There are quite a few different reasons your teen might be preparing for a trip abroad. Even young teens often have the opportunity to participate in international travel experiences without their parents. These trips can be organized through school, church or an organization. They can be private group travel tours as well. Regardless of the reasons your teen is going abroad, it can be a scary time for you as a parent.
Whether a teen is going to for sightseeing or volunteering, or maybe a combination of both, how can you help them prepare and also prepare yourself?
Be Prepared To Send Money
First and foremost, you want to have contingency plans in place if your teen ends up needing more money than what you send. You are very likely going to find yourself sending money to Nicaragua to cover unexpected expenses, or somewhere else around the globe. Have a transfer service in mind for when this happens, but still teach your teen the importance of appropriately managing their money while they’re away.
Vetting Summer Programs
Most travel programs for teens involve some element of volunteering or community service, and that’s great for different reasons. It’s good for adding to a teen’s college application, and it’s a great character builder for a teen who might not have had a lot of life experiences to this point. However, not all programs are going to be created equally.
Parents shouldn’t be afraid to ask the tough questions before deciding on a specific program their teen will participate in.
For example, parents should know how emergencies are handled, in a detailed way. It can also be a good idea to talk to parents whose teens have previously participated in the program. You really want to know the ins and outs of how the program manages everything, particularly safety-wise.
Along with community service and volunteering programs, there are also language and adventure programs available to teens.
Research the Destination
As well as thoroughly researching the program your teen may be participating in, it’s also important to research the destination where they’re going. There are a lot of differences between places even within the same country.
You’ll want to learn about the cultural norms, the logistics, the financial elements, and what people wear on a daily basis. You want your teen to be prepared, and that can also help them be safer.
When you’re helping your teen pack for their trip abroad, you’ll need to think about the climate and what the local cultural norms and expectations are. It’s also important to think about the activities they’ll be participating in.
Most programs will provide a packing list, and it’s a good idea to follow this as closely as possible. Program operators know best what your teen will need, and there’s a reason they put together these lists.
You should try and help your teen avoid the tendency to overpack as well. If your teen does pack too much, they’re going to be lugging a lot of items around, and it’s going to make their trip logistically more difficult.
On a teen’s trip abroad, it can be better to under-pack than overpack.
Plans for Staying In Touch
As a mom, one of your biggest fears about your teen going abroad is that they’re not going to be at home with you. You won’t have control over what’s happening while they’re away, and that can be scary. At the same time, you can’t expect your teen is going to be able to stay in constant contact with you. They’re going to be busy experiencing new things, and there might not be tons of opportunities for communication.
You can speak with the program operators and determine how it would be best to schedule regular communication with your teen. You can set up a time each day that you’ll talk, and leave it at that. That gives you the chance to check in, but you’re not obsessing over how to get in touch with your teen at all times.
Finally, talk to your teen before their trip and ask them what their objectives are for traveling, and what they ultimately hope to get out of their trip. You want their travel experience to be as fulfilling and rewarding as possible. Have a conversation about how they’ll handle any challenges that may arise, and how they hope to have a changed perspective when they arrive back home. Having global and cultural experiences can help turn your teen into a well-rounded adult eventually.