My teen daughter is preparing to travel to Florida for a national lacrosse tournament in November, the weekend of her 16th birthday! I am thrilled for her to have this fun opportunity, especially at an important milestone.
Although she'll be traveling for the tournament with her teammates and coaches, I am a bit nervous. This will be the third trip she's made, from Michigan to Florida, with either a school or sports group. Fortunately, everything went quite smoothly on the prior trips.
Despite full itineraries and supervision, I do worry about the possibility of her becoming separated from her group at the busy airports or unintentionally wandering off into dangerous situations or areas.
As a 16 yr old, I traveled to Europe as part of an exchange group and I know first hand how even well prepped young travelers can sometimes find themselves in trouble. My friends and I, innocently exploring, found ourselves in precarious situations more than once during our travels. Retrospectively, with a more experienced, mature look back, I realize how naive and invincible my friends and I were; how fortunate that no significant harm came to us.
To prepare my teen for safe travel, we always cover the following topics a couple of weeks ahead of her departure, when she is not completely distracted by the excitement of her journey, as well as the day before she leaves:
1) Cover the itinerary in depth.
Make sure your teen traveler has her flights memorized, as well as hotel names. Load all the pertinent details into their cell phone, including phone numbers of all chaperones, phone numbers and addresses of hotels and shuttle services and emergency contact numbers for the events they'll be attending. Copy this information also onto a laminated index card that they can keep on their person for ease reference in case their cell battery dies.
2) Familiarize them with what to expect.
Especially if you teen is new to traveling without you, you'll want to ensure they know what to expect when they arrive at the airport for their departing flight, as well as what will happen when they arrive at their destination. Having familiarity with the processes of boarding and disembarking will help in eliminating stress and confusion, enabling them to stay focused on sticking with their group.
3) Discuss how to handle the unexpected.
Anyone who has traveled by air is likely well aware of all the things that interfere with your well planned excursion. From flight delays to lost luggage, making sure your teen is aware that these types of inconveniences can occur will help them to handle the unexpected, while minimizing stress.
4) Discuss how to handle money and valuables.
Teenagers are notoriously self absorbed, a characteristic that can prove dangerous in certain circumstances. While I do send some cash with my daughter, her primary source for spending is plastic - a card I can easily reload, is not tied to my bank account, that also offers easy replacement if lost or stolen. Teens need to understand the importance of being discreet with both cash and cards.
5) Ensure your conversation is two sided and fun.
Most important, you'll want to ensure your teen is engaged in your discussion. Lecture them and you'll only be tuned out, leaving your teen vulnerable and lacking in knowledge to keep them safe. Role playing can be a fun way to illustrate situations that may arise, that will also give them an opportunity to show off what they know! Set up scenarios that are applicable to your teen's upcoming adventure. Travel to densely populated, urban locations, especially those that are near borders, present different safety concerns than travel to rural or suburban destinations. Police departments or Chamber of Commerce offices can provide travelers with information about scams and ruses to watch out for.
Peace of Mind for Parents
While these tips will help you prepare your teen for safe and savvy traveling, as a parent, you can maintain your peace of mind by using a service like SafeKidZone to track your teen's safety, as well as provide them with effective means of communication to you, your Safety Network and emergency responders in the event of danger.
|SafeKidZone ~ GPS Tracking|
By signing up for SafeKidZone service for your family's cell phones, you'll be able to track your child by GPS when they are traveling, as well as view the Crime Date/Sex Offender Map associated with any location they visit.
|SafeKidZone ~ Crime Data Map|
The SafeKidZone service further alerts your teen to potential danger, via the Threat Alert feature, with Threat Level adjusting as your teen is on the move.
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How Threat Levels and Alerts increase your child’s safety
- Knowing threats in your child’s location can help him/her avoid danger
- They always know if they are close to Sex Offenders locations
- Threat level is a real time measurement of danger
- Crime statistics are automatically calculated into the threat level
- Easily identify places your child should avoid
- The child is automatically alerted if they are near a dangerous area
- Understand why an area is dangerous
Thank you to SafeKidZone for sponsoring this post. The opinions above are both honest and my own. Images and information sourced from various SafeKidZone sites. European Walkway Image.