We live in an age of heightened vigilance. Gone are the days when lunch foods were a few simple ingredients, kids were safe at play in our city's streets and family travel outside the comfort zone wasn't accompanied by advisories and warnings.

Realer risks

In fact, in light of recent terrorist attacks and a worldwide travel alert from the U.S. State Department, no one is to be blamed for thinking twice about stepping outside one's home, especially with kids in tow.

It doesn't seem to matter, though, that the statistical likelihood of being injured or killed in a terrorist attack is exceptionally low. Really, it's run-of-the-mill occurrences like routine accidents, illness and injuries that are much more likely to impact our lives—especially our travel—in a negative way.

With that in mind, and remembering our guiding belief that even in this time of travel anxiety families should hit the road in far greater numbers, here are some core family vacation safety considerations.

  • Stay informed: Check in advance with your doctor about your kids' health, dietary and immunization concerns for chosen destinations and activities. Bring medical or inoculation records with you. Also look up trustworthy local medical centers. Know and prepare (pack appropriate clothing and gear) for the weather, culture and politics. Take pictures of your kids every morning of your travels.

  • Stay alert: Always know where your children are, but prepare for unexpected, accidental separation. Every child should carry a secure emergency information sheet with contact numbers and other vital details. Also pre-check hotel rooms, kids' clubs, playgrounds etc. for appropriateness. Think twice about geo-tagged check-ins.

  • Stay practiced: Rehearse with your kids what they should do in case of problems and emergencies (not the same thing). Does everyone—kids and adults—know where to meet, the best people to seek help from, how to use phones (including passwords), find emergency documents, etc.?

  • Stay calm: Don't be Chicken Little. Trust kids' gut instincts, but make sure they know you need their practiced participation. Always be ready to improvise. A good first-aid kit and duct tape can work wonders.