For any parent, the idea of their teen going overseas without them for the first time can be daunting and nerve-wracking. But whether your teen is venturing Down Under, or taking a gap year before Uni to explore the UK and Europe, there are things you can do to help prepare them - and you - for their solo departure.
A quick Google search will arm you with packing lists, do's and don'ts and a heap of suggestions, but as the FXperts, we wanted to focus on tips for your teen's travel money options and money safety.
These days there are quite a few different options available to travellers when it comes to how they take their money overseas:
We always recommend arranging some foreign currency cash before departing, so that when your teen lands at their destination, they have money on hand for a quick meal, public transport from the airport, and anything else they may need in the first few days - just in case they have problems finding an ATM, exchanging money or using their cards.
Our other recommendation would be looking into a prepaid travel money card, like the Multi-currency Cash Passport™. A travel money card is in some ways, a modern version of travellers cheques (with lots of great features), and will allow your teen to preload the card with the currency they will need on their trip, or with New Zealand dollars if the currency isn't supported by the card. Then, while overseas, they can use their card to withdraw money or pay for purchases instore or online, like they would with their regular debit card. Minimum age for a Multi-currency Cash Passport is 13 years.
There are a host of other benefits to having a Multi-currency Cash Passport™, so if you would like to read up on a bit more detail, we have a blog just for you - "Benefits of a Travel Money Card"
We're all for multiple travel money options - the more backups your teen has, the better you will probably sleep at night. And, if an emergency strikes, then having a debit or credit card on hand will be, well, handy.
But, we do suggest finding out from your teen's bank what fees will be associated with using their card overseas. Each time they use their bank card to withdraw money they will likely be charged an overseas ATM fee by the New Zealand bank, as well as a fee charged by the local ATM owner, as well as a foreign currency conversion fee. If they use the card to pay for transactions in a store or online, then there may be a conversion fee and a transaction fee charged.
Our blog on "Using your bank card overseas" might be a good place to start your research.
If your teen is going to be using their bank card overseas, they should advise the bank of where they are going, and when, before they depart. If the bank is unaware that they are overseas and they see foreign transactions on the card, they may act first and ask questions later, essentially cancelling the card to prevent fraudulent activity. If this happens, your teen could find themselves stranded overseas without access to any cash if they only have this one travel money option.
Travel insurance, in our eyes, is a no brainer. It can offer you peace of mind to know your teen will be well taken care of should they have a medical emergency, their luggage gets lost or stolen, or their travel plans are changed for any reason.
We recommend speaking to one of our FXperts to find the right travel insurance cover for your teen, and for their specific holiday activities - you can never be too safe.
Obviously, the best way to know they are ok is to actually talk to them, but using a New Zealand mobile overseas can quickly add up to a massive roaming bill which will eat away at the money they have for more fun things on their trip. Cue no phone calls home to let mum know they are ok.
But, if your teen gets an eligible Cover-More travel insurance policy, they will also be eligible to get a free Global SIM that can help them stay in touch with you in an affordable way. With low call and data rates for over 190 countries, they'll have no reason to not call, Skype or Whatsapp you at least once a week!
And if they still "forget", the SIM comes with a UK based phone number that you can jot down and call or text them on while they are away.
The Government's SAFETRAVEL website is a really useful tool to get medical and safety advice for each destination your teen may be travelling to.
It provides useful information on safety when it comes to money and valuables while travelling in each country, and it is a good starting place to educate your teen on the different laws and customs of the country they are travelling to, as they will be subject to the laws of the country they are in while they are there. The laws on drinking and driving rules will be of particular importance to a teen overseas. Now really isn't the time to have your head in the sand when it comes to teen activities.
You can also register their overseas travel plans, so in the event of an emergency involving your teen, you can be contacted, or vice versa - if there is an emergency over here while they are away, your teen can be alerted.
Besides having an idea of what travel money pitfalls they should try avoid in their destination, you can educate your teen on some basic money safety they can use anywhere.
This information, together with any country-specific safety threats like pickpockets and scammers, should help your teen be more moneywise, alert of their surroundings and safety conscious.
Finally, it's a good idea to scan or photocopy all of your teens important documents and cards, including their passport, travel documents, bank cards, travel money cards and insurance documents. Then you can keep a copy, and you can give them a copy in case anything happens to the original documents or cards.
Your teen's first overseas solo trip sans parents is an exciting time for them - it marks a newfound freedom and a milestone in their independence. But, for the parent it can be an overwhelming, and even a sad time as your "baby" grows up. But, what it doesn't have to be is a time fraught with money worries. Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas of how your teen can best manage their travel funds while overseas, as well as provided some safety tips for you to pass on to them.
If you would like to further explore the option of a Cash Passport™ or a Cover-More travel insurance policy for your teen, our FXperts are here to help. You can chat to one of our FXperts at your nearest store for more details - we're always ready to help you with your travel money options!
The Multi-currency Cash Passport™ (“Cash Passport”) is an unsecured debt security issued by Travelex Card Services Limited, a member of the Travelex group. Cash Passport is not guaranteed by any member of the Travelex group or any other entity. Before you make a decision to acquire a Cash Passport, we recommend you to read the Product Disclosure Statement which is available free of charge at www.cashpassport.co.nz. MasterCard® and the MasterCard Brand Mark are registered trademarks of MasterCard International Incorporated. *Lock in your exchange rates mean the exchange rate is locked in for the initial load only. The exchange rates for subsequent reloads will be set at the prevailing exchange rate at the time of the transaction. Some ATM operators may charge an additional withdrawal fee.
This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.