While I know that not all schools have trips for their senior class, I have now prepared two of my daughters to enjoy their senior trips. The process was a little different each time, as my children have individual needs, for all that they were raised together as equally as possible.

So, if you have a child with a senior trip coming up, I wanted to share the basics of how I prepared for my second daughter’s recent senior trip. Feel free to tailor my experience to your own children, as you know best what will and work for them.

  1. Help My Teen Budget For The Trip: Once the trip destination was announced, one of the first things I talked about with my daughter was how she was going to budget for the trip. As her parents, we were happy to pay for the trip itself, especially as she kept up with her responsibilities regarding her chores, grades, and curfew. But we wanted her to take some personal investment in the success of her trip, so I talked to her about how to save up so that she could buy souvenirs, participate in different experiences, and just have some fun money. Some of the ideas she came up with to help save for her trip were:
  • Save Her Allowance—There are plenty of ways a kid can become spoiled with an allowance, but I have always been careful not to break the rules our family has set in regards to an allowance. So, when my daughter proposed she save at least half her allowance, I knew it was a practical solution, as she had already learned that money management skill.

  • Seek Side Hustles—Unlike my eldest daughter, my second daughter didn’t pick up a job in high school, preferring to focus on her extracurriculars. But, when she decided to earn some money on the side, she sought out babysitting jobs, dog walking, tutoring, and teaching the piano to young children. Most of her money earned from her side jobs went into saving for the trip.

  • Participate in Fundraisers—Many schools that offer class trips will often provide fundraisers to help children finance their trips. My daughter made a deal with my husband and me that whatever amount she was able to raise and we didn’t have to cover, that she could have that money for herself. We agreed, and she was able to fundraise a little over half of her trip!

  1. Talk To Her About Safe Social Media Posting: Like most teens, my daughter is pretty much glued to her phone. I know that she loves to post artsy pictures on Instagram, and it seems like she can never eat dessert before posting a picture of it first. I knew that for her own safety, we needed to have a serious talk about safe social media posting while abroad. Thankfully, my daughter and I have improved our communication over the years, and this wasn’t going to be our first talk about social media safety. We had a good conversation about not sharing location information online, even if the person sounded like a friendly native that just wanted to show her and her friends around. I also cautioned her about posting things like her travel itinerary and other personal and locational information.
  2. Buy Travel Insurance to Cover Emergencies: While all three of my children are usually very healthy, I am always a bit concerned when they take trips far away from home. As my daughter’s class trip was out of the country, I wanted to be extra certain that she would be covered in case of a medical emergency or just lost baggage. So, I looked up various types of travel insurance and purchased some for my daughter. I explained to her what it was for and what to do if she needed to use it. This extra insurance helped ease my mind, though I wouldn’t say it is necessary in all cases.
  3. Create Copies Of Travel Information: Speaking of her travel information, that was something I made two copies of once the information was available. One of the copies stayed home with me, so I could know exactly where my daughter would be on what days, as well as having critical information she may need. A set of the copies went with her in a closed packet, only to be opened if she lost one of the originals. We made copies of the following:
  • Trip itinerary

  • Flight information

  • Hotel reservations

  • Traveler’s insurance

  1. Discuss Practical Travel Safety Tips: Naturally, we also discussed a variety of travel safety tips with our daughter. Some of these tips which can apply for any teens traveling without their parents are:
  • Stay with your group so that you don’t get left behind.

  • Never just go off without telling someone where you are going. Ideally, at least one person will be with you, and you will inform a chaperone where you two will be.

  • Don’t accept favors or guidance from strangers who volunteer. If you can’t find a police officer, go into a local shop and ask for directions.

  • If you are lost, immediately contact a chaperone and other group members. Don’t try to wander back, instead find a safe place to wait, like a busy store.

  • Avoid carrying all your money on you. It’s better to make trips back to the hotel for more money than to be robbed.

  • Don’t leave your purse anywhere unattended.

  1. Provide A Small Medical Kit For My Teen: I am a fan of DIY travel medical kits, as they can be tailored to the specific needs of the person. So, for my daughter, who often had eczema flare-ups when stressed or over-excited, I was able to tailor a kit for her to soothe any unpredictable flare-up. Along with having her specific needs met, some of the good general items that work for any kit are:
  • Over-the-counter painkillers

  • Fabric bandaids of various shapes and sizes

  • A small amount of Neosporin

  • Alcohol wipes

  1. Have A Conversation About Behavior Expectations: Last, but certainly not least, my daughter and I had a frank talk about the kind of behavior that she was expected to uphold. For many teens, the first time they are away from home for a significant chunk of time is when they leave for college. Many freshmen college students struggle with balancing their new lives and freedom with the pressure of being on their own. Since I didn’t want my daughter to fall into the same trap, I explained how the trip was her first dip into being on her own, and that she needed to be careful about falling into bad habits, especially as she would be leaving for her first year of college in the fall. We talked about things like underage drinking, sex, and sneaking out with friends when she was expected to be in. I told her that while she was likely to get away with things that she knew I wouldn’t approve of, these rules were in place to protect her more than anything and that it was up to her whether she would keep herself safe.

And that’s the scary thing. I don’t know for sure that she didn’t engage in things that she knew we wouldn’t approve of. But, as she is officially an adult and will be leaving my direct sphere of influence soon, I have had to learn to trust that the years of raising and lessons will be enough to keep her safe in the long run.

As for the trip itself, by covering these things with my excited teens before their individual senior trips, they were able to stay safe and enjoy their experiences to the fullest.