Advice for the parents and family of travellers
A few tips and advice for parents and family of travellers. Being prepared will make their life easier, help to keep them safe and put your mind at ease.
If your son/daughter or family member is going travelling you can often find yourself with mixed emotions about the situation. On the one hand you’re elated that they will be having the time of their life but on the other you’re worried about their safety and well-being. It’s only natural and nothing we can say will stop you from worrying a little but be safe in knowing if you read our advice and discuss it with the person going travelling it will help to put your mind at rest a little. If you have any more questions please feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The amazing people they meet, once in a lifetime experiences they have and the different cultures and ways of life they immerse themselves in, will far outweigh the potential risks. Travelling opens your eyes, offers life experience like no other and shows you that there’s a massive world out there just waiting to be explored. The more you travel, the more you have the urge to travel again. We’re afraid the real worry you'll have, is that they love it so much they never come back!
Ask which countries they’ll be going to and check the NHS vaccination info well in advance to check they have had the relevant jabs prior to travelling. Make sure they have enough of their medication, contraception and contact lenses, as it can be difficult to get hold of these essentials overseas. Check that their medication is allowed into the country they are visiting and clearly labelled. Don't forget sunscreen and bug spray!
Click here to check which vaccinations are needed for each country NHS Fit for travel
Make sure they’ve informed the bank which countries they’ll be visiting so the card doesn’t get blocked. Ideally they should always have 2 cards. These can be a mix of debit card, travel cards or a credit card as a backup and save them in different compartments. Sometimes cards can get blocked or don’t work so you always need a plan B especially if you’re travelling solo. Get some local currency beforehand or check if USD are easier to change on arrival because this is the case with some countries especially South America. Suggest saving money in 2 different compartments as a back-up. Drawing out currency in the airport is a safe bet as you can trust the card machines more not to clone your card but don’t carry too much cash at any one time.
Documents and itinerary
Firstly, make sure they have a passport and it’s well in date, with at least 6 months of validity on it. Then make sure you take a copy of their passport and any travel documents such as visas, yellow fever certificate, insurance and flight information. It’s good to have a copy on email as well in case they need you to forward them a copy. You should also keep details of their bank and bank cards, just in case they need it cancelling, or if you need to transfer them any emergency money. It’s good to write down a basic idea of the itinerary even if they don’t have specific flight/bus dates so at least you have a rough idea of the plan… even if it’s just to tell friends and family when they ask where in the world they will be going!
They need to pack as light as possible so make sure they take only what they need. It’s highly likely they will have to walk with their rucksacks and be lifting it on and off of buses or into lockers in hostels. Remind them they can wash their clothes at hostels or laundrettes every couple of days. Here are some items that will make their travelling lives easier:
- Microfibre travel towel- it’s light weight, anti-bacterial, quick drying and packs down really small.
- USB worldwide travel adapter- can be used in over 150 countries, it means they only need one adapter for wherever they go and can charge more than one device at once.
- Front loading rucksack- please tell them not to get a top loading rucksack! A front-loading rucksack has a zip on the front like a suitcase and will make their life so much easier so they’re not digging around in their bag in the dark! (That’s unless they’re borrowing an old one from friends or family of course.)
- Reusable water bottle- we’re as much about saving money as we are about saving the planet so make sure they have a water bottle to refill instead of buying bottled water. Most hostels and airports have safe drinking water stations. Ours has a carabiner so it can be clipped onto the bag if they're short on space.
You can never be too careful when travelling. Try not to be the stressed, worried parent but it’s always good to readdress this to whoever is going travelling. Sometimes you’re just the unlucky one, but mainly it’s about having your wits about you and keeping valuables safe or where you can see them.
Check the government website to see whether it’s safe to travel and if it’s safe for solo or female travellers to walk about alone or at night. Some places are as safe or safer than the UK but just read up on the destination beforehand.
Click here for foreign travel advice, entry requirements and that the country is safe to travel to Government foreign travel advice
- Travel wallet- this is a great buy as it means they can keep their passport, money and phone on them at all times and hidden under their clothing. This is especially useful on public transport and night buses/trains where they will be sleeping.
- Combination Padlock- or 2 to be on the safe side. A combination lock is better than a key because there’s a chance they might lose the key. Locks are used to lock up valuables and luggage in the hostel. They also need one for their rucksacks when walking about in the streets to deter thieves. Some countries are safer than others but thieves can operate in any country or area so a lock on a rucksack will naturally put them off trying.
- Beach towel with a hidden pocket- sadly theft often takes place at the beach so we have designed a beach towel with a hidden zip pocket to stash your money or hostel/hotel key. No need to lose change in the sand anymore! Tell them not to take valuables or go in the sea and leave any bags unattended.
- First aid kit- we’d always recommend having one of these with the essentials: plasters, paracetamols, anti-diarrhea, bandages etc. You can never be too prepared.
Money saving tips
- Don’t be scared into thinking they need to book a trip for everywhere they go. For example, a travel agent would say you need to book Machu Picchu in advance however there are an abundance of travel and tour agents when you get there so you can book when you arrive and it’s a lot cheaper. However, when travelling to certain remote places or if time is limited then we would often recommend booking a trip/tour in advance so they don’t miss out.
- Staying in hostels is cheap and a great way to meet people and if they book through hostel world, they have backpacker reviews and you can be safe in knowing there will be other backpackers staying there. Staying in hostels is a much cheaper way to meet people than booking a group organised tour through a travel agent. That being said if it’s their first time, they’re nervous of going alone and have money to spend then a tour group would be a great option. We’d recommend this at least just for the first week or two to get them into the swing of things. This way they would know they were being collected from the airport at the other side and guaranteed to meet fellow travellers. Don’t pre plan the entire trip though because it will be expensive. Plus, they will meet people and hear about different places or adventures along the way. Being flexible is the best option as it could spoil your travelling if you miss out on things or can’t go with your new travel buddies.
- Filling out visa and immigration info is easy enough to do yourself so don’t let agents tell you otherwise. For example, the Australian visa is just an online application and doesn’t take long at all, some companies make out it’s difficult so you pay them but trust us it’s easy!
Just remember that our help and advice cover the worst-case scenarios when travelling and we link to the government website for up to date safety and health recommendations which we would advise you to read. Being aware and educated on the potential risks, prepared with the right gear and having their wits about them will help to keep them as safe as possible. A lot of it is common sense, travellers look out for each other and just remind them not to get complacent and let their guard down.
Make sure they travel safe, travel educated and aware. Most of all though, please make sure they travel!
For a more detailed list please check out our ultimate travel checklist
Happy and safe travels,