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Global Travel: A Parent's Special Role

Abby Adams
Mission Principle: Connection to Local and Global Communities
Global Team members Justin Symington, Sarah Peeden, Allegra Molineaux, Renee Bertken and Abby Adams provide advice for parents on how best to prepare their children for Pacific Ridge's travel adventures.
Sometimes, sending children off on a trip is unsettling for parents, particularly if the destination is very distant or is one the parents themselves have never been to. This is natural and is related to the larger experience of letting our children go as they get older. If you feel this way, we recommend that you acknowledge your feelings, but try to remember the tremendous growth opportunity that these trips represent. Both the good moments and the trying ones are part of that growth. You can feel confident that our trip leaders and chaperones are experienced travelers for whom your child’s safety and comfort are top priorities.
Having said this, parents play an extremely important role in the success of their child’s experience, before, during and after the global travel period. Read on for details.
Travel is Being a Guest in Someone Else’s Home
Global travel represents a tremendous opportunity for our students to learn about people and places all over the world. An essential component in this learning is authentic respect. Beyond being polite and well behaved (which are important), we ask our students to bring open minds and open hearts to each global experience. Only by doing this can they achieve one of the most important goals of the travel program – to learn more about themselves in relation to others. Emphasizing respect and openness with your child will make their travel experience far more valuable.
Keep Calm and Carry On
If you are anxious, chances are your child is too. Confidence breeds confidence, so try to reassure your child if they get the travel jitters before they leave. Emphasizing the positive (seeing new sites, experiencing new cultures, building new friendships, etc.) will go a long way toward getting your child ready.
The same philosophy applies if a snag occurs during your child’s trip. Temporarily lost pieces of luggage, itinerary changes or delayed flights can be frustrating and disappointing, but they are the tides world travelers learn to surf. Over the years, Pacific Ridge students have shown themselves to be remarkably resilient, including one of our early China travelers who hiked the Great Wall in his shower slippers after leaving his tennis shoes in a hotel (the same traveler brought home a paper-wrapped pickled egg that he had been carrying in his luggage for 13 days, but that’s another story…).
Ah, roommates… The announcement of travel groups and roommates can be a big deal for students. At times, learning this information is cause for unbridled joy. At other times (when parents are most likely to hear about it) roommate assignments seem to spell the end of life as we have known it.
Our trips are carefully and purposefully designed to challenge students, pushing them out of their ordinary comfort zones for the sake of learning and growth. Mixing with classmates not in their immediate friend group presents a particularly rich, if sometimes uncomfortable, opportunity for personal development. If the rooming situation is disappointing to your traveler, please help them refocus on what they are most excited about instead. You can also remind them that students spend very little time in their lodging rooms, filling that time mostly with the deep sleep that comes after an action-packed day.
Concern over roommates may be your child’s way of expressing general anxiety they may feel about traveling. Reassuring them on this point will help all the way around. Finally, group travel often has a magic way of bringing students together, enabling them to appreciate qualities in others they never recognized before, and creating meaningful new connections.
It is true. Students can get homesick during trips. And, while it is never pleasant to know your child feels sad, like so many parts of the travel experience, homesickness is actually a great opportunity for growth. On rare occasions, homesickness can have a significant negative affect on a student’s trip, but this is unlikely. In almost all instances, bouts of homesickness pass quickly and getting through them teaches children that they can be independent. Plus, leaning on tripmates and chaperones strengthens their emotional bond with the group. Powerful learning can come from this kind of brief discomfort, and we encourage you to keep this in mind if your child calls and is missing home.
Be an Armchair Traveler: Follow the Blog!
So, what do you do while your child is exploring the world? Each year, a dedicated team of faculty and staff monitor all trips, providing 24/7 logistical and communications support. In addition, our global travel blog posts daily reports from each travel group, including reflections on the day, photos and even videos. Most parents excitedly await each post from their child’s group, but we encourage you to check out all the other global adventures too. You will be amazed at the breadth of opportunities and experiences our travel program offers and may get a glimpse of your child’s future travel.
An important point to keep in mind with the blog is that we are gathering and posting information from over 600 travelers all over the world. As such, we will probably not be able to include a photo of your child every day, and sometimes lack of cell coverage limits what we receive and can post. Rest assured that detailed reports on student well-being reach our staff every day and that you will be contacted should any important issues arise. So sit back, relax and enjoy the read.
For privacy reasons, the blog is password protected. Once trips have launched, please visit the Global Programs page in PowerSchool for the URL and password.