'Because I said so!' - Three case studies of young travellers with advice from their parents... | Real Gap Experience Blog

'Because I said so!' - Three case studies of young travellers with advice from their parents...

So you've had a think about what you're doing with life, studies, your career, the future, and you're still none the wiser, but one thing's for sure – you want to travel. Whether you want to spend a week basking in the Balinese sunshine, or go on a round-the-world year-long trip, there's just one thing standing in your way: your parents...

Perhaps your mum is a perpetual worrier, or your dad thinks you could do with a few more street smarts before heading out into the big, wide world. It's natural for parents to be concerned about your safety – that's their job, and they've obviously done a remarkably good job so far (just look how well you've turned out!), so cut them some slack, talk to them about your plans, and take their thoughts and feelings into consideration.

In case they need a little more persuasion, we've put together three case studies of recent Real Gap Experience customers to find out what their parents thought of their travel plans before, during, and after their trip. You're welcome!

 

Case Study 1: The double-checker

Traveller: Holly

Parent: Lisa 

Trip(s): Thailand Experience (4 weeks)

Holly chose one of our most popular trips which is a great one for first time travellers. Thailand has heaps of culture but at the same time it's a very safe place to go and the locals are used to travellers! During her trip, Holly has the chance to explore some of Thailand's many temples, take part in a Thai cooking class, volunteer at a local building project and hit the beaches (and parties) of the gorgeous islands in the south. Here's what Holly's Mum, Lisa, had to say about her trip:

 

How involved were you in your daughter’s decision to travel? 

Ultimately it was Holly's decision to travel, but my husband and I thought it would be a good experience for her and backed her decision. 

 

Did you speak to RGE much before your daughter booked a programme with us? If so, how did you find it?

We didn't feel the need to speak to Real Gap Experience much before we booked the programme. We had done our research and compared RGE with other organisations before booking. Once we booked everything, we did have a few questions leading up to the trip. I would ask numerous questions over RGE's live chat, and I found every query was responded to and answered promptly, I always felt reassured after every conversation.

 

Have you travelled much yourself?

Yes, we have all been lucky enough to go to some amazing places together. 

 

Did you have any concerns about your daughter going travelling? If so, were our team able to help?

I initially had lots of concerns about Holly travelling independently for the first time without her parents, I think the RGE team got to know me quite well as I was always in contact, asking questions before her trip, but the team were able to reassure me. 

 

How often were you in contact with your child whilst they were away?

We were in contact with Holly most days via WhatsApp. Holly also managed to FaceTime us three of four times, which was lovely as were introduced to her tour guide and the lovely group she was travelling with. 

 

Do you feel like your daughter was fully prepared for her trip?

Yes, I felt Holly was prepared fully for her trip. She had the necessary vaccinations. She used a money travel card that we could monitor and top up from home – she took two money cards for security reasons. We also made sure all her documentation, including her passport, was photocopied and a copy was kept at home as well as Holly taking copies with her. She was nervous about flying by herself on a 13-hour flight but was also excited at the same time. 

 

Did you feel your daughter was well looked after during her trip?

This was my main concern, but Holly told us her guide was absolutely amazing, he accompanied them on every single trip and advised them on safety. Whilst away, Holly hurt her ankle but this was quickly seen to, cleaned and dressed properly and she had a brilliant time – largely due to how great Pentor (her tour guide) was. 

 

Do you have any advice/tips for parents of future travellers?

Yes, your son or daughter will have an amazing time as long as they prepare for the trip, are respectful to their guide (and to the different cultures) and embrace the new and exciting experiences they will have. 

 

Would you recommend RGE to other parents and if so, why?

Yes, I would definitely recommend RGE to other parents. They have lots of experience organising trips, they offer a wide range of countries to explore that can be combined with other trips, there's someone available to talk to at RGE 24 hours a day in an emergency, and all concerns and questions are responded to promptly. Holly is already planning another trip with RGE to Vietnam next year!

 

Case Study 2: The 'in any event' planner

Traveller: Gabriel 

Parent: Erika 

Trip(s): South Africa Children's Hospital Volunteers (4 weeks)South Africa Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteers (2 weeks)South Africa Penguin Sanctuary (2 Weeks)South Africa Experience (2 weeks) & Cape Town to Namibia Discovery (2 weeks)

 

 

Gabriel is a volunteering pro! He spent 3 months trying his hand atall sorts - from working on a reserve with the Big 5 to entertaining children at a children's hospital near Cape Town and even spent two weeks at a penguin sanctuary! When he wasn't busy helping others, Gabriel also found time to explore lots of South Africa and Namibia including the beautiful Garen Route and ashtonishing sand dunes in Sossusvlei, Namibia. We asked his mum Erika what she thought of his travels:

 

How involved were you in your son’s decision to travel?

It was entirely Gabriel’s decision to travel to South Africa. He had planned to spend the summer in South America, but a friend he met whilst studying in Hamburg said she'd volunteered at the children’s hospital in Cape Town and it had changed her life! It came as a surprise to us, but Gabriel kept insisting his gap year had to be 'epic', I guess he decided that this would be an epic enough reason to go and see for himself. 

 

Did you speak to RGE much before your son booked a programme with us? If so, how did you find it?

Yes, once Gabriel had decided where he wanted to go I spoke mostly to Hannah (a travel adviser) who was patient, informative and very helpful – especially when answering my questions about how to deal with possible emergencies. After the initial conversation with Hannah, which was mostly about getting the dates for each of Gabriel's trips to fit together, we communicated regularly via email. Hannah’s email responses were very prompt and answered all my questions.

 

Have you travelled much yourself?

Yes, we love travelling as a family, but sadly only seem to manage long distance intercontinental holidays once every five years.

 

Did you have any concerns about your son going travelling? If so, were our team able to help?

Yes, I had a bucket load of concerns. Being dyslexic, I was particularly worried about his organisational skills and remembering where he had to be on different dates. He had a printed itinerary as well as his RGE online account, in case he couldn't access the internet, and purchased a South African SIM card once he arrived in Cape Town so we could keep in regular contact.  

 

How often were you in contact with your child whilst they were away?

Once or twice a week. With Gabriel, no news is good news!

 

Do you feel like your son was fully prepared for his trip?

I don’t think he was fully aware of what was waiting for him, like having to be at the project by 8am and navigating his way around on South Africa's public transport. Luckily the local team were always on hand to help him out night or day.

 

Did you feel your son was well looked after during his trip?

Gabriel was very well looked after. He was met by friendly, helpful staff who gave him local insight and knowledge about his stay with them and what would be expected of him when he started work/volunteering.  

 

Do you have any advice/tips for parents of future travellers?

Make sure your son or daughter saves all important phone numbers to their phone before leaving the UK. A printed copy of their itinerary is a good idea, in case the internet in the country they are visiting isn't reliable. If possible, tell them to purchase a SIM in the country they are visiting – it’s much, much cheaper. Check they have a first aid kit – don’t forget things like Mosquito repellent and malaria tablets (if necessary). It's also worth keeping the UK Embassy number handy for the country your son or daughter is in, and take photocopies of their passport and bank cards to keep at home, just in case. Research how to get money to them in an emergency, should they lose their bank cards – it's a good idea for them to take one UK bank card and a pre-paid credit card, like a Travelex card – tell them to keep one card on them and leave the other in a safe place at their accommodation or at the bottom of their rucksack. Consider getting your son or daughter to download and familiarise themselves with their banking app, too. Finally, relax – no news is usually good news!

 

Would you recommend RGE to other parents and if so, why?

Yes, definitely. Even though I grew up in South Africa and still have family and friends there, I was reluctant to let Gabriel simply travel around on his own, especially as he insisted that he didn't want to stay with family or friends. I was impressed with how quickly and patiently RGE responded to my requests for help and advice. RGE have a fantastic selection of volunteering and travelling projects to choose from and excellent staff on the ground at the different projects.

 

Case Study: The laidback supporter

Traveller: Emma

Parent: Chris

Trip: Bali Beaches & Lombok Extension (13 days)

Emma decided to book this trip with three friends as a introduction to Bali and after the trip, travelled independently around more of Indonesia. This is a great idea for someone who is new to travelling (or to a destination) as it can build your confidence to travel solo afterwards. The Bali trip includes an airport pick up, all accommodation and lots of activities to start your travels off with a bang. Once the trip comes to an end, you'll have a good knowledge of the local culture and currency and your guide will be able to offer advice on what to do next.

 

How involved were you in your daughter’s decision to travel? 

I was involved but only in a 'supporting her decision to travel' way. Emma decided herself that she wanted to take a gap year before heading to university, however, gap years are something I’ve always been very keen for my children to try. I think that it’s great for young adults to have a break before further study and gain some confidence, independence and life experience.

 

Did you speak to RGE much before your daughter booked a programme with us? If so, how did you find it?

We knew about Real Gap Experience as my niece travelled with you in the past and highly recommended it. I left all the decisions about what to do and where to go with my daughter and she was the one who spoke to the team at RGE to get her trip organised.

 

Have you travelled much yourself?

I’ve travelled lots on business and family holidays but never did the travelling thing when I was younger – I wish I had! We had an adventurous family trip to Borneo a few years ago, which I think may have sparked Emma’s enthusiasm to travel on her own now she’s older.

 

Did you have any concerns about your daughter going travelling? If so, were our team able to help?

Yes – the usual parental concerns about safety and if something goes wrong when they are far away. I didn't really ask for help but I did know that RGE have a 24/7 emergency line, which was very reassuring. Luckily it wasn't needed, but it was good to know that someone in the UK was available anytime we might need them.

 

How often were you in contact with your child whilst they were away?

Almost daily via social media. Wifi was readily available at the hotels Emma stayed at on the tour or in local cafes/restaurants nearby. This meant that she was able to contact me free of charge whenever she got the chance. It was great to be able to hear about (and sometimes see) all the great things she was doing.

 

Do you feel like your daughter was fully prepared for her trip?

Yes, completely. RGE provide an online account with lots of useful information such as a packing list, detailed itinerary, arrival instructions etc. but Emma also did a lot of research of her own.

 

Did you feel your daughter was well looked after during her trip?

Yes she had a fantastic trip, the tour guide was great and she was so busy doing things every day – it was non-stop! From the first day when she was collected from the airport after a long flight until the last day when they said their goodbyes, the team in Bali were there making sure she was happy and above all else, safe. It couldn't have gone better for her!

 

Do you have any advice/tips for parents of future travellers?

Let them plan as much as they can themselves because the trip has to be what they want to do; it’s no use pushing them into things they don’t want to do. Try not to be on their backs about where and what they are doing – let them be and they're more likely to stay in regular contact. Emma did have a few last-minute panics about jabs and visas, so make sure you head to your GP or a travel clinic and check the visa rules with the relevant embassy in plenty of time.

 

Would you recommend RGE to other parents and if so, why?

Yes definitely. Great organisation, wonderful staff, very good value and above all my daughter said it was the best thing ever and she never wanted it to end!

Need more help or advice? Our travel co-ordinators are available to speak to on the phone (01892 277040) or via live chat between 9am and 5:30pm Monday to Friday and are always willing to speak to anxious parents as well as enthusiastic adventurers. Questions flooding your brain outside office hours? Ping us an email ([email protected]) and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. In the meantime, there's some great travel advice and trip inspiration throughout the website – go, explore – it'll be good practice!  

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