First school trip abroad (without you!)

My daughter has recently been away on a school trip to Belgium. Admittedly it was only an overnight stay, but it was the furthest she has been away from home and her family by herself. Her dad waved her off on the coach at 5:30 am on a Thursday morning and she was home by 9:00 pm the next evening (yes you did read that correctly 5:30 in the actual morning!) It’s a strange feeling watching your child leave home knowing that whatever happens in the next 40 hours will be completely out of your hands and ultimately out of your control. At this point, I was fretting about the coach journey during the torrential rain that had been forecast, and whether I had dosed her up with enough travel sickness pills to last the entire coach journey plus the ferry!

What Not to Pack

I always pack way too much stuff when I go away and end up never using half of it. So as my daughter was going to have to carry her own luggage during her school trip, I made a special effort to pack only the essentials. I also roped Carys into helping pack her own bag so that she would know where everything was when she arrived in Belgium and I wasn’t there to ‘find’ things for her! She took one pair of shoes, the ones on her feet, and a lightweight, waterproof coat that could easily be rolled up and put in her rucksack if not needed. Something she found useful was a simple plastic bag which she used to put any wet or dirty clothes in and meant she could identify clean clothes.

The facilities in the hotel meant that lots of sharing went on. Carys was in a room with at least five other girls who all helped each other out which was lovely and reassuring to hear. The one thing there wasn’t enough of to go around was plug sockets. This meant that charging phones was an issue. We had sent Carys with an emergency, disposable phone charger so this came in very handy. It was very lightweight and small and so did not take up very much space in her bag!

Our Top Tips

  • Pack your child’s bag together
  • Find out if your child will need their own towel or bedding
  • Pack a portable, disposable phone charger
  • Name EVERY item of clothing (my daughter still managed to mix up her leggings with her much, much taller friend!) I have found the quickest and easiest way to do this is by using a laundry Sharpie.
  • Take a photo on your child’s phone of any itinerary, important school information or emergency phone numbers so that they will always be able to find it should they need to.
  • Use the ‘Find my iPhone’ app to track your child’s homeward journey. This way you know when to set off from home to collect them on time and will know if they are running late!
  • Set up a WhatsApp group with other parents. My friend organised this when my daughter went away and it allowed us to share information with each other as and when our children rang/texted us with information. As some children are better at communicating than others, it meant that as parents we were kept informed and up to date.
  • Make sure that any items your child might need during their journey are packed in their hand luggage. Food, drink and travel sickness medication for example.

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