So you’re sending your teenager off on their first trip without you. Maybe they’re travelling for some kind of school event, or spending some time with their cousins out of town, or going on a weekend trip with friends of the family.
If this is your first teenager, you’re probably hyperventilating a bit right now. Just breathe. It’s going to be okay.
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Alright, now down to business. How do you help them (and you) prepare for this trip?
Here is a checklist of some things you want to remember before they leave:
Gather as much information as possible about the trip
- Chaperones: Who are the chaperones and what are their their contact numbers?
- Transportation TO: What types of transportation are being used for the journey? What is the time and place of departure, and what is the arrival time at the destination?
- Accommodations: Where (exactly) are they staying?
- Food: Are meals being provided? Are there any meals your teenager will be responsible for themselves?
- Itinerary: What is the schedule for EACH day of the trip? The more details the better.
- Dress Code: If a dress code for any parts of the trip is specified, what is it? If not, look over the details of the schedule and think about what clothing would be needed.
- Clothing: Will there be an opportunity to wash clothes while on the trip? If so, this will affect your choices below under Packing the Suitcase.
- Equipment: Are there any items your teen is supposed to bring for the event? Perhaps a notepad and a pen for taking notes… a water bottle for a hike… sunglasses or sunblock for outdoor time?
- Transportation FROM: What is the return date and time, and what type of transportation is being used to get him or her home?
- It’s generally a good idea for travel clothes to be soft and comfortable. Comfortable shoes are important, too.
- Consider a “layered” outfit for travel, so your teen can easily adjust their outfit for warmer or cooler conditions.
- Don’t forget to plan the same type of outfit for the trip home.
Packing the Suitcase
- Personal care: toothbrush & toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, hair brush, deodorant; shaving supplies (if applicable), body wash, body lotion
- Medications (if any)
- Clothing (all cleaned and ironed)
- Underwear & socks: one set for each day of the trip (including the return trip)… PLUS ONE EXTRA
- Tops AND Bottoms: same as underwear and socks – one set for each day of the trip (including the return trip)… PLUS ONE EXTRA
- One set of pajamas (assuming a 3-5 day trip; may need more if a longer trip, or may not if washing clothes will be an option)
- One set of lounge clothes – after all the above outfits, it’s a good idea to just have one spare set of soft / comfy clothes to lounge around in
Backpack or Carry-on
- If needed, this is a good place to put a laptop / Chromebook and its charger
- Phone charger
- Notes & books (some can be packed into the suitcase). Audiobooks are great for travel, too. Maybe encourage your teen to keep a travel journal?
- Snack for the trip – something durable so it won’t get smashed up too bad in transit (a granola bar or fruit bar is a popular choice).
- Water for the trip – always good to stay hydrated. A quality water bottle helps.
- Chewing gum, mints, or something light like this is a good idea.
- Some type of credit / debit card is a good idea. Most drugstores have prepaid VISA/Mastercard cards which work well for these situations. This makes it easy to allot a budget, and can be used almost anywhere nowadays. Some prepaid cards are one-time use, and some are refillable; pick what is appropriate for your situation.
- Some cash. Just in case.
- Clearly communicate your expectations to your teen about when and how often they should contact you (or be contacted by you) during the trip.
- Be specific about WHEN you want to be contacted. “As soon as you arrive.” “Every day after lunch.” “Every night at 9PM.”
- Be specific about HOW you want to be contacted. Do you want to use texting, Whatsapp, phone calls, Facetime… or some combination of those methods?