Got a kid heading abroad? More than a quarter million U.S college students studied abroad last year, and a new slew of kids will be heading overseas in the months to come. It can be a little unsettling, though, when your kid is halfway round the globe and you're wondering - is he OK? And how will I even know if he's not??
STA Travel, a student travel agency near Stanford, sent along a few excellent tips to help parents prepare and stop stressing (or at least, stress less). Here are their suggestions, along with some of mine:
- Make copies of your college kid's passport, credit cards, insurance etc. before he goes. (And I can definitely vouch for the importance of that one. I was chaperoning a teen travel group a couple of years ago when a 17-year-old lost her passport somewhere between Russia and Germany. Having a xerox copy of the passport made the panicky stop at the U.S. Embassy to get a new one issued a matter of hours, not days.)
- Get international travel insurance or make sure your child is covered by your own insurance policy. Don't just discuss what to do in a health emergency. Tsunamis happen. So do riots. Discuss evacuation scenarios and emergency contact details too.
- Speaking of which: Agree on when you'll communicate, and whether it will be by phone, Skype or Facebook.
- Warn the bank's fraud department: Your college kid needs to tell them that he's going abroad, so they don't freeze his account when charges start coming in from Barcelona.
- Get access to your college kid's account so you can transfer money more easily. And if that wretched child forgets to call home, his purchasing history will at least tell you he's alive. And whooping it up in Venice.