It is your child’s first trip abroad or in a holiday camp: you are obviously concerned about how you’re going to communicate with him/her. Let’s see what your options are.
Different means of communication
Whether your child’s trip is organized by his/her school or by a specialized agency, there will always be a way to get in touch.
The voice server: probably the most archaic and outdated system, yet still very popular! The trip supervisor records a voice message, available for all parents via a dedicated number. This method, however “old school”, has the great advantage of being accessible no matter what sort of phone equipment you use. Of course, the downside is that you don’t get a chance to talk to your children directly.
The blog, Facebook page or Youtube channel: blogs, pages or private and secure channels can be useful to share trip events with the parents! They are handy and allow to add pictures of the trip. Facebook also provides a chat feature, that you can use to have an actual conversation; but it requires that both you and your child are familiar with technology and written conversation…
Letters: good old snail mail is not dead! A lot of travel agencies and teachers still insist on the educational benefits of the written letter that recounts the adventures of the trip with many details. One major interest: those memories will remain!
About the telephone
The means of communication listed above may seem a little outdated or inadequate. It is probably because mobile phones have now become the go-to media in our daily communication, even for young children. Nowadays, most children leaving for a trip abroad or a holiday camp have their own mobile phone. What stance should we take on this?
Education and entertainment professionals (camp supervisors, travel operators, teachers) agree on the fact that mobile phones can keep children from experimenting something essential: “cutting the cord” with their parents when they are not around to go to for any little trouble. Of course, they will feel homesick, or get into an argument with a friend or a foreign penpal. Supervisors observed that children’s first reaction was to call their parents to the rescue. The consequence often being that an insignificant event takes huge proportions and that children do not learn to manage problems by themselves. We all know that a trip abroad is not just about learning a new language, it is also the best way to acquire autonomy…
Of course, it seems impossible to ban mobile phones completely, and it is also very difficult to control the use of mobile phones when your child is hosted by another family. Therefore, be proactive:
Give your child a basic and easy-to-use mobile phone instead of the latest smartphone.
Choose a prepaid phone plan, without data access. It is not easy for children to measure their phone consumption, especially when you are not around to keep an eye on it.
Before they leave, set certain rules: time, reasons and frequency of the calls. The first trip abroad is often a source of anxiety for parents and for their children. But it is also, and more importantly, a great opportunity for them to “live their life” and manage on their own, far from their parents. Help them seize it!