Is Your Child Ready for Foreign Travel?
ARE YOU AND HE/SHE READY TO BE OUT-OF-TOUCH, EXCEPT IN A REAL EMERGENCY?
Telephoning: The 6 (or more) hour time difference makes it difficult to call, both in and out. Unlike the U.S., one cannot simply pick up a phone and make a call. Often calls made from foreign countries to the U.S. must be made some time in advance. The child may not be able to wait, since the group is usually touring, off to study, etc. Nor can he or she always stay in one place to await your call. Mail can take at least 10 to 14 days in either direction. Fax and e-mail equipment may be unavailable except in emergencies.
SUPERVISION: Only a very few programs have supervision similar to that at a camp. All other trips require definite maturity. Does your child travel on public transportation in your own city? Is he or she ready to do so in a foreign country with language differences? Is your child ready to spend a few afternoons or evenings away from the group with one or two friends without a trip leader? To go to the laundromat? To concerts? To discos or clubs?
Alcohol: In some countries, wine is drunk like water. Teens go to local pubs and clubs. You and your child must discuss this. Are you going to make a private pact? Give permission? Some companies allow parental permission for teen drinking.
FAMILY STAYS: IS YOUR CHILD READY FOR THIS EXPERIENCE?
What is your definition of a family? As in the US, families in other countries come in all sizes and shapes: Your child may be placed with a single parent or a single person. If two parents live together in the household, both may work. If there are children in the family, their ages may not be compatible with your child's. Do not expect that your child will be supervised 24 hours a day. Supervision will depend upon the individual family with whom he or she is placed.
Only a very mature child should take advantage of a homestay. Is your child flexible ? Language, customs, food, religion, phone availability and bathing facilities may be different from what is expected. Could your child live with any one of your neighbors? Would your child be able to travel up to an hour to classes? Afternoons are sometimes spent with the family, sometimes with the group, sometimes free.
UNIVERSITY STAYS: LARGE CAMPUS UNIVERSITIES
Most have classes in the morning. Students are free after class. Other large groups of students of all ages are on campus.