When Your Teen Wants To Travel Alone Without Parents
When researching for this article I stumbled across a great website called Travel For Teens.com that offers specialized trips for teenagers. The President of the company, Pat Maloney, wrote something that stuck out to me:
Teens have a wonderful window for growth and transformation into citizens of the world. They can truly live other cultures with a balance of the familiar and the new.
I was drawn in. And as much as the thought of allowing my teen-aged son to travel without me triggers every maternal instinct within me to resist for the sake of protecting him, the truth of the above statement soothes my nerves as I remember the life changing affects that travelling had upon me as a teenager. Children and young people often help to make this world a better place in profound ways because they are often free of the prejudices and inhibitions that we as adults accumulate of the years. The above statement, coupled with my memories of positive experiences when travelling, caused me to revisit translations of the Holy Quran concerning travelling which provides a similar perspective.
There is a command within the Quran in Surah Ankabut 29:20 about travelling which reads:
“Say: “Travel in the land and see how (Allâh) originated the creation. Then Allâh will bring forth another creation. . Verily, Allâh determines a standard for everything.”
Generally, travelling can be an enlightening experience that can help out teenagers to grow while giving them a taste of independence. It can also expose them to the nature of responsibility which can build their character and although we as parents may have concerns about letting our young adults out into the world, it has been done before and here are some tips for ensuring that your teen has a safe trip:
Remember to pray and to remind your teen to pray.
He/she should pray before embarking upon the trip, should do their best to adhere to the guidelines of salaat for the traveler while away, and they should also pray upon returning. Some duas that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) recommended when travelling are:
Dua for another person undertaken a journey
When some other person undertakes a journey, recite the following dua:
“May Allah make piety part of your journey, forgive your sins and fulfil the purpose of the journey.”(Tirmidhi)
Dua at the time of his departure:
“O Allah, let his journey be covered quickly and most easily.” (Tirmidhi)
Dua when alighting off a vehicle:
When alighting off a vehicle recite:
“I seek refuge in Allah by His complete words from the evils of the creation.” By reciting this dua, no harm will befall on the person. (Muslim)
Research airlines for determining those which are the safest and to learn what their policies are for minors travelling without an adult.
Also, stay away from small regional jet planes whenever possible as statistics from the Department of Transportation have indicated that there may be issues regarding flight delays and missing luggage. In addition, choose direct flights despite the fact that they may be more expensive because they minimize the risk of problems caused by connecting flights.
If you are forced to purchase flights with connections, try to schedule them through a smaller airport for easier navigation and allow plenty of time (at least 90 minutes) between flights in case of delays.
Inform the reservations department that your child will be traveling alone. Call a day before departure to make sure that your child is listed as an unaccompanied minor.
Discuss a travel plan with your child.
Make sure that you and your teen have contact phone numbers for those who your teenager will be travelling with. Confirm that the person picking up/meeting your teen at the destination has a cell phone or quick access to a phone 24-hour a day, 7 days a week. Review the flight/travel itinerary with your teen, make sure that he/she is aware of important addresses and locations of the destination, and confirm emergency phone numbers for family and friends with your teen.
Ensure that your teen keeps important items and money safe and readily available.
Explain the importance and responsibility of keeping identification like passports and id cards on his or her person in a safe place like a wallet or billfold, and if your child is old enough, have them carry a temporary credit card so they’ll have money in case of an emergency.
Stay connected with your teen throughout the trip.
Arrange to speak to your teen regularly at times that are mutually agreed upon, even if he/she objects. Make sure that your teen has a travel backpack with important items, entertainment, a jacket and a complete change of clothes – just in case.
Remain calm and prayerful.
Keep a positive attitude and remain composed. Your child senses your feelings and it’s important for them to relax. If a problem arises, keep your cool and don’t panic.
If possible, make sure that your teen travels with a group or a mahram.
For safety, your teen, male or female, should not vacation at a destination alone. Travelling for education, for camp or to visit relatives are the exception as there are likely responsible adults always available. Set safety rules and travelling standards with your young adult and ensure that they are with someone trustworthy at all times when vacationing or travelling for recreation. In addition, for teenaged girls, there are several hadiths that state that women should travel with a mahram:
Abu Huraira narrates that the Messenger of Allah said:
“It is unlawful for a woman who believes in Allah and the last day that she travels the distance of one day and one night without a Mahram accompanying her.”(Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1038).
Abu Said al-Hudri narrates that the Messenger of Allah said:
“Let no woman travel for more than two days unless her husband or a Mahram is with her.” (Sahih Muslim).
According to the Abd Allah ibn Umar narration, the Messenger of Allah said:
“A woman can not travel for three days except with a Mahram (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1036 & Sahih Muslim).
According to the Ibn Abbas’ narration, the Messenger of Allah said:
“A woman must not travel except with a Mahram and a man must not enter upon her except if she has a Mahram. After this command of the Messenger, one of His companions stood up and said:“O Messenger of Allah! I decided to go fighting with that and that fighter; but my wife wants to go to Hajj.
The Messenger of Allah said: “Go with your wife!”(Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1763).
It is important to note also, however, that the hadith also indicates that a woman will be able to travel alone:
Adeey b. Hâtim narrated:
I was beside to the Messenger of Allah. A man came and complained for his poverty. Later, another one came and complained for the bandits that waylaid people in order to rub them. The Messenger of Allah said:
– “Adeey, have you seen Heerah?”
– No. I have not seen, but I heard about it.
– “If you would live long enough, you will see a woman, inside her strongbox over the camel, traveling from Heerah at Ka’ba for pilgrimage, without fearing from anything, except Allah.” He said.
I was surprised and I said to myself: “What with the bandits of Tai tribe, those who fired the sedition and mischief all over the town?
Adiyy continued his words: I saw the woman traveling from Heereh and walking around Ka’ba, without fearing from anyone, except Allah. (Bukhari, Stories, 25)