Tips for parents with teens traveling solo

My son is entering his teen years and already he is trying to separate himself from his parents. I get it, parents are boring, we don’t know how to have fun, we’re embarrassing. I was that kid, mortified to be with my weird parents. I’d like to think I’m a little cooler than my parents were. I’m reading the Ultimate guide to Fortnite so I at least have something to bring to the table when we talk.  At 13 we let him venture out on his own somewhat. We drop him off at the mall with his friends or him and his friends walk to 7-11 on the corner but we are certainly not ready to send him off on his own for a vacation yet.

For those of you that have older teens, maybe they’re graduating from high school soon, this is probably a conversation you will be having with your teen soon. Preparing for their trip can sometimes take months of advanced planning depending on where they are going and with who. If they are traveling abroad there are many things to consider. It’s a good idea to set up a daily budget to figure out how much they will need. You’ll want to convert the money to the correct currency before you leave. No need to draw any more attention to them if it’s not necessary. A prepaid credit card is another good idea. If it gets stolen, then they’re only out the money that was on the card.  When I travel I like to keep my money and credit cards in different locations. I may stash some cash inside the insole of my shoe, my credit card in a zippered pocket in my pants and maybe some more cash in my backpack or front pocket. A money belt is a great way to protect themselves. Even if they are robbed it is unlikely their belt will be taken. 

Foreign countries have different electrical outlets so make sure you have the proper converter to charge cell phones, tablets etc. Excessive cell phone use can draw the wrong kind of attention as well. They need to minimize phone use in public as much as possible. Also make sure they avoid headphone use in public. It is very easy to be victimized because you’re not paying attention. Teach them the importance of keeping their head up and aware of their surroundings at all times.

Assuming they will be doing a fair amount of walking, make sure they have a really comfortable pair of shoes. Even if the weather is supposed to be warm it’s a good idea to pack a light weather-proof jacket in case they need it. Things like extra socks and underwear can be invaluable. You can always buy some cheap pairs and they can toss them out if they need to.

Keep important documents in a safe place. Itinerary, hotel reservations, copy of their ID/passport, travel insurance, keep it all together. Put them in an airtight zip lock bag and keep and additional copy on a USB drive. Make a simple medical travel portfolio detailing any ailments, allergies, or other important information in case of emergency. Also make a copy of all their documents and keep them at home as well.

It goes without saying that keeping them healthy is of utmost importance when they travel. Make sure all of their vaccinations are up to date before they leave.

Keep in mind as a parent you are going to want to talk to them much quicker than they are going to actually contact you. They’re out of your care and chances are, probably not thinking about you as much as you are of them. That’s normal. Schedule times to contact you based on their itinerary availability and make sure they follow through with contact you. It may be trough email or text only based on their location.

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