The holidays are coming and along with them, the perspective of your kids going away for vacation without you! A real rite of passage, this step requires anticipation to make sure it goes smoothly.
When are kids ready to travel on their own?
Only you can judge if your children are mature enough to travel alone… Before you start going into logistics, your responsibility is to decide how much they can manage on their own: finding an adult in case of an emergency, being autonomous regarding their basic needs (food, sleep, etc.), their emotions… It’s almost impossible to define a minimum age! However, it is useful to know that most airlines, as well as the SNCF (French public train company) welcome minors travelling alone from the age of 4.
Before departure: certain formalities
There it is, you’ve decided to let Junior get on a plane or a train alone to go to his grandparents’ house. On a plane, unaccompanied minors will make sure they keep a little pouch with them at all times, in which they can find:
- Their plane tickets
- A subscription form that you filled out when you booked the ticket, with your kid’s identity information, medical record, age and the name and contact information of the person picking him/her up on arrival.
Also make sure that your kid keeps his/her id within reach (without risking theft), as well as a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), that can be very useful in case of an emergency.
You can also sign up for an assistance service: an agent will take care of your kid during the entire journey. Sometimes, this service is mandatory, depending on the airline and the child’s age.
This kind of service is also offered on trains, when your kid is between 4 and 14 years old.
Whatever means of transportation you choose, get your child a Weenect Kids GPS tracker, that will allow him/her to get in touch with you in case of a problem: technical problem, delay, etc.
During the trip: make sure they’re comfortable!
Train companies and airlines generally offer coloring books for young travelers; but it’s not always enough to keep them busy for the entire trip! Pack a little bag with your kid’s books, portable console or tablet. Don’t forget to include batteries and charging cables! Let your kid take a cuddly toy, even when they seem too old for this: the first trip alone can bring anxiety and a comforter may help. If you kid is under medical treatment, explain when and how he/she should take the medication (or make sure he/she can explain it to an adult).
Finally, don’t forget the little bonuses that matter a lot in these circumstances: earplugs for take-off and landing, a few pieces of candy slid in a pocket, a little torch, a blanket, a pair of warm and soft socks, an inflatable pillow, etc. Anything that can improve their comfort will be highly appreciated!
The first plane or train trip on their own is a big adventure! Praise your kid for taking this opportunity to gain autonomy, especially if he/she shows signs of anxiety concerning the trip. And on your side, try not to show any stress: just like all parents, you’ll be challenged by your emotions, but you should trust your kid!