Youth travel has become one of the fastest growing segments in international tourism, reports the UN World Tourism Organization. Young people now represent over 23% of the over one billion tourists that choose to visit other countries as part of their cultural and social education. If your teen child or loved one is getting ready for their first trip abroad, it is vital to share a few tips to enable them to make the most of this unique experience. Below are just a few lessons and life skills they may benefit from before their plane takes off.
1. Be Safe
Paragliding in Chamonix, France
When your teen travels to various cities within their chosen destination, make sure they check in with you every time they arrive at a new city or town. Even if they remain in one main destination, make sure they call you at set times, so you know they are okay. Before leaving, encourage your teen to conduct research into the cities they are visiting. They should know which areas are safe and which are risky, so they can avoid the latter.
Above all, they should ensure that their hotel is in a safe spot and that the hotel itself is well reputed and secure. An extra safeguard they can adopt involves buying a jammer or door security lock (a portable device that slips under the door and boasts an impressive resistance to force). Your teen child or friend should make copies of all their documentation, which will come in handy in the event that they lose a passport or ID.
Finally, they should aim to behave discreetly and ‘blend in’ as much as possible so they do not attract the attention of pickpockets and other individuals who can take advantage of their newness to the area.
2. Stay Within Budget
Luxury watches in Geneva Switzerland
Around 31% of parents say they never talk to children about finances, and the result is that around 57% of adults today are considered ‘financially illiterate’. In other words, they know little about topics such as interest rates, mortgages, and general money management. Consider time spent teaching your teen financial literacy as a major investment in their future. A child who is traveling can benefit greatly from knowing factors such as money exchange, saving, finding cheaper alternatives to items they wish to buy, comparing transport combinations and accommodation options, sticking to a daily food/entertainment budget, and more.
3. Be Flexible
The Swiss Alps seen from the air
Things sometimes don’t go along to plan when you’re traveling and one of the biggest culprits is the weather. For instance, your teen may be excited about taking the legendary train journey to the Jungfraujoch (the highest train station in Europe) in Switzerland, but the weather may be so poor that visibility is nil.
Encourage your child to plan their itinerary well and to list alternative plans for every day of their visit. Thus, in this example, if the Jungfraujoch is an impossibility, your teen can still enjoy themselves by hiking along the Grosse Scheidegg (a trekker’s paradise), taking a cable ride to the Pfingstegg (overlooking a lush green valley and pretty cows grazing and clanging their bells), or visiting the Gletscherschlucht (a dramatic, highly Instagrammable ravine).
Can Teenagers Travel?
Teen travel is on the rise, which is good news for youths wishing to broaden their horizons. If your teen is set to travel soon, make sure they prioritize safety. They should also learn to manage their money and have loads of alternative plans so that every day is chock-full of activities and new adventures.
About the author: Charly Morris is a passionate traveler and freelance writer. She tries to visit as many different locations as possible every year and is proud to have visited every continent on the planet.