Family vacations can be a lot of fun but at some point, your teenager will be presented with opportunities to travel without mom and dad. It may be organized by their school, sports team, or another organization, but eventually, it’s going to come up.
Coming to terms with the fact that they are growing up and want their independence is the first thing you’ll have to deal with. Then you need to do everything you can to make sure they will be safe and have everything they are going to need for their trip.
1. Preparing for your teenagers first parent-free trip
First, don’t freak out. It’s just part of growing up and everybody has to go through it. You may get into a little tug-of-war over the details but if everyone remains calm and reasonable you will work it out.
2. Get organized and acquainted
It is common for organized youth travel to be thoroughly planned long in advance. Before the trip, packing lists will be issued, paperwork will have to be filled out and pre-payments collected. There may even be local meet-ups so the participants can become acquainted before their trip.
While planning, there are several key points you should consider for your own peace of mind. These include money, safety, communication and packing the right clothes and other items that may be needed, such as medications.
3. What needs to be packed?
Know what activities your teen will participate in and how the weather will be at the destination. Make sure they have two pairs of shoes if a lot of walking is involved. Pack any special clothing that might be needed for special events or activities like swimming, skiing or occasions that require formal clothing.
Your teen will undoubtedly bring along electronics. Will they need adapters to plug those devices in foreign outlets? Wet wipes, insect repellent and flashlights may be useful to pack when travelling to remote or tropical destinations.
It is likely that you will receive a packing list based on their itinerary if they are going with a group. Find out if there are laundry facilities in their destination, and if the local currency is needed for the laundromat.
4. How can your child stay safe?
Your teen will mature through travel, but you must still talk to them about personal safety before they leave. You should cover what to do if they become separated from their group, how to discreetly use an ATM, how to keep their documents and money safe, and how they should deal with seeing someone they don’t recognize, especially if they trigger mistrust.
5. Make sure the destination is safe
Many destinations have closed their borders as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite some countries allowing foreigners access, you should still ensure the destination is safe for your teen. In addition to the pandemic at the moment, do some research about the crime rates, traffic safety, as well as the local attitudes toward foreigners.
6. Ensure that they stay healthy
Preparation is peace of mind when it comes to medical issues your child may encounter.
Make sure that before you let them go on their first solo trip, you check all the health care options they might require in case of an emergency. Prepare a small card with key information about their health history and give it to them as a keepsake. Details such as emergency contact information, health insurance account numbers, chronic illnesses and surgeries, current medicine routine (dosage, frequency, allergies), and all current medications should be included.
You should also prepare an emergency kit consisting of pain-relieving medications, cold medicines, bandages and antihistamine cream. Be sure to pack their EpiPen as well if the teenager has allergies.
The basics of first aid can be useful to anyone, but it is especially important for teenagers travelling overseas. The chances are that they won’t need to use the CPR skills they learn, but make sure they know about how to care for a wound. It takes several weeks or months for some vaccines to take effect, which is needed when travelling to certain foreign countries. A tetanus booster may also be a good idea.
For teens, it’s more important for them to have fun with their friends than to pay attention to their health. Though it’s impossible to control everything, it’s still important to make sure they understand the importance of staying healthy and safe without overprotecting them.
7. Establish a communication strategy
Thanks to easy and inexpensive technology, we can keep in touch with our children anywhere in the world except for the most remote places. Before they leave, figure out how you will stay in touch with them and how often they will check in.
Be sure to turn airplane mode on before the flight, and to keep it on until after the return flight, to avoid an outrageous roaming charge. They can manually re-enable Wi-Fi to connect to secure wireless spots when they’re in an area with free or inexpensive Wi-Fi, such as a hotel or restaurant.
8. Get to know the travel mates
Discovering new places, tasting new foods, meeting new people and communicating in a different language can all be part of the experience and excitement of travelling. As first-time travellers, young people might be overwhelmed by the whole experience. Reach out to those in charge who are typically caring people and can help guide them through their journey and remove some of the stress if needed.
Global Summers Academy runs programs that will provide an incredible and safe travel experience and, at the same time, also enables students to learn and earn high school credits.
Remember, the first trip without the family is a big moment for teenagers. Give them the support they need. The more prepared they are, the more likely they are to return with amazing memories!