Traveling as a minor, particularly an unaccompanied one can be quite a scary sounding concept for parents to grasp and its understandable why they would refute such an experience, as a teen or preteen, travelling alone can be just as enriching as it can be imperilling.
We will discuss how to better organize the whole journey for your child and substantially minimize the chances of them getting into undesirable situations.
For a minor abroad, safety is a very important thing, for teens and preteens who are under 15, its better to check them in at your chosen airline as unaccompanied minors, this will help lay emphasis on them being cautious from the get-go.
Chances are you’ll have to book your minor’s ticket directly or get it with a travel agent, it is also imperative you review the policies relating to unaccompanied minors for your chosen airline as well as to take into account any guidelines or restrictions regarding your child, if they fall into your airline’s defined age range for minors.
Alternatively, you can call your airline personnel to ask them questions regarding unaccompanied minors, If they don’t fall into the age range then consider checking out another airline.
If possible, It’s also advisable to book a non-stop flight, otherwise a direct flight would be another good choice because although there might be a few stops. You won’t worry about your child having to switch to another flight en route, See if your chosen airline can make an escort pass available to you so you can check in with your child minutes before their departure.
Usually for children under 5-12, airlines would be expecting an adult to be at the destination airport to receive the child.
Once the flight has taken off, You should contact the arriving airport at least two hours prior to your child’s plane landing to help them identify and confirm the designated adult with which the airline personnel will hand your child over to after landing.
You may refer to child’s flight arrival time to be sure when your child will arrive at the destination and be sure to notify your designated adult about the child’s coming upon flight take off too.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some airlines will charge a higher fee for unaccompanied minors and the services involved, you should also see to your airline’s guidelines for releasing minors to an adult.
Consider doing some research on the destination, with this you can prepare your child for blending in with the locals so as to not attract attention to themselves.
Side note: Look into teen tour operators.
A teen tour operator is a company dedicated to helping young children learn more about their destination with organized tours. Some popular teen tour operators include Travel for teens and west coast connections.
Some other things for your child to note are:
• keeping bags facing front as opposed to back where some items can get easily swapped
• Avoid going to the residence of anyone you meet
• Avoid taking car rides from strangers
• Avoid telling someone where you stay
• Staying in well lit areas at night
• Locking doors at night
• Keeping distance from foreign nightlife environments
Pro tip: Be wary of minor limits.
When booking hotels or hostels, be sure to see if they accept minors of your child’s age to prevent your child from having to look for another place to stay after a long flight.
Networking with a known local like an aunt or cousin prior to your child’s departure can be helpful if possible, during the planning phase, you may also make a list of the flight information, where your child will staying, any booked activities along with any useful information in the event of needing such details.
You may purchase a travel insurance for your child as it may be helpful in the event of lost luggage or any unforeseen medical issues arising, a travel insurance can come in handy here.
2- Making adequate preparations.
Making the proper preparations prior to your child’s departure is quintessential in ensuring the whole travel process is streamlined, be sure to make a list as to all the things you need to take care of like:
• Acquiring any of the child’s documents
• Getting notarized consent if needed
• Schedules and bookings to make on or before the departure date
Side note: Prepare the documents.
Be sure to get things like your child’s birth certificate and passport ready, your identification card along with your address, your phone number and the name, address and phone number of the designated adult to receive your child. You may also want to get a copy for your child’s passport in case it gets stolen.
Please note that some countries will also require a notarized consent for your child travelling without both parents, its advised to review your child destination’s specific laws on unaccompanied minors.
In some cases, your child might require a Visa for their destination, if so then endeavour to get the Visa in advance if possible to prevent any unnecessary hassle on your child’s part upon arrival.
Other things your child should keep include:
• Some contacts like yours and the designated adult if for some reason the child cant use their phone.
• A sufficient amount of cash or traveler’s check
• Documents for travel insurance purchased
• Any personal medications that may be needed
Pro tip: Sort out any medical details.
Its unlikely that the airline personnel would wanna dive deep into your child’s medical intricacies if any, so check in with a doctor to make sure they’re all good to go.
On departure day, Arrive at least an hour before the flight, two for international flights to ensure you have enough time for all the documents to be processed.
You should then check in at the airline ticket counter rather than the self-service electronic kiosk. Chances are, your child will be adorned with some form of identification item to make the escort process easier for the flight attendants.
Typically, a service fee is paid during the check in process along with your provision of details about the designated adult and the obtaining of a gate (escort) pass.
3- Communication is key.
When it comes to a travel experience involving an unaccompanied minor, you definitely wanna take some time out to talk to them about some of the processes they would go through at the airport as well as the potential dangers of negligence in a foreign country.
Side note: Include the child.
When making plans, have them pay attention and maybe even make suggestions on the destination, this will help them stay focused.
Pro tip: Make flash quizzes.
A great idea is to organize some recurring quizzes about different travel situations and how they can deal with them. Be sure to setup plans with your child on how they should give you continual updates of their time abroad.
Taking your child on adventures at an early stage will help them become more travel savvy and adventurous. Keep calm and enjoy your travels.