SALT LAKE CITY — Are your teens just graduating into summer months with out-of-the-country trips planned? Have you watched the movie "Taken" one too many times and the thought of your teen being out on their own in another country make you nervous?
Don't stress. It's totally safe for your teen to go out of the country if you take certain precautions. For their safety and your peace of mind, here are five tips to help you and your teen prepare:
Track their social media accounts
If you don't already have social media, it's a good idea to get it now so you can follow what your teens are up to. In this day and age, your teen is probably more likely to respond to their social media accounts than texts or calls, so if you need to get ahold of them your odds are higher if you reach out on social media. Additionally, you can follow along on their Instagram "stories" and on their posts to see what they're up to, so it's a win-win!
Track their money
First of all, make sure they bring a few different debit/ATM cards in case one of them gets lost or stolen. Make sure you tell your teen to keep their cards in multiple places — one in their wallet, one in their checked bag and one in their personal bag — to reduce the odds of them all getting stolen at once. If you have a joint bank account, you can go online to track where they are making their purchases to ensure they are making smart financial decisions and not getting double charged on anything.
Identity theft insurance
I always recommend identity theft insurance for anyone traveling out of the country, just in case. If someone in another country gets ahold of your teen's ID, passport or credit cards, it's better to be safe than sorry. Check out options here.
In addition to identity theft insurance, I also recommend getting travel insurance — which will cover any injuries, lost items, etc. while traveling abroad. Check your health insurance coverage, but odds are it probably won't cover your teen while they're traveling abroad. I recommend travel insurance through World Nomads.
Make a copy of all travel documents
Copies of your teen's passport, ID, credit cards, debit cards, identity theft insurance, travel insurance, flight itinerary and hotel documents are all things you should print off beforehand — and make two copies: one for them and one for you. It's important to have copies of these items just in case.
PRO tip: In addition to the copies, take pictures of all of the above items, put them all in an email and email them to your teen and yourself. That way either of you can access it online.
Location services are a MUST. I remember my first trip out of the country, my dad made me share my location with him. At first, I thought it was weird and a bit too "Taken" movie-esque, but after having a few questionable experiences I realized I appreciated knowing my dad always knew where I was. For iPhone users, you can turn on your location services using the Find Friends application. If you don't have an iPhone, you can share your location using Google services.
The last tip is: don't worry. It can be scary to send your teen off into the world, but stress isn't going to serve any good on either end. So, the best thing you can do is help your teen prepare and trust that their travels will teach them valuable life lessons.
Hopefully, these tips will help you and your teens. Good luck this summer!
Brooke Nally is native to Utah but likes to see other parts of the world as often as she can. You can contact her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.