How to keep your kids safe when traveling internationally.
A parent must go through many different emotions when raising their child. Love, connection, bonding, but also fear, worry, and the need to protect. They are all felt strongly, but as your child grows and begins to leave the nest, those latter emotions will feel all the stronger. However, it’s not healthy to simply keep your child at home and to restrict them from exploring the world and coming to terms with it. They need to grow, as you once had to.
It’s not uncommon for developing late teenagers and young adults to travel somewhere in the world. They might decide to volunteer somewhere, to backpack around Europe, to travel somewhere for sporting aspirations. What matters is knowing how to help your child stay protected abroad, to give them enough time to relax and see the sights – but also to stay safe.
As a parent, it can be customary to help equip them with their sensibilities before they go abroad. As storied travelers ourselves, we wish to help you do that:
Plan Their Routes
Of course, you cannot help them plan every single microscopic detail in their journey, as that would be much too overbearing. But you can help them plan their routes, such as what roads they might take when traveling, what airports they use or what train stations they might decide to attend. This can help them avoid traveling unsure, being ripped off in terms of price, or using a less reputable agency to help them get around.
Just Getting Started
There’s no reason as to why your child needs to go on a trip planned completely by themselves to start with, such as backpacking on their own around Europe and staying in whatever hostel is closest. It’s important for you to encourage them going on a package deal, ideally with a directed route or a resort and some of the extra necessary efforts taken care of, such as their accommodation or catering. These kinds of efforts can be very good for other reasons. For example, it might be that they are directed around tourism hotspots, are helped in their voluntarist efforts, or perhaps are introduced to training alongside the sport they hope to experience abroad.
This kind of convenience can often take the worry out of this entire process, and put the tools of enjoyment back in the hands of your child. On top of that, they will also have most of their time available to get used to the course of independent travel. We would recommend that is an important first step to get them comfortable with travel abroad.
Ensure A Friend Comes
They should not travel alone. Perhaps in the future they would like to, but if you have any say about it, the should at least go with one friend, and preferably at least one more. When they travel in a small group they are much more likely to remain safer, less susceptible to mistreatment, and also much more competent at keeping themselves together with the responsibilities we all have when traveling from place to place.
On top of this, solo travel can often be quite stressful when things go wrong. If something does happen, you potentially have two extra contact points and the knowledge that they have someone looking out for them. Just be sure to approve who these friends are, and if they can be trusted when heading out with your child. Sensibility is often the most valuable virtue to look for here.
Ensure They Are Equipped
It’s important for your child to remain equipped when traveling across the world. You might decide to outfit them with safety items, such as a lanyard, a pocket chain, a hidden cash belt, and a fake wallet. You might give them a secure backpack, help them with weather-proof clothes, ensure their documentation is in order, and show them the best and most space-efficient means of packing a suitcase. Equipping them with a phrase book or a tourist information brochure might be able to help them in a bind. A travel phone and camera can also be a good idea, or an unlimited SIM found at Smarty https://smarty.co.uk/unlimited-sim, as contact is an absolute must.
If you cannot ensure they are equipped, then they will be much more likely to be at a loss when they really need said items. After all, their first relative travel alone will often come with so many things they need to remember that they can get there only to realise they have forgotten the essentials. On top of that, it can be important to ensure they have adequate spending money, and know how to exchange travelers cheques.
Teach Them Safety
Sometimes, it’s not what you equip them with physically, but what attitude you curate in your child that keeps them effective and aware when abroad. For example, it’s important to let them know how to stay hygienic, how to pack, how to protect their hotel room and hide money, how to deflate or avoid conflict, how to stay near other tourists, and how to avoid being pickpocketed.
Teach them safety such as a respect for the locals and to not draw attention to themselves. Teach them how to enjoy the place and to travel in numbers to maximize comfort and also protection no matter where they are. And, on top of all this, teach them how they can remain perceptive, even when tired, to avoid being taken advantage of. If they go equipped with this mindset, knowing that their safety is their responsibility at all times, they are less likely to behave in a reckless manner.
Help Them Research The Area
Not all areas are quite alike. It might be that your child is heading to a beautiful country, but they’ll still need to know what areas are best to avoid, and which ones might be best to visit. Everywhere has its good and bad places, even some of the nicest regions of the world. On top of that, it might be that carnivals or festivals are bringing in thousands upon thousands of tourists at a particular time, and that might mean that pickpockets will congregate around said area.
Helping them research the area can be a fun activity, and help instill this habit in them. For example, making a collage of places to visit, places to avoid, perhaps a few customs to learn and what etiquette to use can help the entire trip take on a vivid appearance well ahead of time. On top of that, taking simple activities such as watching a documentary on the country can help them pick up useful travel advice, places to visit, that sort of thing. Being informed is perhaps the best way to stay safe and to make the most out of a journey. It could also help your child select a place in the world. For example, they might wish to head to a certain country, but if there’s a threat of conflict in a nearby region, it might be best to put that on pause for now.
On top of that, sweeping illnesses, availability and seasonal shifts can all contribute to making a place more or less ideal to visit, and it’s that kind of information that you don’t want to have to learn about after your arrival.
With these tips, we hope you are much better able to help your child stay protected when abroad.
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