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.
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.
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.