Would you think that I’m a terribly irresponsible parent if I told you I let my daughter travel alone when she was 15? The reason why is simple enough – I want her to grow up to be a strong, independent woman.
Yes, it can be a big bad world out there, and as a parent, we’re rightfully concerned about our children’s safety and wellbeing. So to protect our children, the last thing parents tend to extend to them is freedom. However, without freedom, our teens and preteens might never learn and grow. They need time and space to learn the life’s many lessons. We can help prepare them.
Why should teenagers travel alone?
Teenagers like independence and they also like being around people their own age. They don’t want their parents monitoring them all the time. Travelling is a tremendous growth experience. The exposure to new places, different people, and complex situations help in boosting one’s self-confidence. It thus brings about many learning opportunities that they can learn themselves or with their peers.
Exploring new places with unfamiliar faces, languages, and surroundings can help character-building. When teens travel alone, they become more vigilant and attentive, and they learn to face different challenging scenarios all by themselves. This experience develops resilience, patience, and confidence among teens.
Teaches them to be organised
During a family trip, parents are responsible for taking care of documents like visas, tickets, boarding passes, hotel cards, and parking tickets. When teens travel alone, these responsibilities fall on their shoulders.
They become stronger
Travelling can be stressful because of how you have to keep track of time and your luggage. The lone travelling experience teaches a teen the different ways to deal with anxiety which eventually makes them stronger.
Instills decision-making skills
When a teen is travelling alone, he or she has to make decisions for themselves. Parents aren’t around to give suggestions. This allows them to learn from their mistakes and also think of ways to rectify them.
Self-reliance is one of the key things we want our teenagers to learn. When teens travel alone or with a group of friends, they learn ways to survive and to rely upon themselves. They realise that their parents aren’t going to be around them always to resolve their problems. I know letting your teen travel on their own to explore the world around them isn’t an easy task, but do consider giving it a try. Of course, don’t let them head off to far-flung destinations right off the bat. Start by allowing your teen to travel to a place that falls within your ‘safety zone’. For instance, travelling to a city where you have family so in case of an emergency, there’s someone you know there.
Here are some essential tips to guide you in preparing yourself to let your teen travel alone:
Allow them to take some calculated risk
Everything isn’t in our control. Whenever our teens ask to go out either with their friends or alone, our personal fears can get in the way. The possibility of mishaps doesn’t diminish even if we were to travel with them. Try not to fret about whether they’ll drive recklessly, if someone else on the road might be reckless, or if the weather suddenly doesn’t seem ideal to be out and about. Let your teens take some calculated risks.
Help them plan
As a parent, we should take part in planning our teen’s solo trip. Research the geographical area they intend to visit and help them prepare for the issues they may encounter. For example, help them outline an itinerary, assist them in learning a few basic words in the native language, or help them develop a financial budget for the whole trip. Remember, as a parent, we can give them suggestions, but can never force them to stick to our suggested plan.
Have faith in your parenting
We must have faith in our parenting. It is scary to hand your child the reins of their precious life, but it has to be done, and the sooner the better. I trust that I’ve done my best in raising my children, and that no matter what hurdles come their way, they’ll get through it. We must keep in mind that we’re raising adults, not kids.
Set healthy expectations
Ever heard of the Pygmalion Effect? Well, it suggests that “You get what you expect.” So, let’s start to expect the best. An unfortunate characteristic of parenting culture is that we underestimate them. Instead, we must communicate to our children that we want them to be responsible young adults, to manage their liberties, to enjoy their lives fully, to take care of themselves, and to find their passions and follow them.
Stay in touch
Don’t expect your teen to call you every other minute and tell you about their location and activities. However, as a parent, we must be aware of their itineraries when they’re travelling alone. Luckily, we live in an era of technology, where we can keep track of our children without them requiring to constantly check in with us.
For this, I suggest you use a parental monitoring app, such as Xnspy, to track their current GPS location. It won’t even notify them that you’re watching. You can set virtual boundaries for your child and receive a notification if they enter a place they shouldn’t, like pubs, bars, and so on.
Bringing your child up in a bubble and then leaving them to face the real world without any prior experience is a mean thing to do. There’s a famous adage that goes, “We can give two things to our children: Roots and wings.” So, provide them the roots and allow them to use their wings to fly.