As Year 12’s begin the countdown to their end of year celebrations, schoolies travel expert Jot Lynas says now is the time for parents to take an active role in their teen’s holiday planning and preparation to ensure they have a safe and fun experience.
As CEO of Unleashed Travel, which offers chaperoned experiences at a designated ‘schoolies only’ destinations, Jot has extensive experience in ensuring students maximise fun during schoolies and minimise the potential dangers. “With some simple preventive measures, parents can ensure their teen’s trip is as enjoyable as it safe, and at the same time ease their own worries. I always encourage open dialogue between parents and teens as the very first place to begin,” he says.
With nearly 10,000 schoolies trips organised by Unleashed Travel, Jot shares his expertise to help both parents and school leavers make the most of the experience.
Tips for parents
1. Do your research: Google everything possible about the resort and travel provider that your teen has booked with. If you see any red flags, chat to your child about these concerns as a priority. Don’t forget to give a solution to any issue you raise as this is what you child will need to call upon if the time arises.
2. Confirm your trust: While you may have your doubts, confirming to your teen that you know they’re responsible and that you have high expectations of them will encourage them to try and keep this trust. Speaking openly and warmly will allow you to reach this place, rather than nagging, or enforcing your rules and expectations.
3. Talk to other parents: Remember that your teen is travelling with a group of friends, that means there are other parents in the same boat. Make the time to chat to these parents, find out if they’re on the same page as you and if they’ve also prepared their child. By all parents giving the same safety message you’re increasing the chances of the group listening.
4. Plan activities for you: The last thing you should be doing is sitting around wondering what your child is up to – it will drive you insane. Schedule a catch up with friends, plan to see a movie, or get out do something that you love. Either way make the most of your new-found free time!
5. Schedule updates: This is the chance for your teen to be independent so hounding them with phone calls every day won’t be received well. Communication doesn’t have to be via phone call – a text when they arrive followed by one scheduled quick chat midweek is enough. If you don’t hear from them on at the nominated time, then its ok to call and check all is ok.
Tips for school leavers
1. Make copies of everything: Getting caught up in having fun can make you careless with your belongings. Make copies of your passport, insurance policy, travel documents and credit card numbers and store a copy electronically e.g. in your email account, plus leave a copy with your parents. If something goes wrong, this ten minute step with save you significant time and possibly money.
2. Don’t leave anything out: Be honest and upfront with your parents about where you’re staying, who you’re going with and what you’ll be doing when you get there. The more information you can provide the more trust they’ll have in you.
3. Heading overseas? Know the rules: Some rules that don’t apply in Australia might be enforced in other countries, so make sure you are clued up on the law. What may seem like a minor issue to you may result in a huge penalty or even jail overseas, so don’t take any risks.
4. Ask about any payment ‘add-ons’ upfront: If your resort advises there are additional costs ask for them to be stipulated upfront. Also beware of in room services, these can really add up at the end of the holiday. If you’re planning specific activities, source costs before you go and ensure these funds are set aside from your spending money.
5. Assess everything for risks: Be smart. If you’re venturing into unknown territory, take a minute to assess if it feels right. If there’s any doubt in your mind, don’t risk going ahead. Voice your opinions with your friends too. And always tell at least one person where you’re going and when you plan to be back. Remember when travelling, you not only have to look out for yourself but also each other!
Are your kids going to schoolies? Share your experiences in the comments!
Julia has lived and worked in London, Amsterdam, and New York, and is obsessed with food. She's either cooking or thinking about what to eat next. Follow Julia on Twitter.