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5 things to remember when your child is going abroad with school

5th August 2017

A few weeks ago Garreth visited France with his school.  It was the experience of his lifetime because it was his first time abroad.  It was also an experience for me.  Quite an experience.  I had so much to think about before he left home.  None of us, except Garreth, had a valid passport.  I haven’t left the UK in 15 years, for Jim it’s even longer.  I didn’t know where to start.

Here are 5 things to think about and remember when your child travels abroad… without you.

Make sure they have a valid passport.

Your child can’t leave the country without a valid passport, obviously.  If they don’t have a passport make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to get one.  It can be like jumping through hoops half the time.  I was born after 1982, as a result I needed a whole host of documents to prove UK citizenship.  Give yourself time to get it wrong although I recommend using the Post Office’s Check & Send service.  It can save time despite costing extra.  If your child already has a passport make sure it has plenty of time remaining before it expires. 

Have a chat with other parents.

Chances are, the other parents feel the same anxieties as you do (unless they have experience in sending their kids on holiday without them).  It’s always nice to know you’re not alone in your fears.  The other reason behind chatting to other parents is to check facts.  Checking things like the amount of money they should take; how many outfits they are packing and perhaps more importantly in the era of mobile phones, who is taking the all important travel adapter plug.

Don’t pack the bag too soon.

If your child is anywhere near as excited as Garreth was, the bag will be packed, unpacked, packed and unpacked several times.  I made the initial packing list, but Garreth followed it up and then continued to make lists of his own.  Everything he could potentially need (particularly in Zombie Apocalypse) was written on the list.  It was unpacked and repacked twice the one day. 
We almost forgot pyjamas until Nanny helpfully pointed out that he needed them.  Luckily, on the day, we didn’t forget anything.

Don’t forget international roaming.

Yep, mobile phones go everywhere with the kids of today.  Even abroad on school trips.  Garreth has a call package which includes free international calls, texts and data.  I didn’t even expect to need to turn it on.  He spent the best part of 48 hours unable to let me know he was okay.  I quickly managed to sort it out with a quick phone call to his network and he was able to make calls soon after. So, check that international roaming is turned on, both on the phone and with the network provider.

Finally, relax.

This trip is an incredible opportunity for your child.  They can spread their wings; learn important lessons about self-care, independent thinking and a freedom.  Yes, your heart may be beating way too quickly, you may feel sick at the very thought of the apron strings stretching so far, but your child will have an AMAZING time.  Garreth came home exhausted but happy.  He spoke enthusiastically about the patisserie, the theme park, the French way of life and all the fun things he got up to with his friends.  His favourite part of all was the ride on the ferry.

13 Comments

  • Reply
    Colette
    8th August 2017 at 11:57 pm

    The idea of letting my son on a foreign school trip seems so far away right now – far away and scary! I’m glad he had a good time and I’ll definitely keep your tips in mind for the future!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    8th August 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Some great tips. I can’t even begin to think about when the girls go away with school id be so nervous! It sounds like he had a great time

    • Reply
      Beth
      8th August 2017 at 9:50 pm

      He had a fab time to be honest. It’s scary when they do go but such a learning curve for them.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    7th August 2017 at 2:03 pm

    We only ever went on school trips to nearby museums – never somewhere as grand as France! What a lucky boy! 🙂

    • Reply
      Beth
      7th August 2017 at 11:30 pm

      I was never interested in going abroad when I was in secondary school… He is a lucky lad, but I’ve always said I want him to have the chance to participate in every opportunity.

  • Reply
    Sonia
    7th August 2017 at 11:10 am

    I don’t think I’d be able to relax lol! Thank goodness for mobile phones nowadays, when I went away when I was 11 we were only allowed to phone our parents once! It must have been awful for my mum x

    • Reply
      Beth
      7th August 2017 at 11:29 pm

      I’ll admit it, I didn’t really relax… I didn’t have complete panic but I wasn’t completely chilled out. I love the fact that we have more methods of communication nowadays.

  • Reply
    natalie dickinson
    7th August 2017 at 10:03 am

    So yeah…tip 1 – great tip… I would also add to that one “make sure your son doesn’t take his old expired passport” :-O My son went to France with school this year too, Got through customs fine on the way there…return trip they inspected a little closer and he had his old expired passport, like 3 years expired!! He was so upset and worried, and I felt so guilty! Somehow they let him through! Flip knows how, but was fine… embarrassed but fine! He goes skiing next March with school so I’ll be making doubly sure he has his latest passport with him then… eek. x

    • Reply
      Beth
      7th August 2017 at 11:25 pm

      Oh my, that’s definitely something I didn’t think of. How did you still have the expired passport?

  • Reply
    five little doves
    6th August 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Lewis went to Italy for ten days at Easter with school and I as a WRECK!! I just couldn’t cope with the thought of him going abroad without me and yet chatting to other parents really helped, that and date roaming! It was hard to relax until he was home though!

    • Reply
      Beth
      6th August 2017 at 11:02 pm

      I can identify with the wreck part. It is always hard to relax. I didn’t get that bit down until I had Garreth back in my car. Haha!

  • Reply
    Eva Katona
    6th August 2017 at 10:49 am

    This is yet to come, as my kids still small, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a mess at the first time. Very good list.

    • Reply
      Beth
      6th August 2017 at 11:01 pm

      Thank you… The time for you will indeed come. I never expected mine to but now that first one is out of the way, I’ll be a little more relaxed in future (I hope).

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