Tweens travel alone to visit family and friends, to go to summer camp or for special events. Whether flying solo or traveling with a group, knowing how to prepare your tween will make their trip go well. Learn the rules of flying as an unaccompanied minor, what safety issues to cover, what to pack and how to prevent home sickness.
My tween traveled to Kansas to visit her sister and brother-in-law this summer. Although she took a road trip with them, this is her first time traveling without me and her father. She is an anxious child and likes to maintain a routine, has health problems and is a picky eater. Preparing her to travel alone took time and lots of assurance.
Have a Discussion with Your Tween
When preparing your tween to travel solo, don’t make the decision alone, talk it over with him first. Let him guide you about his level of comfort. If your tween is shy and finds it difficult to speak up about problems or ask questions, traveling alone may not work out. It doesn’t matter if he is visiting his grandparents who helped raise him or his best friend who just moved away. He just isn’t ready yet.
Learn the Rules
The rules for flying as an unaccompanied minor vary by airline and the services offered vary too. A fee is charged each way and sometimes connecting flights are not allowed. An adult must be there to pick up the minor and identification will be checked. When traveling with a group or to a group event, you will most likely sign paperwork allowing someone to be responsible for emergency health care, doctor visits, etc. But if your tween is visiting her someone, send along a notarized medical consent form.
Teach Safety Issues
Although you’ve been teaching your tween about stranger danger and other safety issues, it’s helpful to go over some of these rules again. Discuss some scenarios that might occur, both positive and negative. Talk about the importance of keeping money in a safe place, about not sharing personal information, and about seeking help even if it is about an uncomfortable situation.
What to Pack
Besides the normal clothing and boredom busters, pack a cell phone, spending money, a list of phone numbers (in case of a lost mobile phone), medications, a camera, and some type of photo ID (a student card, passport, safety card or travel id).
How to Prevent Homesickness
Easier said than done with some tweens, but phone calls or texting can prevent homesickness especially if you stay positive. Sending a care package or letters may work. Speak to the adult who is caring for your tween first because too much interaction can create homesickness or make it worse.
My tween daughter is having the time of her life even though this is her first time traveling alone! She’s busy doing new things, playing with new friends, and seeing new sites. I prepared her well.
Has your tween traveled alone? How did he or she feel about it?
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