Prepare your children to travel alone

Traveling alone can be an exciting and fun experience for your child. It can also help enhance their problem solving skills, boost their confidence, and reward them with a greater sense of independence. When the time comes for your kid to travel to grandma’s house solo, here’s how to make their journey a success.

Before Your Child’s Trip

As you and your child are gearing up for the big day, use these tips to help them understand what to expect while traveling.

1. Walk through the day of travel.
Explain to your child what they can expect throughout their day of travel. Encourage them to ask questions and express any fears they might have about traveling alone. If your child’s trip includes a layover, reassure them a transportation professional will help them find their next plane, train, or bus.

2. Visit the departure location.
Visit the airport, train depot or bus station your child will depart from. Show them where they’ll check in, go through security, and wait in the boarding area. Introduce your child to a few security or transportation personnel so they feel comfortable contacting one of them if necessary.

3. Role play and talk about “what ifs.”
Talking about possible scenarios, and playing them out together, can boost your child’s confidence and help them stay safe. Role play things like conversations with other travelers, so your child knows what they can and can’t discuss. You’ll also want to address issues that may arise, such as what to do if their flight is cancelled, if they lose their cellphone, etc.

4. Decide what to pack in their carry on.
Your child’s carry on should contain the basics, like any medications they need, toiletries, and a few snacks. But it should also be packed with things to keep them busy and entertained during their travels, like books, drawing materials, or electronics. Also include an item or two to help them feel secure, such as family pictures or their favorite stuffed animal. Ask your child to help you pack their carry on so you’re sure it contains what they need, as well as what they want.

The Day of Travel

A good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast will get your child’s day of traveling off to a great start. Here are more ways to ensure their day is a positive one.

1. Charge electronics.
Make sure your child’s cellphone and any other devices are fully charged before they head out and don’t forget to pack charging cables in their carry on. If your child isn’t accustomed to using a cellphone, now is the time to review how to operate it, if they’re taking one.

2. Have your child wear a safety device.
Your child may feel less apprehensive about traveling alone if they wear a tracking device that can help them be found if they get lost. These devices are available in a variety of styles and price points, making them suitable for any age child and budget.

3. Tag luggage.
Your child’s carry on and checked bags should have luggage tags with their name, your name, address, and phone number. For safety’s sake, use a luggage tag that hides this information from strangers.

4. Verify that your child knows who is meeting them.
Depending on your child’s age and needs, transportation personnel may or may not help them find the person meeting them at their destination. Either way, it’s important to remind your child who will pick them up and where they’ll meet. If it’s been a while since your child has seen this person, have your child carry an up to date picture of the person with them.

5. Review dos and don’ts.
Before your child leaves your side remind them one last time about the dos and don’ts of traveling alone. This includes everything from keeping close tabs on their bag to what is considered appropriate conversation with other travelers.

It’s understandable your child may feel a bit uneasy about traveling alone, but taking these steps to prepare for the big day can go a long way toward revealing their anxieties and make the experience enjoyable.

Written by Alexia Chianis

Wanderlust junky and mom of two, Alexia is a former police officer and U.S. Army Captain who draws on her experiences to write about a myriad of safety topics. Learn more

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