Whether traveling with a child or friend, especially in large crowds, should one take precautions to avoid losing someone?

I will be backpacking, so packing light is important; however, I still thought it would might be necessary for me to get something like a walkie talkie. I have even considered using a strap/buckle and attaching it to the other person. This sounds ridiculous, but losing someone would ruin a great portion of the trip.

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    the strap/buckle would only be for an animal, I've seen it on children too, but I find that a bit disturbing personally. – EdmundYeung99 Jul 30 '13 at 11:16
  • Perform a headcount, and do it often. That way if you do lose someone you'll (hopefully) cut down the time before noticing. – Mark Allen Jul 30 '13 at 17:45
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    Straps/buckles depend on the kid. Some kids will stick with you. Others will head for the hills at each and every opportunity. – Mark Allen Jul 30 '13 at 17:45
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    @EdmundYeung99 looks disturbing to adults, maybe, but more comfortable for a small child than holding hands. Imagine how tired you would get having to walk everywhere with one hand held above your head. – Aant Jul 30 '13 at 21:52
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    There have been various comments about assigned meeting places--that assumes you can arrange them. I was lost for hours in the airport in Tokyo because someone shoved between me and my parents and knocked me onto an operating baggage carousel in the process--on my back and wearing a heavy backpack. By the time I got off that carousel I had no idea where we had been when we got separated and thus I couldn't return there. I have no good answers for what happened to me. – Loren Pechtel Aug 1 '13 at 18:20

With small children, the only thing you can do is keep your attention on them at all times (to prevent accidents as much as losing them). For older children or adults, nowadays the best way is for everyone to bring a cell phone (or buy a cheap prepaid one locally). And as a fallback, agree in advance on an easy-to-find place where you'll meet if you lose each other.

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    For the child i would add holding hands. – Th 00 mÄ s Jul 30 '13 at 13:50
  • When I was a small child and travelling with my parents, they would often tie a luggage label on to my clothing, with their names and local contact details, so that just in case I did wander off and get lost, any helpful adult would be able to reunite us. – PLL Oct 22 '13 at 20:39

In addition to the other answers, when I go with groups we always set a meeting point every time we go out to a new place. A landmark or an easy place to reach will be perfect meeting points. So if anyone is lost he/she directly will go there, the rest will go there as well in case some members are missing. For kids, always teach kids the name of the hotel, so if they got lost the police can deliver them there directly or at least contact the hotel.

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    Best have your contact information "on" the child so they can call you. – Th 00 mÄ s Jul 30 '13 at 13:52
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    @ThomasS on the child.. tattoo? :D – Nean Der Thal Jul 30 '13 at 13:55
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    At music festivals, it's popular to write a phone number on a child's arm in marker pen. – Rob Church Jul 30 '13 at 14:37

Another tip is to each one carry a map and to know how to back to hotel. In case of visiting places crowded with big chances to get lost, is important to combine before a point to meet. If it doesn't works, don't despair, at night you can find each one in hotel.

  • Or just give them a navigation device - then the kid has something to play with - and useful-y so. Perhaps it will even become the next great OSM mapper. – qmp Aug 1 '13 at 12:40

I've found a walkie talkie to be a very useful addition when hiking. However: This might not be the ideal solution if you're in a place where reception might be weak. I also don't think that a strap/buckle is a good idea, especiall in large crowds. You're going to annoy other people when they're getting cought in your "setup" or you might even hurt yourself. Bad idea.

No matter what you choose for staying in contact, you always should have a backup meeting point. It's not that hard remembering "If we get separated, we'll meet at XYZ at 17:00".

As a side note: I prefer not to enforce the "let's stay together" rule. In a crowded area this simply puts you under a lot of stress. You constantly check whether your party is still with you and forget enjoying the experience of just "being there". Give yourself some slack and arrange something kike "We'll try staying together but if you wanna take a look at X or get stopped by Y then we'll meet again in two hours at Z". A lot more enjoyable.

Of course this doesn't work that well with small children :)


I disagree with the other uses in a meeting place or a map. Those are great ideas but eventually you're going to forget. You're traveling, you're always in new places, seeing new things. I would suggest getting a 1990's brick phone and traveling with that. They last like 140 hours of battery life so that's normally not an issue. They are cheap, SIM cards are relatively cheap for a small pre paid one. That way you can get in contact with each other regardless of where you got separated. As the other people suggested, you should know where you're staying but cell phones are the best safety device in the world in my opinion.

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    Most of my travels are few days in each country, I do not want to buy a sim card everytime I go to a country! old fashion land mark tip always works. – Nean Der Thal Jul 30 '13 at 14:10
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    The analog networks on which those 1980s brick phones operated no longer exist. – Michael Hampton Jul 30 '13 at 15:53
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    Flip phones from a decade ago still lasted forever on a single charge. When new my 04 model had about a dozen days standby. Presumably the same is true of current feature phones. For that matter, if you can resist the urge to check/post status updates every 5 minutes or start up angry birds every time you have 5 spare seconds you'll discover that modern smartphones can last much longer between charges than you thought. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Jul 30 '13 at 21:16
  • @MichaelHampton, I was refering to the phones of the 1990's hence I referenced 1990's. Technically, you're right, but I assumed people wouldn't read that into it. As for buying a SIM Card everywhere, I still do it. I've never regretted it, a lot of places give you free incoming calls (Thailand for example) and so if your family or a friend you met at a hostel want to reach you, they can easily get a hold of. That convenience is well worth the <$10 you'll pay when you're spending over $1,000 on a trip. Granted that is just my opinion though. – Greg Jul 30 '13 at 21:37
  • My point was that brick phones were an artifact of the 1980s. By the 1990s they had become more reasonably sized. – Michael Hampton Jul 31 '13 at 2:46

Even in the age of mobiles there is always the possibility you will lose each other. The country may not have many cells (third world), the connection can be bad (silent zones) or the country uses another band / is prohibitively expensive. So what we need is a simple rule:

  • If someone get lost, wait a predetermined amount of time (I used 15 minutes) at the last position all people were together ! Both people do know then how long to wait and if there is a chance you will meet easily. But there is the possibility you cannot use the rule because you are traveling longer.

  • After that it depends what were you planning. If both parties are independent (each has money, papers, but perhaps not the hotel keys), you will meet at the hotel in 3 hour intervals (12:00, 15:00, 18.00...).

  • If a party is dependent on the other and the 15 minute time interval failed, both parties will march straight to the main railway station at the main entrance. If the location has no railway station (village), use the most conspicous object inside the village (which will be here in Europe mostly a church). At night time use the police station.


Although we had our share of disagreeing bystanders, we were quite happy with our buckles. When it comes to small children you should care less what bystanders.

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