7 Tips for Parents of First Time Travelers

So your child has announced they want to go traveling for the first time and naturally, as a parent you may have hesitations. Here are 7 tips to help alleviate your concerns before they set off.

Photo © GettyImages/Vladimir Vladimirov

Remember the ‘separation issues” they suffered when you first took them to kindy? Guess what, now you’re the one having the issues.

Just take slow, deep breaths, and resist the urge to hide their passport.

Communicate

It’s natural to worry and be protective, but if you talk to your child about those fears you may discover how well prepared they are, how they’ve thought rationally about the pros and cons. If they haven’t, you can help them by doing some research together.

Trip Planning

Go to the web and read about the trip they’re taking. Imagine yourself in their position and what you’d do. Get excited about what they’re going to discover. You’ll also get familiar with the itinerary and see how well organised the tour is.

Our partner, Tour Radar helps travelers find the right trip for them via a number of different tour suppliers. Many of these trips have a trip manager, driver and local guides who take care of the logistics like booking hotels, finding the best spots for dinner in a small town where no one speaks English, and getting everyone from place to place. They're all experienced travelers themselves and can share their knowledge with your loved one.

The Reality of Travel

It’s probably quite some time since you did any travel, so your idea of what to expect may be dramatically out of date.

You need to investigate, but there’s no need to call Interpol, others have done the work for you. The World Nomads’ Travel Safety section has close to a thousand articles detailing the potential risks to health, and giving realistic assessments of crime in over 100 destinations.

Staying in Touch

Don’t set yourself up for failure. If you insist on being emailed “every day”, there will come a day when no email arrives. You’ll assume your child has been kidnapped, or has been hospitalised due to a bungy jumping adventure that went horribly wrong! When in fact they stayed to have one more beer with new friends, or there was no wi-fi, or they simply forgot (this trip is about them, not you!).

Coming Home

Because you pulled on a tie-dye t-shirt and a backpack and went to discover the Silk Road for half a decade, it doesn’t mean they will. The falling cost of travel relative to income has fuelled a trend for people to take shorter trips more often. There will always be some who decide to travel for a year or more, but they are definitely in the minority.

Letting Go

You’ve raised your child to be strong, independent, and resilient. This is what you’ve been readying them to do. It’s a “happy sad”, but time to give yourself a pat on the back too. Psychologists recognise this is the hardest phase of parenting, where you have to transition from “managing” to “mentoring” your offspring. This is your first test of that new relationship.

Enjoy Your Freedom

You’ve now got some time to get stuck into that renovation you’ve been promising to do. Repaint the house. Throw out the junk. Fumigate your child's room! It will give you something else to focus on instead of where your child might be every minute of the day. They’ll be back before the paint’s had a chance to dry.

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