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Most people have heard the heart-wrenching story of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway during her summer trip to the Caribbean after her high school graduation. And, regardless of how tragic the story was, students around the nation will continue to travel abroad for vacation. As a parent, it would be hard to let either of my two young daughters travel on their own — but, at some point, I will have to let go.
For parents who, like me, want their children to grow up with a spirit of wanderlust but are still uncomfortable letting them out of sight, there is still hope. Read on for some safety advice for teens and tweens traveling out of the country — with their parents or without.
1. Take the first STEP. Travelers heading abroad can enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The program is open to U.S. citizens who are traveling to or living in a foreign country. It allows them to enter information about their trip so that the State Department can better assist them in an emergency.
2. Be prepared. Review the steps your children should take in an emergency. Whether they are traveling alone or just going out for a night on the town, go over important information such as where the local embassy is located, how to get around safely and who they can call in an emergency.
3. Travel insurance. You wouldn’t let your children drive around without car insurance, so you probably shouldn’t let them travel without some type of coverage either. Not only does it cover trip cancellation and lost items, but insurance can provide much-needed health services and resources for families while abroad.
4. Follow the rules. Teens often think that they are above the rules, but remind them that they should respect the culture, customs and, most importantly, the laws of the country that they are visiting. www.studentsabroad.state.gov
"I recommend Alisal Ranch, which is always very family-friendly, and Catalina Island is a great close-to-home destination for West Coast families."— Jason Coleman, travel agent
“My family has done both Disney World and a Disney cruise, and we loved them both. We are still planning this year’s trip.”— Darcy Spencer Ure, mother of six
Are your clients concerned about safety for their teens and tweens when booking a spring vacation?50% Yes, safety is a top priority33% Only for certain destinations17% No, families will book regardless