04 August 2016

Prepare your teenager for their first holiday alone

Now that final exams are over, many teenagers will be counting down the days to their first holiday with friends.

All parents worry about keeping their child safe as they become more independent. Foreign travel is often the first time that their children are away from home for an extended period of time.

By following our simple guide, you can make sure your child is well prepared and ready to enjoy their adventure, and hopefully you can also worry that little bit less.

Five tips to prepare your teenager for travelling alone

1. Talk through different scenarios

It won’t be possible to prepare your child for every eventuality, but you can ask them what they would do in unexpected situations, such as:


  • They lose their phone and wallet
  • Their current account card gets lost
  • Their accommodation is accidentally double-booked
  • Their flight is diverted or other travel plans are disrupted.

By talking though such events, you can discuss your child’s ‘Plan B’ for each situation, such as using Apple Pay or Android Pay™ if their card gets lost.

2. Make sure technology works for them

If your child is travelling to a country where they don’t speak the language, make sure they have a translation guide book or an app such as Google Translate or iTranslate, to help them.

If they plan to use their mobile, check that their mobile network provides coverage abroad and that they understand the roaming charges, so that they don’t come home to a large bill.

3. Prepare for the onward journey

It can be daunting to arrive in a foreign country without your parents for the first time, so why not offer to help your child arrange their onward travel in advance? Having a pre-agreed cost for train tickets or a taxi fare will also help them budget for the rest of their trip.

4. Be aware of local laws and customs

Your child may be allowed to drink alcohol in the UK, but make sure they're aware and respectful of local laws and customs. Remind them that local regulations will apply to them, even if they didn’t know about them!

5. Take care of the essentials

There are also some essential things to add to your child’s travel checklist.


  • Insurance
    Don’t assume your child will be automatically covered by your own travel insurance policy. Check with your provider to see which policy restrictions apply. For instance, if they're travelling as part of a group which is supervised by adults, they may be covered. But if they're travelling independently, they may need to organise separate cover.

  • Notify
    Your child should let their bank or building society know about their travel plans, as doing so will reduce the possibility of their cards being restricted while they're away.

  • Emergency Telephone numbers
    Make a note of emergency telephone numbers such as their travel insurance provider, bank or building society. It’s important to ensure their contact details are up to date so that their bank or building society can reach them if any suspicious activity occurs on their account.

  • EHIC
    They should also apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if they’re travelling to another European Economic Area (EEA) country or to Switzerland and this means they can access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay. They can also download the EHIC app which gives more details on where and how to use the card.

  • ATOL Protection
    When you’re booking the trip, you’ll want to make sure that the company is ATOL protected just in case it goes out of business before your child is due to travel, or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against travel to the country.

  • Important Documentation
    Whatever your child’s age, it’s a good idea to make copies of their important documents (passport, visa, hotel bookings and emergency numbers). Your child can save copies on their email account or cloud storage, but make sure that you have one too for peace of mind.

Did you know?

With Nationwide’s FlexOne current account, you can use your debit card and withdraw cash abroad without paying commission. FlexOne is our straightforward Current Account for teenagers and young people aged 11–17.

Apple is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the US and other countries. Apple Pay is a trademark of Apple Inc.

Android Pay is a trademark of Google Inc.

For more useful tips when travelling abroad visit Nationwide’s Travel Hub.

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