Worried About Your Teenager Traveling Solo? Advice for Parents

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Every parent will tell you that their child is the most important thing in their life, and that they’d do anything to prevent them from harm.

How are parents supposed to act, then, when their teenage son/daughter announces their intention to travel the world on their own (i.e. solo)?

More and more young people are going abroad (usually on school trips or with a society/club they’re a member of) and are getting the taste for traveling.

Last year, my 16 year-old cousin traveled to Italy for two months with her school choir group. Despite her parents initially being worried about her traveling abroad without them (for the first time in her life), they were quickly reassured by the school that everything was planned well in advance and that they had nothing to worry about.

Friends on the grassAfter having such a great time in Italy, this year (now she’s 17) she wants to go back to Italy and travel on her own.

In my experience, I have found that most parents ask the same set of questions when confronted with the idea of letting their teenager go traveling.

I have compiled a list of these questions (with answers) with the aim of providing some insight into the differences (and the benefits) of traveling solo compared to traveling with your family or as part of a group.

Q: What are the benefits of teenagers traveling solo?

A: Independent travel (or ‘traveling on your own) has many benefits. It gives young people the time and space with which to grow in, and it helps them become more independent and responsible as they’ll constantly have to make decisions for themselves instead of relying on their parents. At times, traveling on your own can be tough.

Rising to this challenge (and similar challenges) will help develop a young person’s character and make them more self-reliant (which they’ll need to become once they finish school and the realities of life set in). While all this might sound a bit intimidating (like you’re throwing your child in at the deep end), you’ll be giving your teenager valuable life experiences and allowing them to see the world in new ways, experience new cultures and broaden their mind.

Q: Is it safe for teenagers to travel on their own?

A: As with most things in life, traveling brings risks and potential threats with it, and traveling on your own is going to bring a whole new set of safety issues. In general, how safe you are while traveling largely depends on how you travel and the things you do.

By planning your trip carefully in advance, by heeding travel warnings (by checking on the U.S. Department of State’s website) and by making yourself aware of any potential travel scams, your trip will be made considerably safer. It’s also important that you’ve got travel insurance, backed up all of your travel documents online and have some way of contacting home in an emergency. Of course there are things that can always go wrong, which is why teenagers (just like every other traveler) need to make sure they take the proper precautions.

Q: How can I make solo traveling safer for my son/daughter?

A: The first way to make a trip as safe as possible is to do as much research as you can beforehand and to plan every detail of the trip in advance. By creating an itinerary for your trip, your parents will be able to know where you’ll be and what you’re doing every day while you’re away.

Another way to make a trip safer is to travel with other people. Although this means it’ll no-longer be a ‘solo trip’, traveling with friends does actually have a lot of benefits (apart from the obvious ‘safety in numbers’). For example, having a companion (or multiple companions) ensures that you’ll always have someone to talk to when you’re bored, and that you’ll have someone to watch your bags for you when you go to the toilet.

Fountain of Trevi, Rome
Q: Is solo traveling much different for a girls and boys?

A: As you would expect, there are more potential dangers for teenage girls traveling than boys. As a female solo traveler, you’ll have to take more precautions, so it’s important you’re properly educated on these before you leave. Many parents will understandably not like the idea of their teenage daughter traveling on her own. I would advise against females traveling on their own if it is their first time abroad/traveling, as it’s often best to travel with friends/a group the first time. For more information on traveling as a solo female, check out this article.

Q: Will there be any logistical problems with traveling so young (i.e. under 18)?

A: As a teenager (or someone who is under the age of 18), you might find that there are some restrictions placed upon you when you decide to travel. These restrictions will primarily come from airlines and hotels.

Every airline has its own policy about unaccompanied minors (i.e. under 18’s) flying. Depending on your age you may need to be escorted by airline personnel or have a written note from your parents. For more information, check out this post on air travel for unaccompanied minors.

In regards to hotels, a lot of them require you to be 18+ years of age to stay there, so to work around this you’ll often need to work out all of your accommodation in advance or stay with friends/family.

Q: Where’s the best place for a solo teen traveler to visit?

A: This really depends on the person traveling (and what it is they want to see/experience). Obviously some places will be safer than others, and certain places will seem more preferable to you as a parent.

If you have extended family (cousins, etc.) in another city, it might be a good idea for them to visit there (or somewhere near there) so that they’ll still be near family in case of emergency.

Q: How should we get started on planning a solo trip?

A: When planning a trip, you first need to work out where you’re going to go, followed by how you’re going to get there and where you’re going to stay. Under 18’s will also need to research the logistical restrictions that may be placed on them (as I mentioned above). Teens should spend plenty of time planning their trip with their parents, ensuring that ever detail is accounted for.


Related posts:

  1. Parents: Is a Gap Year Spent Volunteering Good for Your Teenager?
  2. Why More Women Than Ever Are Traveling Solo
  3. Making Friends on the Road: Why Traveling Solo is Easier Than You Think
  4. 8 Ways to Deal with Loneliness When Traveling Solo
  5. Solo Travel – Five Rules to Live By




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