Thinking about a gap year?

gap years

The exams are over, you’re proud of your teenager’s hard work and you’re looking forward to spending some exam-free time with them. And then they announce that they’re taking a much deserved break - to go travelling. Great for them, but probably a bit scary for you.

Many teenagers decide to spend between 3 to 12 months travelling abroad, before they start college or university, or before they begin looking for a full time job. What can be an exciting time for them can cause all sorts of worries for you; will they have enough money, will they be safe? Your teenager’s lack of experience of travelling without you there to help check-in at the airport or keep their passport safe can also add to your concerns.

A recent Family Lives poll asked parents if they would allow their 16 year old to go on holiday alone with friends, with a 73% majority answering ‘no, unless there is an adult to supervise’. However, in our latest poll asking what age is OK for young adults to go travelling alone, 41% of you answered 16 years, with 18 years coming a close second with 40% of the vote.

With there being such a big leap from never travelling without their parents to suddenly back-packing around the world on their own, it’s important to give them lots of useful information before they go – from how to stay safe through to basic cooking skills. By talking to them you will learn more about their plans, feel involved and also be helping them to get ready for one of the biggest adventures of their life.

Volunteering opportunities

There are many different things to do during a gap year. There are organisations which can assist with getting a paid job abroad, or volunteering. Charities such as Lattitude can help you find a volunteering role overseas. 

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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