“Why would you let your teen travel alone?” This is what I got from my mom few weeks ago when my son was about to travel from Montreal To California by himself. He was going to pay a visit to some family members over there. Of course having my teen traveling by himself for the first time got me worried and some sleepless nights. But there is a first time for everything and we need to be prepared for that.
My husband who is always on the cool side was not worried at all (or managed to hide it). I was worried sick and was pouring instructions to him for weeks: don’t do this, do that, call me every 5 minutes, don’t talk to strangers.. Until he was no longer listening. But I managed to fill his head with the following instructions and he managed to listen to all of them (or almost). Because it was his first time, I also managed to get some things prepared for him. So moms and dads, here is what you ought to know when your teen is traveling alone, for the first time.
Related: 15 Tips For Family Travelers
What You Need to Know When Your Teen is Traveling Alone
You will be scared to death and that’s ok!
I could not sleep the nights before. I was not scared he would get lost because he knew the drills and he was mature enough. But I was scared he would lose his carry on or passport, miss the flight. All kinds of scared!
Make 2 copies of his passport:
One for your records to keep and one for him in case. This is good advice for anyone traveling, not just for when your teen is traveling alone.
Give him money
He will be on his own so he will need money to eat or for incidentals. We also gave him a prepaid card because sometimes cash is not accepted.
Get him a cellphone
For his safety and your sanity. He had to text me or call every step: when you cross security, you board, etc. Ask him to follow up during all those steps so you know he’s safe and sound.
Help him with his suitcase but don’t overdo
Let him pack but give him instructions on what to pack. Just check up. Your teen will be on his own so he needs to take care of his belongings.
Consider travel assistance
It costs around $100 and the travel agent almost laughed at me. My son is almost 6 feet and taller than her but if you feel comfortable, book it. With this, an airline official escorts your teen to and from the gates in the airport. You might want to consider it if your teen is traveling alone with several layovers and gate changes.
Give him instructions
Don’t talk to strangers, don’t leave your luggage unattended, don’t accept things from strangers. This is the only time I asked him to be almost impolite: don’t answer strangers, don’t help. Just go to your gate and stay there. Talk only to officials in uniform. Better be safe than sorry.
Have faith in him
My child is used to commuting for school so I was confident…or almost. Even if your child never traveled, he will surprise you with how well he handles it!
Think of it as a lifetime experience
And it was. My son managed it well and I was proud of him. He was proud of himself too. It boosted his self esteem.
When your teen is traveling along, it’s definitely a worrisome experience. That’s totally natural. We’re hardwired to worry about our children every time they’re out of our sight! Just keep these tips in mind and remember, millions of people travel every day without incident.