What to do before your kids go on their first independent holiday
I remember the first time I was allowed to go travelling without my parents, and I was over the moon. I was 18, I had just finished school, and I'd organised to go to Canada with my friends.
But little did I know that while I was off having the time of my life, my mum and dad were sitting at home fretting and sweating.
So, for all those parents out there with kids about to go travelling independently, here are some tips on how to stay calm while your baby is away:
- Ask for a copy of their itinerary that includes flights, hotels, tours and so on, so you'll know where they'll be and when. Keeping a copy of their passport is also a good idea; if their passport gets lost or stolen overseas, it'll make getting help much easier.
- Prepare an emergency contact pack that includes important phone numbers they might need overseas (think hotels, embassies, travel insurance companies, reverse call numbers for Australia etc.). Include numbers of people they might need at home too. If they lose their phone, the numbers will go with it!
- I almost didn't put this tip in, but consider packing them a mini first aid kit. If my parents had given me one I would've laughed (or cringed)! But, it might not be a bad idea. Include things they might not think of, but could come to really appreciate, like bite/sting cream, painkillers, diarrhoea medication, seasickness tablets, antacids, Band-Aids…
- Phones are great when travelling, but international roaming can be costly, especially if you're paying the phone bill! The best way around this is to ask them to get a local SIM card or phone when they arrive overseas. It'll make calls and texts much cheaper.
- Give them an emergency credit card or some cash in the destination's currency (but stress it's for emergencies only!). And prepare mentally – and financially – to possibly transfer them some cash if they get stuck.
- Don't expect them to call. No one wants their parents looking over their shoulder from afar, especially when you're with friends. Just agree to touch base at certain points in the trip so you know they're still alive!
- Stay in touch with parents of the other kids going along. Together you can create an effective spy network.
- Accept that silly and unexpected things may well happen; don't judge or be angry, it's all part of growing up!
- Make sure they have the right level of travel insurance consider cover that includes medical/hospital, delays, baggage, and sports/activities. It'll help if something goes wrong and they need aid overseas.
- Get them to register their travel plans on Smartraveller.gov.au. If they get into trouble and need help from the Australian government, it'll make things much easier.
- Be excited for them. Keep in mind that travelling can help kids learn how to make better decisions and take on more responsibility. You never know, they might come back more mature than ever!
- Try not to fret non-stop about what they are doing or if they're alright. Instead, focus on the things you enjoy! Remember, their trip also means quality 'down time' for you.
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