Happy Kids, Inc: Preparing Your Children For Their First Trip Alone
Thursday, July 9, 2015

Preparing Your Children For Their First Trip Alone

By Meg Hodson

We have always been a traveling family. Whether it's road trips to the beach, flights to visit family in the Midwest, weddings in Las Vegas, or Disneyland, we've done a lot. My children are natural travelers and really enjoy it. 

My oldest child (my daughter, age 11) finished 5th grade this year. We had learned about an opportunity to go on an 11 day tour of Alaska with People To People Ambassador Programs. I myself had done a People To People trip in high school and I had fond memories of my trip to Europe. I was excited to look into this further for my daughter. 

Preparing Your Child For Their First Trip Alone

We ultimately decided she was ready for a trip like this. It was set to be a well-supervised tour and there were numerous meetings locally with the students going from the area. She couldn't wait for summer. She even did her own fundraising to pay for part of the trip and for spending money.

I am a firm believer that travel is a great way to learn. She is not back from her trip yet, but I can't wait to see and hear about her adventures. Her leader has a private group page set up for the parents, so we can follow along on their adventures. That has been wonderful!

Preparing Children For Their First Trip Alone

Preparing Children For Their First Trip Alone

As we prepared for her trip, I thought I would put together a list of some of the not-so-common items to check off as you get ready for a young child tp travel alone.
  • Pack An Extended First Aid Kit. Band-aids are a given, but I put together an extensive first aid kit so that my daughter would not have to worry about buying these things and so she was prepared, should she need something at odd hours, like the middle of the night. Her kit included: bandages, first aid ointment, eye drops, blister bandages, chewable ibuprofen (she knew to consult her leader first to confirm the dosage), chewable allergy medicine, arnica for sore muscles or light bruising, homeopathic night time sleeping aid, and ginger mints (for motion sickness).
  • Souvenir List. My daughter had requests from her brothers and from us about souvenirs we might like. I made a "Note" in her iPod that included some of the things we liked so she wouldn't forget. I also made a list of family members and friends and their addresses so she could send post cards. I bought post card stamps for her to have on hand. You could easily include this on the first page of a travel journal, too.
  • Credit Card Gift Card. Banks actually do have travelers checks still, but I just thought this would be a bit of a hassle for an 11 year old. Carrying a large amount of cash was not a good idea either. She was familiar with the process of a debit card, so I thought a credit card gift card would be perfect and teach her some budget responsibility, too. We pre-loaded it with a set amount and sent her with a little cash, too. As a gift, I also bought her a Starbucks gift card for some treats along the way.
  • Stay Charged Baby! I sent my daughter with a back-up portable USB charger to use for her iPod. She also has rechargeable batteries for her small camera. 
  • Snacks. With odd flights times and this trip promising LOTS of walking and sightseeing, I packed my daughter some snacks. I knew she could buy some along the way, too, but you never know when you will be rushed for time. I sent her with some granola bars, coconut chips, nuts, and dried fruit. Be sure to pack items that won't easily get crushed or melt.
  • Confidence. I know, I know, you can't pack confidence. But I assured my daughter that I knew she would be smart and make the right decisions on her trip. She had her leader to turn to as well. I ultimately said to "go with your gut", I know you will make the right decisions.

What tips can you share about preparing kids for their first trip?

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