Snow days, hot chocolate, and plenty of reasons to be together – winter is beautiful. And once the presents are open, the candy’s been eaten, and the new year is effectively rung in, there are fewer distractions vying for your family’s attention. It’s the best time to have a chat with your child about their goals for the year.
Do they want to travel? Start learning a new language? Maybe they’re already thinking about how to prepare for university – perhaps all three. With a fresh year upon us, it’s the perfect time to discuss what comes next and how to make it happen.
Here are eight simple steps to help your child achieve their goals this summer.
1. Choose a realistic destination
If the idea this summer involves surfing lessons off the coast of Malta or San Diego, don’t start your search with a landlocked location. Alternately, if you’re picturing a quiet summer in a cottage somewhere, a buzzing metropolis like London isn’t going to be your ideal destination.
2. Discuss what they want to get out of this trip
Knowing the goal sets the course for the entire experience. Is the dream to try surfing for the first time? Maybe it’s something more concrete like improving their skills in a second language or mapping out the plan to study abroad in a foreign university. Whatever it is, decide early enough to plan around that goal. I’m a firm believer that once you know the purpose of the trip, the rest is easy.
3. Book early
But for real, that trip isn’t planning itself. Don’t leave all those crucial details to the last minute. Act now while you’re still motivated. By booking in advance, you’ll not only get access to more promotions and deals, but you’ll have the time to think about where you really want to go and what you want to do. Plus, you’ll have something super fun to look forward to during the dark winter and wet spring.
4. Plan luggage accordingly
One of the worst ideas for a trip abroad is over packing and preparing for situations that probably won’t even happen. It’s easy to think of all the different hobbies to try out during the trip, but, in the end, carrying extra gear and clothes is a waste of precious space and annoying to carry around.
5. Sort out travel documents
Behind every gallery of glamorous travel, there’s a small mound of boring paperwork that once had to be sorted. You probably know all about getting passports figured out, but some other important documents to have in order for your child to travel are visas, immunization records, and travel insurance. You also never know how strict the control will be at the airports. They may even want to see a return ticket and accommodation confirmations.
6. Map out your budget
Map out a realistic budget. After calculating the flight and accommodation costs, do a bit of research about what your daily expenses will be. Many travelers use fun tools like the Big Mac index or the Chai Latte Index before traveling somewhere for the first time. It’s not an exact measure, but it’ll give you a good idea about the costs of things compared to back home.
You should also have the right currency for the destination and know about the conversion rate. For some extra help keeping track, there are loads of travel budget apps on the market, two of my favorites have been Tripcoin and Trabee Pocket.
7. Set aside an emergency fund
Along with a realistic budget, you should always have an emergency fund set aside. It’s not that you’re expecting to run into trouble, but from baggage fees to delays with transportation, you just never know when something might catch you off guard. If the money for this trip doesn’t get used, that’s some cash you can put towards organizing the next one.
8. Prepare your child for the new surroundings
The destination is set and the flights are booked. But you don’t want to wait until the last minute to prepare your child for everything they’ll experience, especially if it’s their first time abroad. They’ll face a variety of new adventures and maybe even a few challenges along the way. Remind them it’s only natural to be nervous (don’t worry, it’s natural as a parent, too) and let them know they can always count on you to support them.
For now, there are a lot of extra layers and icy mornings for you and your child. But, with an exciting summer vacation all mapped out, you both have something to look forward to well into the year. Happy travels!