AS exams reach their conclusion and end of school celebrations begin, it's the perfect time for parents to start prepping their teens for upcoming Schoolies trips.
Taking some easy preventative measures and chatting openly can help parents ensure their teen's trip is as safe as it is enjoyable, and at the same time ease their own worries.
Jot Lynas, managing director of Unleashed Travel, a leading travel provider of school leaving experiences, advises parents to take an active role in their teen's holiday planning and preparation.
"It's really important for parents to establish an open dialogue with their teens about a Schoolies trip," Jot says.
"Prior to every trip, I hold information nights to facilitate communication between parents and teens and to make sure everyone is informed and prepared for their Schoolies holiday. Holding an information session ensures travel details, activities and plans are discussed prior and this helps parents as much as the traveller to prepare for the upcoming trip," she said.
Below are Jot's top six preparation tips for parents to help keep their teen's Schoolies trip safe and enjoyable.
Tips for parents:
1. Local or overseas: Work with and not against your teen to choose a Schoolies trip. Jot says, "Be involved in every step of the trip selection process and talk through the benefits and disadvantages of a local or overseas trip. Focus on selecting a destination which strikes a good balance between safety and fun.
2. Do your research: Ensure you know your child's itinerary, says Jot, including which dates they are supposed to be at particular destinations. Make sure you have the contact details of the resort and travel provider your child is booked with. "Be aware of any specific activities or outings they have booked. If you see any red flags, chat to your child about these concerns as a priority and make a point of talking through solutions to any potential issues.
3. Organise Transport: Chat with your teen about how they are planning to get around at their Schoolies destination. Gently remind them to organise a designated driver if they're planning to party late or drink alcohol. Make sure they plan to travel together with their friends as a group when returning home after a late night out. If they plan on walking between destinations at night, advise them to stick to main roads and well-lit areas and to keep footwear on. If they plan to catch public transport or taxis, make sure they have relevant contact numbers and timetables.
4. Chat about social media: Inappropriate Facebook and Instagram photos can last well beyond a one week holiday. Be sure to remind your teen to carefully consider what they post on social media sites while away. It's also a good idea to caution your teen against leaving technology and valuable items unattended, in order to guard against theft.
5. Look out for each other: Remember that your teen is travelling with a group of friends, that means there are other parents in the same boat. It's worth getting together with these parents to make sure they're on the same page as you. "Collectively encourage your teens to look out for each member of their group. By all parents giving the same safety message, you're increasing the chances of the group listening.
6. 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 a phone call - asking them to 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 it's okay to call and check all is well.