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How to help your teen prepare for their gap year

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Here Julie Hutchison of Standard Life gives her top ten tips for the parents of teens about to embark on gap year adventures.

Save for the big trip

It’s a great chance to help your kids learn how to save towards a goal and then to set a budget – these are key life skills that will stand them in really good stead when they start university or work too. 

Set a budget 

Encourage your child to set a daily budget for travel, food and accommodation, in addition to bigger costs like flights.

Reviewing finances

Help make sure your child has mobile banking set up, so they can manage their money on the go. Mobile banking also makes it easy for them to tell their bank where they are, so their account isn’t suspended while they are spending abroad.

Use prepaid cards

To save carrying cash around and help prevent ID theft too, consider loading up a prepaid card. There are special ones for travelling that can help to keep costs down and let you top up and check your balance online, or sometimes through SMS and mobile too.

Have their banking details

Remember to have your child’s banking details set up on your account, so you can transfer money if there is an emergency.

Do they have everything they need?

Check passports are up to date and remind them to apply for any visas they might need well in advance, so there are no last minute panic or extra fees for an express service.

Keeping in touch and checking up

You’ll want to make sure you can keep in touch while your teen is away. It can be very expensive calling abroad, so it might make sense to buy a new mobile sim in the country they are travelling to.

Use mobile apps to communicate to save the pennies

Apps like Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp and Viber can help fellow users communicate for free or at a reduced cost when on the go. Make sure to test drive these before they head off, to make sure they are working and you both understand the technology too.

Packing light 

As difficult as it is, encourage your child to pack light and to think twice about making heavy purchases while away to avoid getting any frights at check in. Remember, if they do want to buy things, then it could be cheaper to mail things back than pay for a higher luggage allowance.

Travel insurance

Check out gap year travel insurance online to find the best deal. Make sure it continues to cover your child for any trips home, working overseas and adventure sports like skiing or rafting.

Julie Hutchison is family finance expert at Standard Life. 

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