It’s hard enough when your child starts leaving the house without you – not to be filled with worry. But when your child is old enough to go on their first independent holiday, it can be difficult to avoid the temptation of frequently calling them up and checking that they’re OK.
I mean, let’s face it – there are plenty of things that could go wrong on vacation and even though it’s unlikely anything bad will happen, as a worried parent you’re much more likely to be focusing on the bad things than the good things. But stop right there.
There are things you can do, and things you can put into place before hand – that will not only put your mind at ease – but that will ensure the safety and well being your child too.
The likelihood is, for their first independent holiday your child is going to be around 16-20 years old – as this is when most children decide they’d rather explore the world with their friends than with their parents – and that’s fine. You can’t argue against this – you were probably the same at their age (even if you’re denying it all these years later!). First things first, you need to give your child acceptance and be encouraging about this big step. While it should be your job to ensure you have measures like this in place – the main outcome you want from this vacation is that they enjoy themselves and they don’t come back afraid to take such an important step again. Independence is hugely important when growing up and venturing into adulthood – and the last thing you want is to scare them away from it.
So how can you rest easy knowing they’re safe?
Here are a few teenage safety tips while traveling:
1. Book a package deal
Book your child’s holiday vacation with a package deal operator, where most things are included – such as flight transfers, hotel, breakfast and even dinner. That way you know that all those little details are being taken care of – and you know that they’re getting a good meal every day. Always book through a trusted provider too, and if you like – you could even tell the travel agent or booking agent that this is their first independent vacation and that you’d like someone to keep an eye on them. Just don’t tell you child you’ve arranged that – as it takes away the fun from their point of view!
2. Don’t let them go solo
Traveling independently for the first time is pretty nerve-wracking, and even if your child is putting on a brave face, the chances are they’re also feeling a bit apprehensive. I’d always say that for the first independant holiday, your child should be going somewhere with one or two friends – never solo. Traveling solo is daunting for even the most seasoned jetsetter, so make sure they have company. There is also safety in numbers here – as the chances are – if they get lost – at least one of them will know how to read a map, or speak the language, etc.
3. Get a money passport
Most banks now offer money passports, where you pre-load currency onto a debit card – which you can then use freely when you’re abroad without getting fined of charged fees. Not only is it hugely convenient, but you also get given 2 cards (one for safe keeping) and an online log in. So should your child run out of cash half way through the vacation – you can simply load more currency onto the card from home online
4. Pay for Roaming Charges
If you’re really worried about keeping in touch with your children – then for your own peace of mind it may be better to allow you child to use the mobile internet on their phone while abroad. That way, they can update their Facebook status, tweet, email you photos, etc – all of which are signs they’re OK and doing well – without you hounding them on the phone every hour. Failing that, schedule a quick Skype call every couple of days, so you can at least check in with them to make sure things are alright. If you are looking for even more security then you can purchase a GPS tracker app which will allow you to check your child’s every move and location. Some people may see this as a little too much, however the apps tracks geographical location so if anything does occur then you know exactly where your child is located.
5. Lecture them on the do’s and don’ts
As with all children the last thing you want to do is lecture them – but this is one occasion when that’s OK, and years later they’ll appreciate it. Sit them down one night over dinner and chat through their plans, safety precautions and other things that are bothering you or might trip them up. It’s a good idea to research tourist scams in the area they’re visiting so they can brush up on them and avoid them successfully. It’s also a good idea to remind them of the basics – such as only using registered taxicabs, etc. Things like this slip your mind when you’re an excited teenager – so just take the time to remind them. This should also include the laws – like drinking and smoking. Make sure your child knows what is breaking the law in this new country.
6. Print out important documents
This is especially important if your child is going somewhere a bit further afield. Many children choose to venture off to Australia or Thailand after their final high school assessments on a ‘gap year’ which can be a culture shock if they’ve never been anyone alone before. Because of this, make sure you’ve got paper evidence of sections of their trip, so a printed booking of the flight, the hotel, the address (with map) and even printed insurance documents and photocopies of passports. Things like this will come in handy and will stop them from either getting lost or being unprepared.
About the Author:
Ryan is the resident blogger at AsiaRooms. When Ryan is not working he spends his time travelling the globe, drawing on his travel experience and passion for travel to spread the good word. Ryan is also a social monkey and can be found lounging around on Twitter & Google+ and loves to interact with other travel bloggers.
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