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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

When children decide they're old enough to holiday alone ...

Our youngest has been gradually flexing her wings and travelling further afield, as you can tell from my expanding postcard collection. Her first trips alone took her to London or Manchester, but this last year she's started heading abroad - at first with others but then she announced that she was going to Italy ON HER OWN! This wasn't even going to be a 'met by a rep, stay in hotel' trip, but involved travelling from place to place, and staying in AirBnBs. At least it wasn't a week in Ibiza's hottest nightspots ...
OK, I admit, my first thought was to panic. Then I tried to reason myself out of it. After all she's grown up now, out of her teens, older than I was when I got married(!), but it's so hard to accept that our children have somehow become adults. She's used to organising trains and busses, so aeroplanes can't be harder. She surely knows how to look after herself when out and about in a strange city  -  she was away at uni for a year and has spent enough time away in British cities alone. Even my qualms about AirBnBs didn't really hold up -  she'd done this, although not alone, and (see above) she's stayed in hotels alone. Also, our eldest has travelled abroad alone quite a lot, but as that's always been work related it somehow didn't seem to carry the same risks (illogical, but what can you expect from a mother?)
Ticking off my individual fears, I came to the conclusion that my worries stemmed merely from the fact that she was going somewhere I didn't know, somewhere I couldn't get to if things went wrong because I don't have a passport, and basically doing something I haven't!
So, coping strategies were needed. Firstly the wonders of social media. I couldn't be expecting her to phone every five minutes and tell us what she was doing, but the availability of free wifi in airports, restaurants and BnBs meant she could chat to us if needed, or maybe just do a 'check in' at a railway station or tourist attraction, which would let me know she was ok.
Secondly, sharing the holiday vicariously.  Instead of making lists of everything that could go wrong, I tried to anticipate all the fun she'd have. Beforehand, this involved looking at the places she'd be staying, making sure I knew her itinerary, taking 'tours' round cities on goggle maps. I asked her to share more photos than usual on social media - this way I could see where she'd been, what the weather was like and such. Seeing the photos led me to another way of 'joining in' - finding her on Google maps. A lot of landmarks are instantly recognisable - the wonky tower in Pisa, for instance - or visible on Goggle's satellite view, so by switching to 'street view' I could pretend I was there. I even managed to find the spot she stood to take photos of Vesuvius. Yes, I know, some of this is a little like stalking, but being able in the evening to share in what she'd seen that day, made things easier.
Thirdly, distractions. From following my plans for a staycation to binge-watching all of Better Call Saul, having something to fill my time helped.
Fourth, major distractions. I'd been expecting all manner of things to go wrong during this trip, and they did - but here at home. My mother fell ill, though it turned out to be one of those 'not a problem unless you're in your 90s' things that both my parents suffer from occasionally. Then, from somewhere, I caught a stomach bug. Three days with hardly any food left me weak, half a stone lighter and barely able to think straight. By the time I'd begun to recover, it was almost time for the return of our intrepid traveller from her wonderful holiday.

Now my only worry is, when will she decide to do it all again?

11 comments:

  1. my youngest spread his wings aged 11 when he started flying to and from the uk from South Africa for school, i've never worried abut them travelling and holiday alone or with friends as they've all done so much from young ages. child 3 is back packing around Australia and working with his girlfriend and child 4 is in Iraq with the army (that does worry me a little) but they keep in touch and hopefully have learnt enough skills to keep themselves safe. They're more likely to worry about me and my solo travels than me about them lol #tweenteensbeyond

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    1. Thanks for dropping by and sharing a very different perspective on things. You've had a head start on me with getting used to kids travelling! I'm hoping to have a little longer to get used to the idea before mine decides to head off somewhere further afield.

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  2. I bet she will Mary but I guess that's the way it is. I'm sorry to hear about the stomach bug, they are so miserable! I am such a worrier, I get very anxious when any of them go anywhere but it is something that I am trying to work on or will be in a state of collapse by the time all three of them have left home! I am getting better since my eldest started uni last year. Love reading your perspective as always and thanks for your support for #TweensTeensBeyond

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    1. Thanks, Sharon. It's yet another trying time of parenthood! I hope all three don't choose to go adventuring at the same time. That would certainly be too much for my nerves!

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  3. I can see now where you were coming from on my digital detox post last week, Mary! And, yes absolutely all guns blazing for this trip. Thank heavens that we do have it. Tough one on you and I completely understand the comfort and joy you got from seeing those posts. I bet she has had a ball though! Sorry to hear the folks and you have been poorly though. Hope all is well. Oh and by the way, if I tell you that I'm going to Ibiza next week, will you promise not to track me!!!! Because I really am a lot older than when you were married!!! But there's a first time for everything..... Great post, lovely to read and thanks for sharing at #tweensteensbeyond, Nicky x

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    1. She had a wonderful time, thank you, Nicky, but I was glad to be able to follow her along in a virtual way. Don't worry though, I shan't be stalking you round Ibiza :)

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  4. My husband constantly nags me to stop thinking about what could wrong with a scenario and instead to look on the bright side. I think it is natural for a mother to worry. My eldest did a couple of holidays this year with his friends but he did fly to just the one place and stay put so I was relatively calm. He is at university now and is planning to do what I call proper travelling with some friends next summer and I know that I will be anxious. He is not a great one for posting on social media so I am going to appeal to his better side to keep in touch. The job of worrying as a mum is never over is it? Thanks for joining us again and hope you are on the mend. #TweensTeensBeyond

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    1. I believe in being prepared - and that means thinking of the worst, from losing a passport to missing a train. Hopefully your son will take pity on you and keep in touch, though they feel so grown up, they don't believe it's necessary. Thanks for stopping by, Jo :)

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  5. We live in London so our kids have been visiting friends on the bus/train within London since the age of about 12 or 13. Scary at first but I've got used to it and their school is great at giving them talks about personal safety on public transport etc. I'm not sure about foreign travel though - thats a whole different ball game! Mind you, I went cycling round Holland with a friend at the age of 18, camping and making up the route as we went along. I now wonder what my parents thought of it all! #tweensteensbeyond

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  6. We're in London so our kids have travelled to friends and activities by bus and train since the age of about 12. Scary at first but I've got used to it and their school is great at talking about personal safety on public transport. Foreign travel must be a whole different ball game though! #tweensteensbeyond

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    1. At each stage of life they move that bit further away from home, don't they? I've more sympathy now for my parents - and they didn't have mobile phone to check on me!

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