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Tips to Prepare Your Teenager For Their First Trip Abroad

Perhaps it’s been a dream of yours to take your teenager(s) with you on a European adventure, or you’re sending them abroad for the first time on a trip organized by their school or sports team. In any event, when you prepare to send your child abroad for the first time, it can lead to feelings of both excitement and nervousness, and of course, many questions. To prepare you and your teen for that first trip abroad, we’ve highlighted some important considerations to keep in mind before and during the trip.

Documentation

Depending on your province of residence, anyone under the age of 18 or 19 years old are considered children and need appropriate documentation to travel. The Government of Canada identifies the following as documents that may be required:

  • Canadian passport
  • Consent letter – confirming that the child has permission to travel abroad
  • Supporting identification – birth certificate, citizenship card
  • Other legal documents – such as divorce papers, custody court orders, or a death certificate (if one parent is deceased)

Some countries require that a passport be valid for at least six months before entering, and there’s no shortage of horror stories of travellers who’ve had to cancel or delay trips for this reason. It’s strongly advised that a passport be valid for longer than six months, but if that’s not possible, you’ll at least want to check the entry and exit requirements of each country they’ll be visiting.

Although a consent letter is not a legal requirement in Canada, it can simplify travel for Canadian children. The Government of Canada strongly recommends that Canadian children carry a consent letter if they are travelling abroad alone, with only one parent/guardian, with friends or relatives or with a group. The letter demonstrates that Canadian children have permission to travel abroad from parents or guardians who are not accompanying them. The letter may be requested by foreign immigration officials.

Finally, if your parenting arrangement is unique, it’s always advisable to talk to a lawyer about additional documentation that may be required or simplify entry and exit into foreign countries.

Spending Money

It’s important to know what is included with the trip to determine the amount of spending money required. A combination of cash, traveller’s cheques and credit cards are advisable to take along, and when carrying these around, a money belt is highly encouraged.

Because merchants pay commissions to credit card companies, local cafes and souvenir shops often prefer cash payments. Additionally, some merchants offer a discount for paying with cash or don’t accept credit cards at all.

If you’re not travelling with your teenager, it’s wise to provide them with a source of emergency funds such as a debit card or pre-paid credit card.

Packing

If your child is travelling without you, be sure that you understand what types of activities your child will be participating in and what the local climate is like so they pack accordingly. Most tour operators have a packing list, and it’s strongly advised to follow it as closely as you can. If it’s on the list, it’s there for a reason. After all, it would be incredibly upsetting to get to a museum or place of worship only to find out they’re denied entry due to not meeting the dress code. For example, entry to the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Gardens is permitted only to appropriately dressed visitors. Sleeveless clothing, shorts, miniskirts and hats are not allowed.

Many young travellers also tend to overpack, which quickly becomes a regret. If the trip includes lots of walking or multiple destinations, remind them that they’ll be required to carry their suitcases themselves, sometimes for quite long distances and to pack lightly!

Preventing Roaming Charges

Teenagers are notorious for being glued to their mobile device, so when they travel abroad for the first time, no doubt a frequent question will be, “excuse me, do you have Wi-Fi here?”

To prevent an outrageous bill from roaming charges, ensure that airplane mode is turned on before the departure flight and remains on until after their return. When they’re in a spot that has free or inexpensive Wi-Fi, such as a hotel or restaurant, they can manually re-enable Wi-Fi to connect to secure wireless spots.

Seeing new sights, eating new food, meeting new people and interacting with others in a different language are all part of the experience and excitement of foreign travel. However, taking in a new culture for the first time can be overwhelming, which is why many young, first time travellers prefer to travel with a reputable tour operator who can help them navigate their trip and take away some stress.

Remember, a first trip abroad alone is a big milestone for any teenager. The better prepared and supported they are, the more likely it they will come back with incredible memories than regrets.

About FarCloser Travel

Founded in 2016 by Natasha and Will Spokes, FarCloser Travel Inc. formed to do one thing: empower travellers. Travellers want choices, but often find themselves overwhelmed with the amount of information available. FarCloser Travel is a simple, convenient, platform that allows travel agents and travellers to research and compare professional tour packages and cruises. We provide factual, impartial results that allow visitors to easily compare and prioritize tours side by side, both on an interactive map and in a column view. With FarCloser Travel, travellers discover the trips they truly want, without the hassle of sorting through those they don’t. Learn more. 

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