Traveling is becoming more of a norm for younger generations. With ever-growing access to the rest of the world and fewer dangerous destinations, the world is unlocking itself to all of its residents.
Chances are that your older son or daughter is planning a trip, or at the very least thinking about one in the not-too-distant future. And as fun and exciting as a prolonged trip away is, there is hard work to put into it both before and during. It should be an enriching and exciting experience, but with enough forethought so that potential hazards or issues are minimized.
Having traveled for over seven months now, and as a relatively young person myself, here are the top tips for preparing for traveling to keep my trip as smooth as possible!
1. Make Sure Passports Are In Date For The Whole Trip
First and foremost! Passports must have a minimum of six months left in order to fly to pretty much anywhere in the world. That includes at the end of a trip to fly home. Make sure that your child’s documents are in order well before they even consider booking any flights. Passports must also be in decent condition. This is rarely cheap, but ripped and bent out of shape passports will not be accepted by an awful lot of border agents in countries right across the world, and your child will be refused travel. The same applies to passports with writing or pen lines where they shouldn’t be or overly dirty passports.
A good buy to keep passports and other documents in shape as well as being as safe as possible from pickpockets is a neck pouch. I’ve carried one with me for my whole trip so far, and my passport is still as shiny as the day I left.
2. Research Visa Requirements For Each Country
Depending on your child’s nationality and where in the world they are traveling to, they may require visas and will almost definitely only be allowed to spend a finite amount of time in a country before illegally overstaying their welcome. Ensure that all countries on your son or daughter’s itinerary have been researched for requirements and stay limits, specific to your child’s nationality. This can be done with online searches of official government websites, or in embassies. If your child does need a visa for travel, make sure it has been applied for, paid for, and accepted before any expensive flights are booked.
As a Briton, for example, I’d need a visa to fly into the U.S.A, which is a fairly simple online form to fill out, and whether I am accepted depends on a few factors set out by the U.S.’s Homeland Security. For Colombia, however, I don’t need a visa, I just need to make sure that I leave the country 90 days after the date that my passport is stamped.
3. Set A Travel Budget
Make sure your child has a travel budget planned per day/week, and understands the problems that overspending can cause when out in a foreign country. To get the best grasp on how much is an acceptable amount to take on a trip requires fairly deep research into the average costs of a certain area in which your child will be staying. In Mexico alone for example, one area of the country can cost upwards of $25 per night for a hotel or hostel, whereas other areas can be as little as $8 per night. Don’t just assume that if one part of a country is a certain price, all other areas will follow suit.
Things to research and budget for traveling include; accommodation per night, per area, food and drink; both eating out and cooking in a hostel, local transport costs, and the cost of any specific sights or tours they want to go and check out. Once all this is calculated, you can get a rough idea of what the overall cost of a trip will be, and on top of this, there should always be an emergency fund for if there is any underestimation.
4. Don’t Blow All Your Money On …. Booze.
Granted having a drink or two, (if you’re of legal age in the country you’re visiting) with fellow travelers is a huge part of the experience but please do so responsibly. Getting to know people around a local beer or spirit helps to unlock boundaries that we all sometimes put up. Having said that, it by no means should mean that every night should be spent drinking. Even when local liquor is cheap, it still runs up a huge cost in the long run, and it can also end up completely wiping out your next day, which, once in a while is all well and good, but to do it every day just means missing out on the sights and sounds around the area which were the reasons for traveling there. I’ve met a few travelers who’ve spent their whole trip just drinking and partying, and have ultimately ended up regretting it. By all means, if you have to, please drink responsibly.
5. Get Travel Cash Or Travel Cash Cards
Plan ahead for how your child will manage their money. If their trip is only a few weeks long, travel cash may be a perfectly fine and hassle-free option, but for traveling upwards of a month or more, my tip would be to take travel cash cards. You load them up, they usually have far better rates than using a debit card and often even a credit card, and unlike a credit card they can’t be overspent on. Whatever is in them is whatever is available, nothing more. They can also be topped up from anywhere in the world online, so if your child either runs out of money or needs a bit extra for a once in a lifetime tour, you have the security of knowing you can send a little parachute across to them.
Depending on where your child is thinking of traveling, it’s more than likely there may be necessary and recommended vaccines for entering a country or area. Myself and many other travelers I have met had to get a number of vaccines before starting our trips. To find out which your son or daughter may need, visit your family doctor or nurse, or a travel clinic if you have one close by.
7. Organize a travel itinerary
A big part of the fun of travel is the freedom to pick and choose your next destination on the fly. Having said that, it doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some sort of written itinerary of where your child is planning on visiting. These days, it’s very simple to communicate from abroad, with WiFi being readily available in a vast amount of accommodations or public spaces around the world, meaning that your son or daughter can discuss changes in the plan with you as they go. But at least for a rough idea as to the start of a journey, you should have some idea where your child is planning on traveling to.
8. Back up and copy important documents
I have hard copies of passports, insurance, evidence of vaccines, and other ID and documents that I may need to produce if I come to the misfortune of losing anything. As well as this, I have soft copies on a cloud drive, just in case I happen to lose my hard copies. Your child should definitely have both of these, as well as a location for you to access them in case of necessity.
9. Buy appropriate clothing
Whether visiting sunny climes or rainforests, your child needs appropriate clothing. I spent five months in Central America where the temperatures rarely dipped below 28 Celsius (82.4 Fahrenheit), but wanted to climb Acatenango in Guatemala where at night the temperature can drop to freezing. So I knew that despite it not being needed for most of the trip, I’d need some layers and warm clothes for at least one activity. So long as the extremes of the trip are covered, the climates in between will be too.
Hiking Acatenango Volcano
10. Research Best Travel Apps
The 21st century has brought about changes which have transformed the ease of traveling and communicating. Smartphone apps are perhaps the biggest and most important article in a modern traveler’s arsenal. Whether its maps that can be used offline, such as Maps.me, or simple, free via WiFi messenger and call apps like Whatsapp, there are a whole host of tools which can be utilized for smooth traveling. Apps can make traveling cheaper, and there are even family locator apps which will let you know exactly where your child is while they’re on their trip thanks to GPS. Conduct some research with your son or daughter about what apps are out there that can aid them and yourselves on their maiden voyage.
Hostelworld Booking and Review App
To travel is to be carefree, wonder at the world, and learn all of its secrets, but to be truly carefree involves making sure the bases are first covered. It’s much like life; shelter, food, safety, and getting from a to b. Once all of that is configured, the rest is what each individual makes of it.