This rings true for both you and your child, by the way.
The idea of letting your teenager take a flight on their own or go on a road-trip without your supervision with friends might seem daunting, but it’s simply part of growing up.
After all, kids want to take on responsibility and parents likewise sometimes need to loosen the leash a bit.
But why might you let your teenager travel on their own? If the conversation hasn’t already come up, consider some common reasons such as…
A right of passage: older teens might want to prove that they can take on “big” life tasks without their parents holding their hands
A reward: either as a sort of graduation gift or a celebration for some other milestone (think: getting into college), a solo trip is a one-of-a-kind present
Preparing for the future: on a related note, kids prepping for university life and living on their own may desire to “test the waters” by traveling on their own.
Of course, you can’t simply let your kid run loose and plan their trip totally on their own terms. Even the most mature of teenagers are going to need a bit of help when it comes to planning out their trips, especially considering they might not know what to expect in a “what-if” situation without you there.
Below are some tips to ensure that your teen has a safe trip and you have total peace of mind while they’re away from home. Regardless of where they’re going or how they’re getting there (think: road-trip or by plane), all of these tips are totally fair game.
Have a Say in their Destination
Just because your teen wants to go on a trip doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some stake in where they’re going. For example, running off to Cancun or somewhere out of the country probably isn't wise for an unsupervised vacation.
Ideally, your child’s destination should have some sort of purpose or attraction behind it (think: a major tourist spot like Orlando or their desired college town). You can do your own homework in terms of where they plan on staying to ensure that the area is safe, too.
Sort Out Transportation and Accommodations
Speaking on which, double-check that where your child is staying is sorted out before they take off. Some hotels allow for minors to stay granted the reservation is taken care of by an adult in advance; however, other require a credit card present in addition to an adult. Minors cannot stay at an Airbnb without an adult either, so keep that in mind as well.
On a related note, you need to make sure that your child can safely get from Point A from Point B during their trip. If your child is 18 or older, they can take advantage of Uber gift cards and ridesharing to get around considering a rental car isn’t an option. This might make more sense for teens who are inexperienced drivers who don’t feel comfortable in busy locations.
Encourage Frequent Check-In’s
The good news for otherwise worried parents sending their child off alone? Smartphones make it easier than ever to stay in touch.
For example, you can encourage frequent texts and updates from your child throughout the day to ensure they’re where they’re supposed to be. Meanwhile, you can also use apps like FaceTime or ask for photos for some much-needed peace of mind.
While you don’t want to completely smother your teen’s vacation, check-in’s only take a moment for your child and can be a bargaining chip for allowing them to go alone in the first place. That said, there are also apps out that force your kid to respond to texts if it comes down to that.
Ensure That There’s an Itinerary
If your child is traveling with friends, you have a right to be concerned about their behavior.
An important piece of keeping them out of trouble is making sure that they have a schedule filled with things to do rather than having no concrete plans upon arrival. You can sit down on sites like TripAdvisor to find activities to keep your kid busy if they seem flaky on what they want to do.
Packing the Essentials
While essential items for solo travel vary from teen to teen, there are some particular priorities your child should keep in mind when packing. Such items include:
Appropriate ID and documentation for flying
Prescription medications and any other medical items they might need in case of an emergency (think: an asthma inhaler, epi pen, etc).
A portable charger to keep their electronics running while they’re on-the-go
Oh, and providing a bit of emergency money is also a smart move. To keep them from carrying too much cash, a preloaded debit card allows your teen to work within a budget without having to worry about a “what-if” moment.
Although it may be difficult not being the plus-one on your teenager’s next trip, bear in mind that allowing them this freedom is just part of being a parent. With these tips in mind, you can allow them to go off on their own with peace of mind and help ensure they have a great trip, too.