Does the idea of your child travelling alone make you sick to your stomach? Is your child showing signs of anxiety about their upcoming adventure? This just happened in our house. Our fifteen-year-old daughter is heading to Europe all by herself, and I’m freaking out.
So ok, not really by herself. She will be with about 30 other students from her school plus several teachers and chaperones. Nevertheless, to me, none of that matters because neither my husband or I will be with her, so I genuinely feel as if she will be alone.
Ok, ok. It’s silly, I know — a tad dramatic.
I’ve got it into my head that I need to be there every second of my kid’s life, or they will struggle. But I’ve come to realize that I don’t give my kids enough credit. They are so smart, intuitive and caring. We’ve done a pretty good job of teaching them how to use their skills in the big wide world.
I came to this realization shortly after the initial meeting for the school trip. We were so excited until they mentioned to us parents were not allowed to go — instant gut ache. My first thought was there is no way she is going!
Later that night, as my husband listened patiently to me as I expressed my many, many fears and reasons why she shouldn’t go. As I was talking, I realized how stupid I sounded. I was letting my insecurities get in the way of my daughter having an experience that she will remember for the rest of her life.
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She’s going to Europe!
When we first put down the initial deposit, it was over a year and a half before the trip’s departure. Then all of a sudden, there were only a few weeks until our daughter would leave.
As the departure date crept closer, I realized that we were both silently freaking out. We were avoiding the tough stuff trying to stay strong for one another. So without much planning, we sat down and had a good talk about how we were feeling and what our expectations were.
Does this resonate with you? Are you facing a similar situation?
After searching the internet for help with this topic, I didn’t have much luck finding anything relevant, which led to the creation of our Travel Prep Worksheet for parents and kids. Please feel free to download it and work through it with your child. It’s free!
Talk it out
When my daughter and I had our conversation about our trip anxiety, five major concerns were raised. If you have a child travelling alone and feeling anxious, these can be valuable jumping-off points to get you started.
1) What is the Trip Itinerary?
Type up the itinerary with flight information, hotel information and the stops they are going to make along the way. Print off two copies: one for your child and one for you!
I think to have this information easily accessible, so when your child starts to feel anxious, they can have a look and know what to expect.
2) How to Keep Safe?
- What are your rules or guidelines for when your child needs to leave the group? For example: If our daughter needs to leave her school group for any reason, she must take at least one of her friends with her. Safety in numbers.
- Use a money belt for passport and excess cash.
- Keep valuables on her person at all times.
- What to do if she feels uncomfortable or unsafe?
- Who is a trusted adult?
- What are the school rules
3) How will we communicate?
- Should your child take a cell phone? What would that cost?
- Is there availability for Facetime or Skype?
- What will work best for your family? Be careful, imposing a call schedule on your child. Although it may be convenient for you, it may put your kid in a stressful situation. I would set some loose guidelines. For example, you could say something like “text us at least once a day to check-in. A phone call every other day. Please send me some pictures! “
4) What is the best way to pay?
- Should we send our child with cash? Card? Or both?
- Maybe we should look into getting a credit card?
- Will their debit card work in another country?
- Do we need to advise the bank that they are travelling outside of the country?
5) What to expect at the destination?
- Research the cultural customs at your destination?
- What is the language(s) spoken?
- Is there something special the country known for?
- Are there any new foods they would like to try?
Don’t forget to talk about the good stuff!
Now let’s spin it around and figure out all the positive stuff. The goal is to get them so excited that the worries fade into the background. They won’t be worried!
Here are some examples of what we came up with:
- Our daughter is super excited to travel to Europe. It’s always been a dream of hers.
- She is excited to be independent, not have her parents (or siblings) looking over her shoulder.
- Gets to share this experience with her friends.
- She will be visiting two countries from where our family immigrated (Hungary & Poland)
- We are both excited that she is going to some important historical sites (Berlin Wall, Auschwitz)
Need some help budgeting for an upcoming holiday? Our Travel Budget Planner is a great start! Check it out here!
The anxiety of your child travelling alone can be overwhelming. Whether your child is travelling closer to home or to the other side of the world, the idea can be so scary!
Moms always want to be there for their kids. We want to guide and protect them, but there are times when we can’t.
I had anxiety at the thought of our daughter travelling to Europe without us. I had no idea how to handle the situation. After lots of research and contemplation, the Travel Prep Worksheet was created. It helped us get a handle on the situation and turn the anxiety into positivity!