As the excitement builds up and your son or daughter spends their days daydreaming about their upcoming gap trip, it may be up to you to bring them back down to reality and seriously consider what needs organising before they leave. Travel preparation and careful planning are essential for a smooth-running gap year, and although some travellers may wish to touch down and see where they end up, it may be worth sitting down with your son or daughter and making sure that they have put in place at least a rough outline of their travel plans, especially if they are new to travelling. This way they, and you, will have some reassurance about where they will be travelling, and for how long.
It is important that you make sure that your son or daughter has adequate travel insurance which fully covers them for all the activities they will be doing on their gap year. Gap 360's travel insurance policy is designed especially for gap travellers, so you can have peace of mind that they have comprehensive, reliable and reputable insurance in place before they go.
More often than not, gap year travellers underestimate how much their trip will cost and how much money they will need while they are out there. Because of this, it may be an idea to help them go through their financing and work out what needs to be paid for in advance and what can be bought when they're out there. Make a generous estimate of how much spending money they will need to take. Make sure that they are familiar with the local currency and also know a bit about the local economy and how this could affect their finances. This is especially relevant if your son or daughter is planning on working abroad. Travellers often find that what they see as spending money is actually the equivalent of a week's wages for the local people where they are staying. You could also encourage your son or daughter to find work or start fundraising to finance their gap trip, if they have not already done so. You could perhaps ask any friends of family if they need any babysitting or odd jobs done to kick-start their travel fund.
It's worth looking at the different payment methods that your child could use while they are abroad. One of the best options is to use a prepaid travel card, which can be loaded with money prior to their departure date and also topped up by you at home if they do happen to run out of money while they are there. The cheapest most popular pre-paid card is issued by Caxton FX, but there are lots to choose from. Make sure that you are aware that some are fee-free, but some can charge quite high withdrawal charges, so shop around. The same is true of debit and credit cards, and although it may seem quite simple to withdraw money when stopping over in more developed towns and cities, banks can charge extortionate fees for taking out money, so its best to check this out before your son or daughter leaves or advise them to only use a credit card in an emergency. As well as this, your son or daughter can name you as a third-party mandate, meaning that you are able to transfer more money into their bank account should they need it.
It's also worth noting that the use of credit/debit cards can attract the wrong kind of attention, so remind your child to keep cards, cash and prepaid cards separately so that if one is stolen or lost they still have other methods of payment. Another idea is for them to take a 'fake' purse or wallet that has expired cards in which they can use as a decoy if they experience theft. With a few precautions your child can make sure they stay safe as well as keeping their belongings safe.
Your son or daughter may not have yet fully realised that during their gap year they are going to have to fend for themselves. Dinner won't be waiting for them at the table and their clothes certainly won't be washed and put in a folded pile at the end of their bed! Because of this, it may be idea to teach your son or daughter some useful life skills. Depending on where they are travelling and whether they are travelling independently or with a gap year company, food may be provided or easily and readily available to buy, but if they are planning on house-sharing or renting accommodation, it's worth showing them some cooking basics, so they can knock up a few simple dishes. The same can be said for learning how to do their own laundry, if they don't already: Get them familiar with a sink and some washing up detergent, and if they run out overseas, shampoo and soap will work just the same. Help your son or daughter pack sensibly by making sure they have the right clothes and footwear. On a gap year, getting the right kit is important, as making sure your son or daughter has a warm coat and sturdy shoes could keep them safe and protected when they are travelling.
It's much better to be overprepared than underprepared during a gap-year, especially in unfamiliar and far-away destinations, but remember that a lot of travellers will find that they do not stick directly to their original plans. Obviously this will depend greatly on whether your son or daughter is travelling independently or through a travel company, but nowadays there is so much support and advice for travellers in the majority of foreign destinations that you needn't worry if they do deviate slightly from their original plan. A gap year will be one of the most rewarding and incredible experiences of their life, and with careful planning and preparation they can truly get the most out of their travels.