My older daughter (who will be 13 this summer..be still my heart) just flew for the first time solo to Tampa to visit my sister.
Now with her on the cusp of teendom, I wasn’t concerned about whether or not she was ready. She’s been excited about this trip for months! There were several things I factored into the decision, however, and I thought I’d share them with you so you can help get your child ready to fly solo.
Spring break girl…life is tough for 7th graders.
Here are four things to consider when deciding whether or not your older tween or young teen is ready to fly solo:
Will your child keep an eye on their bag(s) (I definitely do NOT recommend having an older tween, younger teen check in luggage…have them bring a carry on bag to the plane). Will they keep up with their cell phone?
Has your child spent an extended time away from home, comfortably, such as sleepover camp or another trip? My daughter went on a road trip to Gatlinburg last spring break with a friend and her family for six days and did not get homesick, so I knew she was mature enough to be away from us for a four-night getaway to Florida.
Will your child be able to navigate the airport, find the proper gate, and board with little to no adult supervision? Can they seat themselves on the plane and get themselves buckled without assistance from an adult? Will they be able to sit still on the plane and occupy themselves with a book or music? If they need assistance, will they know how to approach flight staff?
Is your child savvy enough to know what to do in case of emergency? For example, what if the relative who is supposed to meet them is a no show (due to traffic or some other unforeseen circumstance.) Talk with your child and go through a few scenarios and ensure they have emergency contact information for more than one person in their city of destination.
A few more tips
I’d recommending booking a direct flight if at all possible, especially if your child is traveling solo for the first time. This was my daughter’s first plane trip solo and I don’t feel comfortable having her change plans in a strange city in a strange airport. When booking her flight I immediately eliminated any with connecting flights. I also was able to get a guest unaccompanied minor pass at the Southwest ticket counter that allowed me to go with her through security and walk her to her gate which made both of us feel much more at ease. Next time I book a flight for my daughter, I’ll also fork over the $12.50 to Southwest to secure Earlybird check-inA because even with checking in online 24 hours before her departure date she was in boarding Group B. Lastly, plan to arrive at the airport earlier than you usually would. With it being spring break season, the Nashville airport security line was insanely long for 7 a.m.! Long lines made for unnecessary early morning jitters for both me and my daughter.
Have your kids flown by themselves? If so, how old were they when they first flew solo? What advice do you have to give to make the experience as stress-free as possible?