When are your kids old enough to travel on their own?
Posted by: Sue Atkins
When is it safe to let your kids travel on their own?
As we near the time for starting Secondary School in September I’m discussing the Mum of 5 who let’s her children travel alone on BBC WM radio tonight at 10.30pm on The Graham Torrington Show http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d7hx
Here’s the story.
‘Why I still trust my children to travel alone’: Mother of five who is happy to let her young children go solo on planes, trains and buses (and the 11-year-old daughter who says the experience has made her stronger
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2715886/Meet-mother-five-happy-let-young-children-travel-abroad-planes-trains-buses-daughter-says-experience-stronger.html#ixzz39WqdrcuN
Here are some ideas to help.
Here are some things to ponder if you are thinking of allowing your child to fly, go by train or get on a bus by themselves.
I think there are many factors to consider when deciding whether travelling alone is appropriate for your child and certainly maturity is right up there for me as the first thing I would be thinking about. Are they confident travelling alone, are they responsible, are they able to ask questions and feel at ease on their own. Can they read signs and do they have a good sense of direction for left and right?
Can they easily contact you and know what to do if they make a mistake or get lost?
For many parents, the most overwhelming reason not to permit travelling over longer distances alone is safety. Even with strict regulations in place many parents are simply not comfortable allowing their children travelling among strangers.
Others worry that their child would be scared travelling alone on a plane if it suddenly hit turbulence, and even though there’s no immediate danger, it can be incredibly scary, especially to a child by themselves. So you should also consider the length of the flight, and whether it is direct or connecting if you are considering your child flying alone.
What Does Flying “Alone” Entail And What Other Rules and Regulations surround a child travelling without parents?
Of course, there is more to consider than just insurance when it comes to unaccompanied minors flying, there are plenty of rules that have to be adhered to by the airlines too.
Different carriers will have different rules that you have to follow if you are asking them to take your child on board without you. You would need to check the specifics with the airline you are using, but as a general guide:
Consider the minimum age.
Your child must be above five years of age before an airline will consider allowing them to travel without an adult accompanying them.
Services offered by airlines.
Airlines will usually offer a specific service for children between five and 12 years old, or for some it can be up to 15 years old. You must book your child on the flight with these services if one exists.
Check the rules for your destination.
The country that your child is travelling to may have different rules about how old your child can be to travel alone, so you need to check with the airline to ensure it is fine for your child to go to the country they need to without you.
Get them their own passport.
To travel independently of a parent or guardian, a passport in the child’s name is required.
The flight service must usually be booked at least 24 hours before your child it due to fly so arrangements can be made in good time.
Consider the additional cost.
You will need to pay extra for the service that provides someone from the airline to accompany your child.
Sort out the paperwork.
You are responsible for ensuring that all relevant documents are filled in and that your child has all of necessary paperwork to travel and be admitted to the country he or she is visiting.
If you need additional information about the particular service for the airline you are using, you should contact the customer services department before you make a booking. No matter what the rules are for the airline, you should make sure your child has insurance to cover everything they are doing while on their holiday abroad. Children flying alone are something that many airlines and insurers deal with differently, so always ensure you have the most suitable cover.
Here are also some practical tips for preparing your child for travelling alone.
Discuss Stranger Safety: It’s essential to discuss with your child the potential dangers of travelling alone and be very clear about stranger dangers and what your child should do to be safe.
Practice Runs: The more you go over what the journey will be like, the more comfortable your child will be during the real event. Make sure to do lots of pretend ‘ run throughs’ trips as well as real ones if they are travelling on a bus or a train to school for the first time. Do the journey with them a few times until they feel confident and relaxed. Go over a few possible upsets that could happen.
I remember my own daughter getting on the wrong bus from School and ending up in the completely wrong direction – her phone was nearly out of charge but she didn’t panic and worked out how to get back to the beginning of her journey again and started from school all over again – wiser and more attentive next time!
Most importantly make sure your child has money and their mobile phone. Make sure that your child has ALL phone numbers necessary, and a calling card that has a lot of prepaid minutes on it.
Gaining independence is a very necessary life skill that we give our kids – so don’t wrap them in Cotton Wool but do empower them to be safe and sensible !