy_bloke1 year ago
as some people have referring to dogs: why would you make an effort against losing your dog and not against losing your children.
We keep toddlers in pens and i have not seen anynody object because ' it reminds them of prison' Anyway, we are all entitled to our opinion and i really dont see a problem with this. As long as yr kids are safe it is ok
techboy4111 year ago
nice
DarkStarPDX3 years ago
Gotta love it, leashing children for their safety... Gotta wonder though how we ever made it without child-leashes...
piiglet (author)  DarkStarPDX3 years ago
I agree, bring back the days when parents didn't have to worry as furiously about kid-nappers (literally), pedophiles, nut jobs and all the rest. I long for knowing that your kids could walk around a couple of blocks without gps trackers and alarm whistles (not that we use either, but the fact that they are on the market is enough said about society in some places).
I guess it's just a matter of making the choice of if you feel that it matters enough to keep your kids close in busy chaotic places this is a great, harmless, unintrusive way to do it. If it doesn't concern you, then you need not purchase the product :-)

Thanks for your comments.
(Thanks to modern "tabloid" media, many people are unaware that rates of child kidnapping, peadophilia, abuse etc have remained steady for some forty-plus years - unlike gun crime, and crimes related to drug and alcohol consumption.)
The phrase "tied to your mother's apron strings" comes from back in the days where the farm wife would hitch her toddler to an apron string (tie) to keep the child from wandering off while she did her farm chores.
Some kids didn't make it...........that should say it all.
This really is a great idea for making sure your kids don't wander off in a crowded area or when you can't keep both eyes on them at all times like at the airport. However, I've seen far too many people use child leashes as a license to pay little to no attention to their children. The worst I have ever seen was on the streets of Las Vegas at 1:17 am, where drones of drunk "adults" were being led back to their hotels by children pulling them by their own leashes. These things should never serve as a substitute for actual parenting.
They even make harnesses in the shape of backpacks. My son had a backpack shaped like a monkey. The tail was about a 6ft leash.

If you've ever tried to keep track of a curious 3-5 year old, you'd understand. Blink and they are gone.

It's a scary world out there people are sick.

I was in a Truck stop a couple months ago. We were on a family vacation road trip. My son, now five, was standing right next to me in line at the checkout. I fumbled around for my wallet and he was gone. My wife came out of the restroom. There was an older dude (60ish) an isle over giving my son a sand dollar. Luckily I didn't see it. I would have put his lights out.
piiglet (author)  mr.incredible3 years ago
Yes I have seen those harnesses also, however, with my son being 7 there is no way I could ever get him to wear one of those. Plus, my method leaves you hands free which is really important.

I think it's important to note to people saying these are leashes, to me - I think of a leash as a thing used to prevent someone from going somewhere or doing something they aren't allowed to do/go. These cords are intended to give the kids the feeling of security, as well as me. The speed of wandering cannot be over-emphasised, especially when we're talking shorter, smaller, slower people. They get swallowed by crowds.

Thanks for your comments :-)
Totally agree! My son was clipped to my belt loop for outings and trekking in the forest when he was young. I never used it for punishment or yanked on it to change direction. He was very active, impulsive, curious, and in the upper 95% for size and strength. He also did not want to hold a hand since that was for "babies" and had his hands full of toys, sticks, pebble, leaves, etc anyway. His leash kept him from getting lost off of hiking trails, from leaping from a 100 foot cliff at the age of 2 (he was pretty ticked off about that), definitely from getting run over at least once, out of an animal pen at the zoo, and kept trips to the fair pleasant and relaxed. I vividly recall being dragged through a very busy farmer's market by him when he spotted a fire truck. We would have been extremely limited on where we went had I not roped us together. I got some dirty looks, but I also got some "good for you - I was a leash kid & turned out fine" comments.
piiglet (author)  CatTrampoline3 years ago
Thank you for sharing CatTrampoline, it's great to hear the long term effect isn't damaging ;-) LOL What wonderful opportunities you gave your son, and how fabulous that he is still as vivacious. Thank you for sharing and supporting :-)
I never thought of a leash as being used to prevent kids from going or doing something they aren't allowed to do - I always thought of them as a safety measuer to ensure that they stayed near me & didn't wonder away & get lost, or even worse,to be sure they weren't taken! I think this is a fantastic idea you have & I will probably go buy some of these for my daughter to use on my 3yr old twin grandsons when they go to the fair, since the boys are getting big enough to want to walk around!

I used child leashes on all 4 of my kids, who are now 28,25,16 & 13. I was the 1st one in my town to use one 27 years ago & got a lot of comments - some pretty bad ones. I always told the true story of how I had bought the leash at the State Fair & that very same day they had a lock-down emergency at the fair when a man ran past a family & grabbed their young child as he passed. He made it from the center of a city-block sized area, all the way to the exit gate before he was stopped!

I never, ever used a child leash as punishment. I think they had more freedom with it because otherwise they would have spent more time in a stroller so they wouldn't wonder away or get lost in a crowd. Also, when you have more than 1 small child, it is much easier for one of them to break free from you to run see something & a lot harder to catch them because you still have the other(s). I didn't have the leash on my son one time walking down a sidewalk & he saw something across the street that he wanted to see, he pulled loose & ran out in the street. I was left with the decision to chase him & leave my daughter standing there by herself! And I've traveled in airports with small children-they can be nightmares! I think you had a very good idea & you have peace of mind that your kids are safe. Youwill probably get a lot of negative comments - ignore them, you'll never have to ask yoursel "what if" !
A footnote to my post above: My son is now 19, very independent and adventurous, and grew up loving the outdoors from all of the dayhikes and camping. He resents that I made him do his math homework, but not that he was required to take the long path from the top of the cliff to the sea.
my parents used to use something like this with my brothers and me, we thought it was great fun! I just hope my kids are better behaved than we were...
cogni3 years ago
Great idea. Your invention is somewhat like the system that mountain climbers use to keep together and keep safe. It is not a leash, as a leash is a restraining device. The cords here are not pulled on, and the children are not pulled back nor trying to get away.
I would use the mountain climbers' analogy to the kids and the system will be an integral part of the travel adventure.
We have no kids but go to New Zealand a lot and have a house there. NZ is a more child-friendly place than the U.S.; it think it must have been nice to grow up a Kiwi.
--American married to a Brit
piiglet (author)  cogni3 years ago
Thanks yes, you hit the nail on the head, that's what I was trying to say to other commenters, you don't yank on it or restrain, it's to stay together and safe.
Glad to hear you like New Zealand and have a house there, how lovely. Be sure and vote for me tomorrow, I am entering a competition on this site to hopefully win the kids a flight home to see Grandma and Grandpa :-)
Cheers
negroperez3 years ago
Hey nice idea, my son got lost for 3 seconds on a crowded xmas sale, i'll never get that monkey backpack off him again.

gotta love those leash like divices as splazem said
gdonnelly13 years ago
Go you! Just not worth losing them for a minute. Way to go Kiwis : )
piiglet (author)  gdonnelly13 years ago
Thanks so much :-)