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Whether it’s a trip to celebrate the end of exams, or just to spend some time abroad without the watchful eye of mum and dad, going on holiday with friends can be an exciting milestone for most young adults. However, for parents, this can understandably be a scary experience as you put your faith and trust in your children to look after themselves.
We understand that letting the young adults in your life embark on an adventure without you can be a stressful time. On one hand, you want to make sure they stay safe and don’t get into any trouble, and on the other, you want them to make lifelong memories and have the time of their life. That’s why, to help you feel more at ease, we have put together some top tips on how you can help plan and prepare for your teen’s first holiday without you.
Check the destination that they plan to visit (and if they can travel there without you)
Firstly, it’s important to make sure you’re both comfortable with where they plan on travelling to. It may be that you feel more at ease with them visiting a country in Europe, so that they’re not on the other side of the world for their first trip away without you. But be mindful that they may have other destinations in mind and you should take the time to consider their reasons for visiting the destination they’ve got their heart set on.
There’s no harm in reminding them of some of the benefits of travelling to a destination closer to home. For example, in Europe, you can learn about different backgrounds and cultures but still have some home familiarities. As an example, in most popular European destinations you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to restaurants and activities that are specifically designed for British tourists. Staying a few hours away from home can make for a great option for those who are travelling without their parents for the first time and have the potential to be a little homesick.
It’s always a good idea to check any age restrictions at holiday destinations too, as this can vary depending on where you visit. For example, your teen may be eligible to drive at home, but may not be old enough to hire a car or moped abroad. This is something to bear in mind when they book their accommodation so they can be on the lookout for hotels closer to shops and attractions.
The laws and customs of different countries are something to also be aware of before booking a trip abroad, as this may be something your teens forget to look into. This could be anything from local laws, or even Covid-19 rules and regulations to enter or leave the country. Travelling to Europe now has fewer restrictions around vaccination proof, but it is always a good idea to do some research beforehand to avoid being denied access (as this isn’t something your travel insurance will cover).
Consider what they should pack with them
If your teens have started packing for their adventure why not join them by helping out and packing together, doing this will give you extra peace of mind and reassurance that they have got all the essentials they need to have both a safe and fun holiday without you. Some essentials to make sure your teens pack include clothes, emergency supplies such as paracetamol, suncream, medication, emergency money and EHIC or GHIC cards.
Travel insurance is also a vital thing to take out before travelling (if they are under 18, they may need someone 18 and over to travel with them so they can go under the same policy as most providers won’t insure those under 18 individually).
Of course, the type of holiday they are going on may also influence what type of things they need in their luggage – after all, a swimming costume won’t be much use on a ski holiday!
Discuss steps they can take to stay safe while abroad
Talking to your teen about safety while abroad is another great way to help them prepare. In most cases, they’ll probably already know the basics, such as not leaving their bags unattended, not drinking excessively, and not walking alone at night. But discussing these topics can be a good way to give yourself peace of mind that you’ve done your ‘parental’ part and advised them as best as you can.
Another way you can make them feel safe while away from home is to make sure they have the right clothes and equipment for their destination (e.g., if they’re going skiing, they’ll need specific ski wear and equipment) as well as easy access to your contact details should they need them. Writing key contact numbers down on a piece of paper can be a good preventative measure should their personal belongings become lost or stolen during their trip, as they’ll still be able to get a hold of you.
With your contact information on hand, you can sleep easy knowing that they know how to reach you in an emergency or for a quick catchup should either of you need it. As adults and parents, we have every right to be concerned for their safety but it is also important to be tactile with the way we express our concerns so we don’t create fears in them that might hold them back from having a good time.
Discuss what to do in an emergency
Again, make sure you speak about how they can contact you in case of an emergency. Note down your number on a piece of paper for them to take with their belongings, write down the local provider’s number to call in an emergency (e.g., the country’s equivalent of our 999). Save their travel insurance providers’ emergency medical assistance line in their phone as a contact. These little steps will not only come in handy, should the worst happen, but it will also give you peace of mind that they’re fully prepared.
It’s also worth making a note of any friends they’re travelling with and asking permission to keep their contact details in the case of an emergency (just don’t ring them if it’s not an emergency as they’ll probably never forgive you for embarrassing them!).
General travel advice from Mum and Dad
Now is a great time to pass on some words of wisdom, whether that’s advice on airport etiquette, how often to stay on top of their sun cream applications, or offering safety tips on how to always stick together and not venture off alone in unknown places. Equipping them with all your years of travel knowledge will help them to have the trip they want and deserve.
Airport etiquette is something you most likely have more experience with, so mentioning how long they should give themselves ahead of their flight and where to find help if they need it, will help them keep to a good time frame and ensure they don’t get lost.
A good rule of thumb is to arrive 2 hours before your flight and keep your boarding ticket and passport in an easily accessible shoulder bag or backpack.
You might also want to share your experience of how quickly sunburn can make a good holiday into one not-so-great. When helping your teens pack, make sure they have a high-quality lotion that they can rely on to protect their skin and keep them comfortable throughout their time away. Lastly and maybe one of the most important talks to have before they go is the safety talk. Share all your holiday experiences good and bad and give them plenty of tips and tricks on how to stay as safe as possible.
So, there you have it, our top 10 tips for parents with teens planning to travel abroad. To give you extra peace of mind, it’s important to make sure your teens have taken out travel insurance that covers them for the type of holiday they are planning. For example, if they are planning to take part in risky activities such as surfing or rock climbing a sports extension may be required. Every provider differs but here at Holidaysafe, we have over 100 different sports and activities covered free under most policies. Read our activities list here: https://www.holidaysafe.co.uk/activity-packs/.
As well as automatic cover for sports and hazardous activities we provide policyholders with 15% off when they buy online*, cover for most medical conditions, and 24/7 Emergency medical assistance and a team here for you when you need it! Find out more about our award-winning travel insurance here: https://www.holidaysafe.co.uk/awards/.
*Please note, Holidaysafe’s online prices automatically include a 15% discount against our Customer Service Centre prices.
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