Expert Travel Tips for Solo Teen Travel

Susie Kellogg Avatar
Teens on a trip to Bali Indonesia
Photo credit: Global Family Travels

Are your teens on the cusp of independence? Teen travel can be a great way to venture out solo before leaving home. To allow teens to feel independent and parents to feel confident in their safety, we have some tips for teen travel. We’ll go through how to help them fly, traverse another city or country and what safety mechanisms to have in place.

Is Your Teenager Ready to Travel Alone?

One of the most important considerations for solo teen travel is your own teen’s readiness. Solo adventures can teach kids to make educated decisions. At the end of the day though their behavior in daily home life will carry over into travel. If they’re timid and ask for constant guidance, they may not be ready yet. If they love adventure and can make quick calls on what is safe and what is a bad idea, they may be ready.

My kids are extreme adventurers. They are Class V whitewater boaters, snowboarders, climbers and dirt bikers. There is no wild adventure they would turn down. A 10-day trip to Puerto Rico was a perfect trip for them.

Don’t Expect Teens to Be Perfect

Your teen isn’t going to travel the same way you would. That’s a reality that you need to accept. As a mom of 12 kids, I’ve learned that they really aren’t mature and adult-like until 22 or so. It’s simply a fact and I parent accordingly. Teen travel depends a lot on the individual traveler, and equally on the collective. This trio could be trusted to travel well together and watch out for each other.

Do Your Research on Teen Travel and Then Don’t Worry

As it turns out, all this worry was for naught. My kids are street-smart. They might make wild adventure choices, but they aren’t stupid. They have good instincts and they look out for each other.

Teen travel is a life-changing event. If your teens are filled with wanderlust, check out these teen travel rules to follow. They’ll help you plan a safe, memorable trip for your teens and ease your nerves.

Solo Teen Travel Rule #1: Set Communication Expectations

To calm my nerves, I needed nightly check-ins so I could sleep. I made them promise to call me each night after returning to their hotel. Being the adventurers they are, they know the key to a supportive mom is communication. With that baseline communication expectation set, we were on the same page.

Solo Teen Travel Rule #2: Research the Destination

When researching a destination for teen travel it isn’t only about what to do, where to go and what to eat. You’ll want to chat with people who have been there already. Having an idea of safe areas and “no go” zones is important. We highlighted sketchy areas in red on their map to make sure they didn’t end up there.

In some countries, there are certain scams that are frequently run on tourists. Be sure to check on these and review them with your teens.

Read More: Great Teen Travel Destinations

Solo Teen Travel Rule #3: Discuss Drinking Ages and Limitations

In many international vacation spots, the drinking age is 18 and ID checking is random at best. Discuss alcohol consumption with your kids. For us, we set a one drink limit and we discussed the real meaning of one drink. There are stories with tragic outcomes when parents don’t have open discussions before their children travel.

Solo Teen Travel Rule #4: Set a Curfew

While the idea of a curfew on vacation may seem strange it’s important. At least for the first few days set a time for them to be back in the room. Let them get a feel for the nightlife scene and the relative safety, or the relative danger, of the area that they are in.

Solo Teen Travel Rule #5: Rules for Parents

Many parents don’t consider that rules for teen travel need to also include rules for the parents! In order to let it be their trip and their experience, place restrictions on yourself. If you’re walking them through the entire trip long distance or constantly checking in and texting they don’t get the independent travel experience.

You’ll want to call. You’ll want to check in but set a rule according to your comfort zone. Maybe it’s a check-in text at the end of the night. Maybe it’s a picture after each activity. Some parents say location sharing needs to be on.

Everyone’s rules will be different but setting clear guidelines for your teen’s first solo trip is a must.

Seek Travel Advice From Other Parents and Travel Teens

When planning the trip with my teens one of my greatest resources was another mom who had visited their destination. Fellow SheBuysTravel contributor Dana Zucker had traveled to Puerto Rico multiple times with her own avid teen travelers.  Her input on safe areas for lodging, running through areas to avoid and advice on adventures helped make me and my teens more comfortable.

Add Each Other on Social Media

Find out which social media platforms your teens are on and if you aren’t already connected to them, connect prior to their trip.

Have iPhones? Turn on the teen’s location sharing. This is a safety issue and not even remotely tied to privacy issues. These social media apps and location sharing let you follow along on their solo teen travel trip. I took great solace in the many Snapchat stories. It was fun to watch them enjoying themselves, almost in real-time.

Discuss Personal Safety

Drug-related crime was a concern where they were going, but only in certain areas. You just need to know where to avoid in order to increase your safety.

We had a few basic personal safety rules for our solo teen travelers.

  • Keep backpacks zipped. It’s preferable to wear a bag across your front, rather than your back.
  • Use the buddy system – especially at night.
  • Don’t do ANYTHING illegal!
  • Limit alcohol to one drink.
  • Never return to the home or hotel of anyone you meet. EVER!
  • Don’t accept rides from anyone. EVER!
  • Don’t tell anyone you meet where you are staying. EVER!
  • Be wary of strangers.
  • Lock your door at night.
  • Stay in well-lit areas if you are out at night.

These are just the basics. I went into a little more detail about using more common sense abroad than you do at home. The one thing I forgot to mention was sunscreen. They learned about the seriousness of that on the first day.

Trust Your Gut

Your teens will be excited about their travels and will want to explore and learn about the area. Hammer in the importance of trusting their gut instincts. Staying in highly trafficked areas, staying together and staying a little bit skeptical is important for safe solo teen travel. Making new friends is great, but remember that you just met them. Encourage teens to listen to how they feel and if something doesn’t feel right to leave together!

Try to Blend In

Looking and behaving like tourists isn’t a good look for solo teens. Remind them not to draw a lot of attention to themselves. Our teens pack light when they go out, carry very little money and wear no jewelry. They keep their heads up and their eyes focused, so they do not appear vulnerable to the career pickpocketer, or worse.

Also, instead of lugging huge cameras that scream “tourist,” they mostly used Go Pros. Ideal for all adventure photography and video, this is the camera they throw in their bags for all of their adventures.

Read More: 12 Ways to Travel Responsibly

Remind them to have fun!

If you’ve prepared your kids for solo teen travel and they follow these basic guidelines, all that’s left to do is for them to have fun.

Our teens had the time of their lives and upon returning home, they immediately started searching for cheap airfare for their next adventure.

Susie Kellogg is truly unstoppable as a traveling mom. She and her crazy husband, Dan, travel the continent full-time with their 12 kids in an RV. Her life is complete as she travels, writes, blogs, teaches and raises their 12 beautiful, faith-filled, fun-loving, crazy, adventurous kids. Susie and her family are adrenaline junkies and love extreme sports — whitewater kayaking, rafting, snowboarding, surfing, and SUPing, to name a few. As a family, they are sponsored by Jackson Kayak and Kokatat Watersports Wear and her kids compete at the highest levels of the sport, racking up awards as well as their own sponsors. Susie and her family have appeared on the Today Show, Fox News, Sunrise at 7 and have been featured in dozens of magazine and newspaper articles. Nick News produced a 30 minute episode on their family, titled “12 for the Road”. Susie is the author of “Raising a Badass Family” and blogs at
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4 responses

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