Children and young people travelling alone

Issues you may wish to consider, such as policies travel companies may have on children travelling alone and things you could do to help your child prepare for a trip abroad

Children travelling alone

Is your child ready to go on a long journey alone? While there may be further arrangements that you or your child will want to consider for their safety, here are some of the key issues to think about.


Check with individual ferry companies about their policy on children travelling unaccompanied.


Before booking flights, you should check with the airline what their policy is on children travelling unaccompanied.

Considerations for younger children:

  • write your telephone number, address and the contact details of who the child is meeting
  • give them toys and games to play in their carry-on luggage

For all children:

  • some countries' immigration departments require additional documents for all children travelling into, out of or transiting their country - the extra documents that you may require varies depending on the country, so make sure you have everything before the travel date                                                        
    IATA Travel Centre can advise you on what documents are required for each country
  • passports for children under 16 are only valid for five years, make sure their passport is valid before they travel and that you have obtained any visas necessary for the journey (check with the Embassy of the country to which they are travelling or travelling through)
  • make sure they have a photocopy (or two) of their passport that is kept away from their actual passport - you could keep a copy too that could be faxed anywhere around the world if necessary
  • give your child a copy of their travel arrangements (including return flight details)
  • make sure that your contact details are written in your child's passport
  • make sure they have the name, address and telephone number of the person they are meant to meet at the airport - advise them to go with no one else
  • make sure that your child also has the address of the nearest British Embassy or Consulate in case they need to contact someone urgently
  • give your child some money to phone you if they need to before they leave the airport — make sure they know the country code

You should also make sure the person collecting your child knows their flight details.


The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website is well worth visiting for further details that should be considered before travelling (not every country has this information published on the website).

Young people on holiday alone

Thousands of teenagers go on holiday without their parents every year and have a great and perfectly safe time.

Preparation before leaving

While there may be further arrangements that you or your child will want to consider for their safety, below are some key things you should make sure your child does before leaving:

  • check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel Advice website (link below) and make sure your child knows the address of the nearest British Embassy or Consulate in case of emergency
  • arrange travel insurance and check that the cover is suitable
  • read a good guidebook to educate them about their destination and its local laws and customs
  • make sure they have a valid passport and necessary visas
  • check what vaccinations are needed at least six weeks before going
  • make sure the travel agent being used is an ABTA member and, if flying, make sure the holiday package is ATOL protected
  • make copies of their passport, insurance policy plus 24-hour emergency number and travel documents - and make sure that copies are left with family and friends
  • take enough money for the trip and some back-up funds, for example, travellers cheques, sterling or US dollars
  • leave a copy of the itinerary and a way of contacting them with family and friends

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