For any parent, the idea of their teen going overseas without them for the first time can be daunting and nerve-wracking. But whether your teen is skipping Gold Coast schoolies and opting for Fiji instead, or taking a gap year before Uni to explore the UK and Europe, there are things you can do to help prepare them - and you - for their solo departure.
A quick Google search will arm you with packing lists, do's and don'ts and a heap of suggestions, but as the FXperts, we wanted to focus on tips for your teen's travel money options and money safety.
These days there are quite a few different options available to travellers when it comes to how they take their money overseas:
We always recommend arranging some foreign currency cash before departing, so that when your teen lands at their destination, they have money on hand for a quick meal, public transport from the airport, and anything else they may need in the first few days - just in case they have problems finding an ATM, exchanging money or using their cards.
Our other recommendation would be looking into a prepaid travel money card, like our Key to the World Currency Card. A Currency Card is a modern version of travellers cheques (with lots of great features), and will allow your teen to preload the card with the currency they will need on their trip, or with Australian dollars if the currency isn't supported by the card. Then, while overseas, they can use their card to withdraw money or pay for purchases instore or online, like they would with their regular debit card.
There are a host of other benefits to having a Currency Card, including the fact that it is part of the Key to the World digital travel wallet that can include travel insurance, a Global SIM and travel itinerary. We've got a few more details on the other products below, but our perts will be able to answer any other questions you may have!
We're all for multiple travel money options - the more backups your teen has, the better you will probably sleep at night. And, if an emergency strikes, then having a debit or credit card on hand will be, well, handy.
But, we do suggest finding out from your teen's bank what fees will be associated with using their card overseas. Each time they use their bank card to withdraw money they will likely be charged an overseas ATM fee by the Aussie bank, as well as a fee charged by the local ATM owner, as well as a foreign currency conversion fee. If they use the card to pay for transactions in a store or online, then there may be a conversion fee and a transaction fee charged.
If your teen is going to be using their bank card overseas, they should advise the bank of where they are going, and when, before they depart. If the bank is unaware that they are overseas and they see foreign transactions on the card, they may act first and ask questions later, essentially cancelling the card to prevent fraudulent activity. If this happens, your teen could find themselves stranded overseas without access to any cash if they only have this one travel money option.
Travel insurance, in our eyes, is a no brainer. It can offer you peace of mind to know your teen will be well taken care of should they have a medical emergency, their luggage gets lost or stolen, or their travel plans are changed for any reason.
We recommend speaking to our of our FXperts to find the right travel insurance cover for your teen, and for their specific holiday activities - you can never be too safe.
Obviously, the best way to know they are ok is to actually talk to them, but using an Aussie mobile overseas can quickly add up to a massive roaming bill which will eat away at the money they have for more fun things on their trip. Cue no phone calls home to let mum know they are ok.
But, if your teen gets an eligible travel insurance policy through Key to the World, they will also get a free Global SIM that can help them stay in touch with you in an affordable way. With low call and data rates for over 190 countries, they'll have no reason to not call, Skype or Whatsapp you at least once a week!
And if they still "forget", the SIM comes with a UK based phone number that you can jot down and call or text them on while they are away.
The Government's Smartraveller website is a really useful tool to get medical and safety advice for each destination your teen may be travelling to.
It provides useful information on safety when it comes to money and valuables while travelling in each country, and it is a good starting place to educate your teen on the different laws and customs of the country they are travelling to, as they will be subject to the laws of the country they are in while they are there. The laws on drinking and the laws on driving will be of particular importance to a teen overseas. Now really isn't the time to have your head in the sand when it comes to teen activities.
You can also register their overseas travel plans, so in the event of an emergency involving your teen, you can be contacted, or vice versa - if there is an emergency over here while they are away, your teen can be alerted.
Besides having an idea of what travel money pitfalls they should try avoid in their destination, you can educate your teen on some basic money safety they can use anywhere.
Finally, it's a good idea to scan or photocopy all of your teens important documents and cards, including their passport, travel documents, bank cards, travel money cards and insurance documents. Then you can keep a copy, and you can give them a copy in case anything happens to the original documents or cards.
Your teen's first overseas solo trip sans parents is an exciting time for them - it marks a newfound freedom and a milestone in their independence. But, for the parent it can be an overwhelming, and even a sad time as your "baby" grows up. But, what it doesn't have to be is a time fraught with money worries. Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas of how your teen can best manage their travel funds while overseas, as well as provided some safety tips for you to pass on to them.
If you would like to further explore the option of a Key to the World Currency Card or a Cover-More travel insurance policy for your teen, our FXperts are here to help. Click here to find your nearest store.
* Lock in your exchange rates mean the exchange rate is locked in for the initial load only. The exchange rates for subsequent reloads will be set at the prevailing exchange rate at the time of the transaction.
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