How to prepare your teen kids to travel without you?
Raising a teen is no picnic, even if you have the most well-behaved, sensible kids in the neighborhood (or even the galaxy). With the potential war you’re waging against acne and silent treatment, not to mention the style crises teens go through (many of us have had the “I’m too metal for this world” phase), thinking about their ever-growing independence can be difficult.
Let alone when it’s up to you to empower it. If your teen child is looking to take a trip without you and with their friends, you need to be both supportive and helpful, so that they know what to do in different scenarios.
Traveling safely is one of the most valuable life lessons you can impart to your teen during their most inquisitive stage of life. To do it well means preparing yourself to prepare them for their first parent-free journey. Here are a few ideas you can use when that moment comes.
Boost their confidence – they’ll need it
Teens often have that façade of feeling perfectly self-sufficient and confident, when in reality, they have very little self-esteem and might be struggling. Travel can be very emotionally and mentally taxing for a young adult about to spend time with their friends and outside of their routine, plus the new culture and the unknowns of travel.
Reassure them in the days before they take the trip. Do your best to boost their confidence by telling them that you know they have everything under control and that they are ready for such an adventure, that you trust them. Ask them how they feel about the trip, and you might have more than one opportunity to discuss the details and help them share how they feel.
Talk about potential setbacks
Making mistakes and misjudging situations is all part of the teen experience. However, making preventable mistakes is unnecessary, so you can share some of your poor travel experiences and great ways to avoid them and prepare properly.
For example, entice them to create a copy of their passport they’ll keep both printed, and on the cloud, just in case their bag gets stolen or lost. Researching affordable places to eat is another great way to help them save up while retaining a genuine local experience. It’s also crucial to share their itinerary with you and settle on a schedule on when they’ll be in touch so that you know they’re okay.
Look for accommodation together
Do you know where your teen is staying? If this is a pre-organized, group trip with their school or sports team, then you likely already have the agenda and all the necessary details. In case it’s a solo trip with their friends and with their own itinerary, your travel experience should come in really handy to help them find affordable but safe accommodation.
Together, you can look for furnished studios for rent with shared areas like the kitchen and laundry, and with great access to public transport. Look for places that have their utility bills included in the price, and the kind that is in a good, secure, but lively neighborhood. Your teen will enjoy the trip without being bored, and you’ll help them save up.
Offer help when it is time to pack
Some teens are top-of-the-class, valedictorian material, while others forget where they put their socks the moment they’re back home from school. There are the in-betweens, of course, but in any case, teens can be forgetful, focused on the excitement and not the practicalities, and packing needs both practicality and focus.
Based on their destination and duration of the trip, ask them about their packing list – which they probably don’t have. You can create one together and help them organize their luggage one day before the trip takes place. That’s a brilliant way to give yourself peace of mind but also equip your kids with precisely the kind of essentials they would otherwise forget.
Encourage them to learn about self-defense
Whether you have any experience with martial arts or not, the modern world can be a scary place for a teen, especially if your child is traveling to a country you don’t know well and with potentially risky events involved. It’s up to you to help them tackle many life’s challenges, one of them is the unpredictability of human behavior – so why not brace yourself for the unknown?
You can look for a self-defense course your teen can take before the trip, and talk to them about the possibility to learn these invaluable skills. Confidence is not enough in these situations. Plus, learning and practicing self-defense also means obtaining skills that will be useful throughout their life, not just for that trip only.
You might not be an expert in everything, but you remember well what it meant to travel alone as a teen back in the day – provided that you were permitted to do so. This is bound to be an emotional moment for you and your kids, but with the right preparation process, you can help them get ready, show them they can rely on you, and send them on their way knowing you’ve done your best.
Derek Lotts is an experienced freelance writer and blogger. His main areas of interest are lifestyle, home improvement, and sustainable living. He strongly believes in the power of sharing knowledge and ideas through the mediums of modern technology.