Poll: At what age would you let your child fly unaccompanied, non-stop, oveseas? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: When would you let your child fly overseas unaccompanied?
5-7 0 0%
8-9 3 8.11%
10-11 5 13.51%
12-13 7 18.92%
14-15 6 16.22%
16-17 4 10.81%
18+ 12 32.43%
Voters: 37. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 36 Old 08-01-2012, 07:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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 I would like to see at which age most of us would allow our child to take a nonstop flight overseas alone. Please feel free to share and post! 


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#2 of 36 Old 08-01-2012, 08:47 PM
 
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I didn't answer your poll because my kids have never flown internationally. I have however put them all on a plane, starting at 10 for a 7 hour flight unaccompanied.
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#3 of 36 Old 08-01-2012, 09:06 PM
 
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I fly often enough and see how the unaccompanied minors are handled so I'm comfortable that they'll keep an eye on him as long as the receiving airport has a policy in place that the adult meeting my kid come to the gate.

 

BUT, my 8yo would literally read the entire flight until he fell asleep.  So I don't really worry about him being bored on the plane.  I WOULD, however, give him a note to give to the fight attendant telling them to keep an ear out for his conversations as with him being Asperger's he's likely to give the wrong person too much personal information.  :/  And really, that could happen straight through the teen years with him.


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#4 of 36 Old 08-01-2012, 09:58 PM
 
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My kids have flown a lot (with me). I would have no problem putting them on a direct, overseas flight by age 10, assuming they wanted to go!

-e


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#5 of 36 Old 08-02-2012, 06:13 AM
 
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my kids fly often.  oldest was asking to fly by herself around age 8, but i was never in a position to need it.

 

my 2dsd flew alot unaccompanied.  they really do take excellent care of minors.  so much that by the time they were early teens that felt they were too old for the service.

 

if the child has some experience being away from family for however long the flight is, they should do well.  kinda think of it as a field trip.


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#6 of 36 Old 08-02-2012, 07:53 AM
 
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I voted 18 because part of flying internationally includes navigating customs and passports checks, which can be very confusing at large airports, esp. if the primary language is not one you are fluent with. Also, our international flights are always a series of flights, and making connections isn't something my kids are ready for.

My kids are 14&15, and would do fine alone on a direct flight within the US, but aren't near being ready for an international flight.

Even at 18, I would be more comfortable if they were traveling with a group, or only doing one flight alone and going into a relatively small, easy airport -- Dublin rather than Paris, for example.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#7 of 36 Old 08-02-2012, 09:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I voted 18 because part of flying internationally includes navigating customs and passports checks, which can be very confusing at large airports, esp. if the primary language is not one you are fluent with. Also, our international flights are always a series of flights, and making connections isn't something my kids are ready for.
My kids are 14&15, and would do fine alone on a direct flight within the US, but aren't near being ready for an international flight.
Even at 18, I would be more comfortable if they were traveling with a group, or only doing one flight alone and going into a relatively small, easy airport -- Dublin rather than Paris, for example.

with the unaccompanied minors program children are walked to the gate by a parent/guardian and then met at the next gate by a parent/guardian with any connection made with a airline staff person.  long layovers my dsd went to a special lounge just for unaccompanied minors.   the kids are kept fairly close to the staff.  i would think for international travel someone would be with the child through customs

 

most airlines require this for children under 16 and offer it to older children.


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#8 of 36 Old 08-02-2012, 09:38 AM
 
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I would not assume this help is available in other countries.

I also would caution any parent allowing some else, esp an ex, the right to take a child out of the country. If they decide to not send them back, there's nothing you can do about it. The child is just gone.

Out of the US isnt the same as in the US.
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but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#9 of 36 Old 08-02-2012, 11:05 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I would not assume this help is available in other countries..

unaccompanied minors is not about countries. its about airlines. 

 

almost all airlines - local or international have VERY strict codes about pick up and drop off. i believe there is an international code about this. even a tiny airlines like royal nepal airlines has strict guidelines but i am not sure about every country in the world.  the key is a reputable airlines will get your child safely to the waiting guardian at the other end. 

 

the same rules apply whether your child was flying to new york, france or singapore. the difference is with international flights, the flight attendant accompanies the child to baggage claim, then through customs and then hands them over to the guardians with the right papers. 

 

heck that's why you pay that extra money. 

 

dd has flown locally at 9. she was ready at 8 but didnt have the opportunity. but she is very mature. if she was going to fly international on a regular basis then i'd like to send her early from 8 to 11 so she has help with customs and knows what to do when she has to do it on her own at 12. coz i know i wouldnt be able to pay for assistance fees. 

 

however i am not exactly sure what happens when they are no longer unaccompanied minors. i think that's at age 12 they are considered adults and i am not sure if you can hire a flight attendant to help with baggage claim and customs. however i cant imagine them not having that service. i am sure it comes at a pretty penny. 

 

you'll be surprised how many children fly solo - local or international. 

 

about parent kidnapping. unfortunately it doesnt have to be international. it can happen very well in the US too and it does - quite a bit. esp. in the state of CT. it is unbelievable. actually not even airlines. but even the same city. i dont feel international is any worse than local - if your ex partner is so inclined and has the right resources and lives in a state that is v. pro dad's rights and buys into the parent alienation syndrome. 


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#10 of 36 Old 08-02-2012, 07:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the input. I'd love to hear more from the 18+ folks!  I voted in my own poll and picked 12-13. I guess this is a somewhat arbitrary guess at how I will feel in two years time. My child is 10 and has the chance to go to Italy in the fall. I'm really leaning against it, mostly because I think it will be really stressful for me. Sigh. There are times when I know I need to stretch my comfort level for my DC, however, and that's why I'm posting to hear opinions from like-minded parents. Thanks for the thoughts -- keep 'em coming!


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#11 of 36 Old 08-02-2012, 08:20 PM
 
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Some things to consider :

How much experience does your child having with flying, domestic or international? How independent is she? How does she do with lack of sleep? With depending on strangers to look after her? When things don't go as planned?

It would not have been appropriate for either of my kids at that age. They are pretty seasoned travelers (dh is European, I'm american, and we've lived in two provinces of Canada). Part of it is personality though.

You can also goggle the airline you are considering and see what their guidelines are.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#12 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 06:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DC has traveled a lot but hasn't spent much time out in the public world alone. I'm really leaning against letting her fly alone. And, with the added expense of getting a partner for her to fly both ways with, it's seeming like this may not happen this year. Which is FINE by me! Part of the rush is that DC's aunt wants her to be able to attend school where she works, which only goes to 5th grade. That's not all that important to me so I may just put it off a few years. I know my sister visited me overseas when she was 15 and I thought she was PLENTY old to do that. If I'm not comfortable with DC doing it by then I'll be more than willing to go within to see what's up with me. LOL! 


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#13 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 06:30 AM
 
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I voted 14-15, since I'm certain I could let them go at that age, particularly a non-stop flight without having to manage connections. I would seriously consider it at a younger age, but honestly I'm not sure whether I could be persuaded or not. Probably yes. 

 

We just hosted a 16 y.o. who flew alone from Australia. She had to make 2 connections to reach us. The trip in-bound was uneventful and she arrived with a small delay of about an hour after about 24 hours in transit. The trip home was much more complicated.  A connection in Atlanta was almost missed because of gate changes. She had to sprint across the terminal to reach the gate on time and barely made it. On the next leg of the trip, there was a lengthy delay at LAX. Inbound into Australia, her flight was diverted from it's scheduled landing in Sydney to Brisbane, where they sat on the runway for 5 hours and weren't allowed to de-plane. This was after being in transit for about 24 hours. When she finally arrived in Sydney, they had lost her bags. She managed beautifully despite all these travails. Poor girl is writing exams now and I'm sure she's grateful for the rest!  

 

She's an experienced traveller though and has been to Europe with her family. She's also quite confident, unafraid to ask for help or directions and (usually) demonstrates a lot of common sense (more about this below). She was also in fairly regular contact with her parents in all of the airports, thanks to free wireless, Facetime, Skype and an iPod Touch. If there had been a real issue with missed connections or anything like that, she would have had help sorting it out. 

 

In some ways there are advantages to the increased supervision when a child is an unaccompanied minor and has a minder for the voyage who will shepherd them, rather than teenagers who fly independently without anyone overseeing them. Teenagers aren't always the most patient or rule-abiding people. We made a trip to New York with this girl. Although I had warned this laid-back Aussie that security in New York airports is a very serious matter, she still managed to push the boundaries due to impatience. While the guards were busy helping an elderly lady in a wheelchair, she darted through the scanner rather than waiting for them to be ready for her to walk through. A minute later, her carry-on bag was stopped on the conveyer belt just after it went through the scanner. She was sure she didn't have anything contraband, so she removed it from underneath the metal part where the bags exit the scanner and picked it up off the conveyer belt (and this really ticked off the security people). Turns out she had a water bottle (left-over from walking around earlier in the day) with more than the allowable 3 oz. and it wasn't in a zip-loc anyway. This despite my earlier reminders to make sure to comply with the rules about fluids and sharps for carry-on baggage. Neither of the security breaches was a major incident and she got a minor "tut-tut" for both, but they are the kinds of things that might accumulate and cause trouble. She was suitably contrite, but I can imagine a balky, angry teen might not be let off so easily.

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#14 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 06:43 AM
 
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I voted 18+ but I do think so much depends on the child. 

 

By 16yo, I had travelled extensively within the US and across Europe and my parents sent me and a friend off alone to visit my aunt.  We had connections and a rather long layover and it was totally fine.  We both would have been able to handle ourselves if something happened.   There were elements of my teen years (some good, some bad) that made me much more mature than the average teen. 

 

A confident, assertive teen might be able to handle it at a younger age.


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#15 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 08:57 AM
 
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I think 14. Actually, 13 might be fine. There isn't that much trouble a kid can get into actually on the plane, and the airlines are pretty strict about unaccompanied minors. Old enough where they'll think it's cool and not scary.
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#16 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 09:39 AM
 
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I'm sticking with my 18+ answer.

This summer my kids went camping with friends with no real adults, and last year I allowed my then 13 year old to go to ren. Festival (1.5 hours away) with just teens. Most parents I know irl think my kids have more freedom and less supervision than they would be comfortable with.

But my kids have always been in cell phone reach and where I could go and get them if they needed me (or been with adults who I trust).

I've traveled enough to know the myriad of things that can go wrong, and know both of my kids well enough to know that at this point, neither of them would cope well with those things, esp combined with the lack of sleep that is often a part of international travel. And neither of them warm up to new people overly quickly, so even a paid airline person watching over them isn't something they would be comfortable with.

I would send them with a group with a teacher I knew, or allow them to travel with some members of our extended family. But not alone.

Part of the question to me is, would this be a fun adventure for the child, or just scary? That's more about personality than age.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#17 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 09:54 AM
 
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even if you don't pay for the unaccompanied minor program, you can still get a pass that lets you walk someone through security and to their gate.

ive used it for older teens flying alone, older parents, and single adult flying with kids.  only issue is making sure everyone is ready for security even if they are not flying.

 

i agree with a pp, there are a lot of kids flying alone these days.  I'm sure the customs issue is very smooth.  i highly doubt they go through the main customs lines.  as a single adult with 2 kids, even i was offered a special line for customs

 

not much of an unaccompanied minor trip will be public.

 

to op, i wouldn't let airline issues be the determining factor.


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#18 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 10:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

I'm really leaning against it, mostly because I think it will be really stressful for me. Sigh. 

i am not a like minded parent. but my parents were and i bore the brunt of it. i missed quite a few trips. one a school trip and the rest with extended family or friends trip. to this day i still remember crying all the way to school. my parents never understood and i missed out (i still feel that way) on a great trip.

 

let your child's personality be the factor here. this summer has been a momentous summer for dd and me. for the both of us. dd flew alone. she attended camp alone in a part of the country i havent even been to, she went with friends on their vacation and for the first time she slept alone in her own room - something she had been trying for a while. 

 

for me this is it - the most significant summer of 2012 - when my dd really grew up and i havent been able to grow up along with her. i am struggling and trying to match up with her. she has had a blast. she is changed forever. a v. drastic change but subtle so i cant really explain to you what it is except she has suddenly grown up. 

 

its been heart wrenching and scary as hell for me to let her go. but i KNEW it was time and that she was ready for it. these are a few reasons why i felt ready to let her go

 

1. she wanted it.

2. she is great in an emergency. 

3. she knows which rules are important and which ones should be followed to a T. 

4. she is a super confident child (reason why she is mistaken for a much older child, plus physically she looks 12 or 13)

5. she's been doing things on her own. she walks to the library two blocks away crossing a busy street at lights. she goes grocery shopping by herself 4 blocks down - again busy street but crossing at lights. she has her own cell phone and always keeps me updated even when i dont ask for it. 

6. she loves responsibilities - not chores. she takes her responsibilities very seriously. 

 

i would not let a 10 year old (if you have confidence that your child will be able to do it) miss a momentous opportunity. flying on their own - to ITALY, to stay with family. away from own family. it will be huge. they are going to hate it and love it all at the same time. they are going to be scared and confident at the same time. they are going to miss you AND not miss you at the same time. 

 

10 is such a momentous year. and what an opportunity!!!!


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#19 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 11:42 AM
 
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I flew alone overseas at 15. My oldest is 12 and I think she could do it, but I would prefer that she was a bit older first. All three of mine have flown unaccompanied domestically (flights between 1 and 6 hours) and have done great. They started at 7, 7, and 5 respectively.
 

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#20 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I really appreciate all the input! We are, I think, smack dab in the middle of our community of friends as far as how much independence our oldest has. We have several friends who do away camp and many friends who would never think of allowing their child to do something like this. Because of that, it's helpful to hear more input from you all! 

 

Meemee -- personal experience is such a strong informer of how we parent, isn't it?  Actually, my own upbringing is really influencing my feelings on this subject. I have a strong memory of flying alone for the first time at 12, and the anticipation leading up to that. For me, it wasn't a bad experience but I do feel like 12 was about as early as I would have wanted to do it. I also remember rather vividly being a tad irritable (internally) with my caregivers (my grandparents). I think it was mainly about that thing I described about not being able to "let down" the way one is at home. P.s. (by like-minded I meant that generally -- like another MDC mama smile.gif). 

 

That gets into the whole thing about DC acting differently at her aunts. I KNOW that will be the case. I just worry that will be a bit exhausting. 

 

But, not to worry -- I'm trying to remain open minded. 

 

Another factor, however, is I'm not quite sure if this is a "once and a lifetime" event. I'd love if I could talk to DC's aunt and see if this offer could be extended for another year -- if we decide it's too soon. DC wouldn't be able to attend her aunt's school but she could attend middle school, I'm sure. Or, better, go in the summer. 

 

Thanks again and keep the comments coming! 


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#21 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 02:22 PM
 
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How long would she be gone for?

Do you think she would enjoy it?

Is this something she wants to do?

I told my kids about this thread today and asked them what they thought. They felt it would depend more on the specific kid and the specific situation than an arbitrary age.

It's one thing to not allow something that you know isn't appropriate for your child right now, and it's quite another to hold them back because of your fears.

Meemee and I have very different kids.

(I don't see a school trip and flying internationally unaccompanied in the same league, though. Part of the reason we chose our kids school was because of the trips. One went on 3 school trips this year, the other went on 4).

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#22 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 02:26 PM
 
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Just my opinion, I put 18+. I sent an 8 year old off to camp for a week, and we're looking at longer term summer camps as they get older. But I traveled overseas as a teen, and honestly, even with a group, it was daunting. I think it would be more stress and less fun as an individual. I'd send a 13+ with a group, no problem. Even with a pair, and domestic flights, that makes sense to me. But alone overseas sounds like a long flight and a lot of paperwork and lines. 


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#23 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, of course it's about the individual first. BUT, I find it helpful to see if I'm within the range of "normal" both to check that I'm not asking too much or too little of my kids, yk? DC was an only for 10 years, which maybe is a factor, I don't know. She has asked me to accompany her on her school overnight (one hour from home) every year until last year. She does want to go...but I was not the person who talked to her about it first (her aunt broached the subject). I was neutral when I asked her and she said she wanted to go but wondered if she could go for shorter. 

 

BTW, I'm not sure if I consider this a "once in a lifetime opportunity". Other posters called it that - not me. 

 

There are two threads going - one where I asked about flying (this one) and another more general one about this trip in particular. I'll try to keep the rest of this thread on the flying issue (because I didn't mean this to be all about me and this particular trip). We can continue the other stuff on the other thread....

 

Like I said, I flew alone at 12, domestically, nonstop, short flight. The flight was fine. It was much anticipated -- hyped up for several years. I liked how that was done and feel that 12 was the right age for me.  I voted 12, even for international nonstop just because I feel the world is getting smaller and kids travel more (DC has already been all over the world and lived on two continents). 

 

My sister flew at 15 to Europe to visit me. She traveled with a friend but they traveled all over together just the two of them. I thought that was a fine age for that. 

 

Back to the "it depends on the individual" my other sister traveled to see me on several occasions and was really not ready to make the most of it and be a pleasant guest. 


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#24 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Here is the other thread: http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1359642/would-you-let-your-11-year-old-go-away-for-a-month#post_17065121


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#25 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 02:57 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Identity

 

Another factor, however, is I'm not quite sure if this is a "once and a lifetime" event. I'd love if I could talk to DC's aunt and see if this offer could be extended for another year -- if we decide it's too soon. DC wouldn't be able to attend her aunt's school but she could attend middle school, I'm sure. Or, better, go in the summer.  

middle school is a VERY challenging time. to go to a brand new school in a brand new country might be a bit much at that age. ESPECIALLY if she is on the verge of starting her periods. 

 

my dd being the emotional person and a thinker i am going to keep her near me for hugs and listening ear - for at least 6th and 7th grade. 

 

for future reference perhaps your dd could do one year of HS in italy - whether she stays with her aunt or not. 

 

LINDA - you know something. i guess i am more like your children. i was nothing like my dd. its been quite a challenge for me to see life through her eyes. but for her peace of mind i have had to stretch myself a bit. 

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#26 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 07:41 PM
 
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I voted 10-11 because my eldest DD flew as an unaccompanied minor from Denver to Hamburg round trip (changed planes in Frankfurt) at 11. I have to say it was the hardest thing ever to put her on that plane. She also flew round trip, Denver to Hong Kong (via SFO) at 13 and non stop Denver to London round trip at 16. My first flight alone was as a 16 year old, non-stop London to Toronto. I would let let my almost 15 yo and my 12.5 yo fly overseas by themselves if the opportunity arose.


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#27 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How did your child do, Mirzam? 


Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#28 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 07:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

How did your child do, Mirzam? 

 

She did fantastic. She flew Lufthansa and was taken very good care of. I allowed her to fly at 11 because I knew she could handle it just fine. She was not an anxious/nervous kid, I was way more scared than she was! It was not the first time she had flown overseas, she had flown many times with me as a younger child: London, Hong Kong and the US.


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#29 of 36 Old 08-03-2012, 11:22 PM
 
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I voted 12-13. I can't believe the 18 plus is winning! I don't think I flew internationally alone until I was 18 but at 11 my friend and I travelled from Scotland to Wales alone by train. At 13 I was taking the train into London for the day on my own. I also went on a train trip to Europe with a friend at 16. What were my parents thinking? All those things have way more variables than a non stop plane trip which is a very controlled environment. If my child at 12 wanted to do it, I would let them. My 5 year old already thinks he should be allowed to ride his bike to the shops alone. I'm pretty sure he could handle a plane trip in 7 years.
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#30 of 36 Old 08-04-2012, 05:00 PM
 
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Scotland, england, and Wales are all part of the uk and traveling them between them is more like traveling from state to state than traveling internationally Also, they are geographically small. The entire inland is smaller than the state I live in.

Part of the reason I would be opposed to my children travelling internationally unaccompanied is because of the fatigue involved, and how that effects their ability to handle stress. For us, international travel usually involves thousands and thousands of miles, as well as massive time changes.

The only country we live close to is Mexico, and there is a drug war there.

Riding the train around an area smaller than the state I live in isnt on the same scale as what international travel involves for us.

And being ready to ride a plane alone isn't the same as being ready to be in transit for lengthy times and then being taken, even by airline personal, through a massive airport.

I still think it depends more on the specific kid and situation rather than an arbitrary age. I just find some of the arguments lame.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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