Planning safer travel

Why travelling away needs careful planning and supervision

Trips away can be a great experience for a child or young person, whether they are going away for the day, overnight, or travelling overseas. But being on a trip for sport or recreation means they can be away from their whānau and usual caregivers. The trip organisers and the adults supervising on the trip become responsible for them while they are in their care.

Research here in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas looked into the risks for tamariki and rangatahi attending sport and recreation events. This research found children and young people are most at risk from deliberate harm when they are travelling or going away overnight.

This means this sort of travel needs careful planning to ensure:

  • children and young people are kept safer while being transported, staying in accommodation and using facilities elsewhere

  • adults supervising during the trip feel adequately prepared, protected and informed 

  • parents and caregivers are fully informed and can feel confident that their children will be well looked after 

  • the trip goes smoothly and is enjoyable for everyone. 

Tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people) means anyone under 18 years old. Adults supervising the trip should be 18 years or over and with adequate maturity and capability to supervise the group.

More about background checks and training for staff and volunteers working with children and young people

Getting started

Decide on a lead person or group of people with oversight of the trip. They will be responsible for:

  • planning and following the child safe practices outlined below

  • communicating and distributing information to parents and caregivers

  • obtaining consent from parents and caregiver consent for their child or young person’s attendance

  • being the point of contact for parents and caregivers if there are any questions or concerns

  • making sure the travel is agreed and approved by the appropriate people in the club or organisation, if arranging travel on behalf of a club or organisation

  • following your club’s or organisation’s policies and procedures for arranging travel for tamariki and rangatahi.

What to consider at an early stage in the planning

  • Research and agree on the type of transport you’ll use and the type of accommodation, if needed.

  • Ensure that your club or organisation has up-to-date insurance cover for the activity, if applicable.

  • Finalise the travel and/or accommodation arrangements as early as possible so you can give the parents and caregivers details in advance.

  • if you’re attending a specific event, find out about the facilities you’ll be using while you’re away, for example, changing rooms.

Child safeguarding while travelling Planning and supervising overnight stays

Work out how many adults should join the trip

  • ‘Adults’ means the people over 18 years old who are responsible for the tamariki and rangatahi.

  • Make sure there will be enough adults to provide sufficient supervision for the ages of the children and young people on the trip, and factor in their maturity and experience. Use the table below to work out how many people you’ll need.       

  • Plan for covering breaks, and adults to step in if someone must leave to deal with an emergency or illness. 

  • For longer trips, if your staff, volunteers or members will be doing the driving, make sure there are enough drivers to allow regular breaks.

Make sure anyone who will be driving has a full driver’s licence.

Age (years)

Number of adults to children or young people

Under 8

1 to 4

8 to 12

1 to 8

Over 12

1 to 10

If there are any doubts about the safety or suitability of a person offering to travel or stay with children, it is okay to ask them not to attend.

Identifying and preventing grooming

Identifying child safeguarding risks and planning for them

Assess the risks and have plans in place to mitigate them.

  • Think about the risks for all of the activities needing supervision — for example, on the journey, during stops, and at venues or in accommodation.

  • Ensure the planned arrangements are suitable for the age and gender of the children and young people.

  • All adults supervising or driving tamariki and rangatahi must undergo police vetting and reference checks.

  • Check if the adults going on the trip have first-aid or specialist-care training. Include at least one adult with a current first aid qualification. Consider providing this training before the journey.

It is safer for everyone to avoid situations where an adult is alone with a child that is not theirs. To avoid this, you could: 

  • decide on a central drop-off and pick-up point so there isn’t one child alone at the beginning or end of a trip 

  • use vans and buses so the groups are larger

  • plan accommodation arrangements carefully. 

The sections below on this page provide more detailed guidance.

Checking and training people working or volunteering with children Giving rides to tamariki and rangatahi

Planning for emergencies

Plan and agree on what you’re going to do in an emergency. For clubs and organisations, this sort of planning could be documented as a procedure. 

Emergency planning should include: 

  • identifying the possible emergency situations that could arise — including injuries, illnesses, and situations where children could feel unsafe or uncomfortable 

  • making sure the adults supervising the trip know what to do if these emergencies occur, so that they are prepared to handle them 

  • collecting the emergency contact details for everyone attending the trip, including the adults supervising the trip

  • finding out the first-aid arrangements already in place for the event or activity

  • ensuring some or all of the adults on the trip have first aid training and providing training, if needed

  • before the trip, locating the local emergency medical services, hospitals and the police, saving their contact details, and providing them to everyone, including the children and young people

  • making sure there’s someone suitable who can stand in if one or more of the adults supervising the trip must leave to attend an emergency 

  • before the trip, collect medical information — such as medicines needed for everyone who is attending — and ensuring medicines brought on the trip are labelled clearly with the child’s name

  • if you’re travelling overseas, making sure you know the contact details of the nearest New Zealand embassy or consulate.

Find out the contact details for the nearest New Zealand embassy or consulate

Planning what to do if a child goes missing

However well prepared you are — and however well you have briefed the tamariki and/or young people travelling with you — sometimes someone may become missing. This could be as innocent as them becoming distracted and wandering off, or it could be more serious.   

Plan in advance for what you’ll do if you find that a child or young person is missing from your party. This should include:

  • remaining calm and reassuring any tamariki and rangatahi if they become or are distressed

  • loudly describe what the child is wearing and their description, so that people nearby can spot them

  • making sure there’s enough supervision for the group while you’re searching for the missing child or young person

  • searching the surrounding area immediately and asking for help from people nearby  

  • if you’re in a public building or venue, or staying in accommodation, telling their staff about the situation and asking for help to search for the missing child  

  • ensuring people involved in the search have a description of the child and what they are wearing  

  • if it’s possible to seal off exits and access CCTV footage, requesting this.  

If the search is unsuccessful:  

  • ring the police immediately, give them a description and keep searching  

  • inform the child’s parents, caregivers or whānau as soon as it is reasonably practical.  

After the travel, make sure you debrief with key club/organisation staff and other relevant individuals to establish what went wrong and how to avoid this situation in future. Review and update your club or organisation’s policy and procedure documents if this applies.  

Planning international travel

As well as following the general guidance on this web page, ensure that:

  • everyone in the party has a valid passport, travel insurance, and entry visas (if needed) well in advance of booking the travel

  • adults supervising the trip should have access to adequate funds to cover the trip and any emergencies, including foreign currency

  • for younger children, you could collect and hold passports and documentation just before the trip commences, to ensure these are not lost

  • you know the contact details of the nearest New Zealand embassy or consulate.

Find out the contact details for the nearest New Zealand embassy or consulate

It’s crucial to gain consent from the parents or caregivers to make sure they are satisfied with the arrangements. Ask for their written consent. If they do not give their consent, the child or young person should not be permitted to join the trip.

Informing the parents about the trip

Give parents and caregivers as much detail as possible in advance. Hold a trip meeting and/or give them something in writing. Tell them:

  • the reason for the journey (the event, competition or activity)

  • where you’re going, including venues, fields or locations you’ll be visiting, and a schedule of activities

  • who will be responsible for supervising the tamariki and rangatahi, and details about any vetting or training

  • drop-off and pick-up dates and times, the type of transport, the travel route, and any planned stops or side trips.

  • about the accommodation and proposed sleeping arrangements, if applicable, and give them the full address and contact details

  • about kit, clothing and/or equipment needed

  • if they’ll need to provide food or drinks for their tamariki or rangatahi, or if you’ll provide meals

  • if they’ll need to give their children or young people money for the trip (for example, for entry fees).

Ask if they have any questions. Make sure parents, caregivers and whānau are satisfied with all the arrangements and respond to any concerns.

Let them know who they can contact before, during and after the trip if they have questions or concerns. 

You cannot travel with a child or young person without consent from their parents or caregivers.

Ask for written consent from the parents or caregivers. You could ask them to sign a consent form that has the details.

As well as asking for their consent for the trip, you should also ask:

  • for their contact details

  • for the contact details of another family or whānau member, in case they aren’t available during an emergency

  • for their child’s medical, dietary, mobility and religious requirements

  • whether there are any concerns or anything else to be aware of (for example, fear of flying, sleepwalking, care and protection orders in place)

  • about approved medical treatment that can go ahead without their consent — such as taking painkillers, or treatment in an emergency 

  • them to complete any other consent forms, for example, photography or filming consent, if needed.

Ask the parents or caregivers to share and discuss the information about the trip with their children and young people.

Dealing with unexpected delays or cancellations

If the arrangements change significantly before you travel — for example, delays or cancellations to public transport or flights — let the parents or caregivers know and update them regularly. 

Discuss the trip with tamariki and rangatahi before they go

It’s a good idea to talk with children and young people about the upcoming trip: 

  • make sure they are comfortable with the transport arrangements and accommodation, if applicable

  • listen to them and address any concerns

  • make sure they understand their right to be safe, and what is and isn’t okay 

  • make sure the children and young people know who they can talk to if they have any concerns before, during or after the trip.

The club or organisation could organise a group discussion with the children and young people going on the trip. Reach an agreement on the standards of behaviour expected from them and the adults supervising the trip, especially if they are representing their sport, club, school or region. Talk about the consequences if the standards for behaviour aren’t met.

After the trip

It’s a good idea to review the trip once it’s completed and to think about if you could improve the planning differently next time. 

Ask about what went well. If there were issues, emergencies or unexpected events during the trip, and review these. 

Ask for feedback from: 

  • the children and young people that attended, including what helped them feel safe 

  • the adults supervising the trip

  • the trip planners

  • anyone else involved. 

Monitor social media sites after the event to make sure all photos and posts are appropriate. 


Policy templates

Having good policies in your club or organisation can help manage and address harmful behaviour.

We are developing new policy templates for sport and recreation clubs and organisations to use when they are developing their own policies. Keep a look out for the new policy templates when they are published here.

Sign up to our mailing list for updates

In the meantime, you can still download and use the child safeguarding policy templates from the Sport NZ website.

Transporting children and young people policy Billeting and overnight accommodation policy Media policy - photographing, filming and using images Code of conduct for people working of volunteering with children and young people View all child safeguarding policies and procedures on the Sport NZ website