ADULTS ON HOLIDAY
Think about what you do when you’re away on holiday. Many adults see partying and alcohol as a natural part of their holiday. Once the bags are checked in, the airport bar tends to fill up pretty quickly, even if it’s only 6 a.m. And once you’re on the plane, spirits, wine and beer are on sale, and once you’ve reached your holiday destination how about a celebratory drink on the balcony? Alcohol norms that apply back home often disappear when you’re on holiday. Having a beer with your lunch and a drink in the afternoon is perfectly natural for many adults. Not everyone does this when they’re on holiday, of course, but it’s very common, nonetheless. So it’s hardly surprising if teenagers think about alcohol when they think about travel. Think about what you’re doing and remember that you’re a role model for your child.
Everyone was drinking like crazy when we went on an All Inclusive. You could just go up to the tap and help yourself to beer. Even the kids were doing it. No one was keeping track.
Sasha, aged 15, Örebro
THERE’S NO ONE TO SAY, “ENOUGH”
A lot of organised trips are designed to appeal to party-mad young people. Alcohol and drugs are both widely available and there are no adults standing in their way. The youngsters can just go into the first bar they see and get drunk, whether they head for ”Bar Street” on Rhodes, to a ski resort in the Alps, or to Malta to study English. Even if your teenager would rather not drink, travelling without adults is risky, so it’s up to you, as a parent, to weigh up the positive experience of independent travel against the risk of something going wrong.
Most of the big language course travel firms have a total ban on alcohol and narcotics. Anyone caught with drugs will be sent home at their own expense and will not get a refund for the course. But it’s worth bearing in mind that the organisers can’t keep an eye on every single teenager, 24/7.
There are, alongside the well-known travel firms, a number of companies specialising in travel for young people, where partying and alcohol are often the main attraction. Most travel firms have an age limit of 18, but travelling unaccompanied when you’re under 18 is still possible if you can show a signed authorisation from your parents.
TALK ABOUT THE RISKS
You’re the parent, so it’s obviously you who decides, but you don’t have to automatically say, “No” without thinking about it. Travelling independently can be both exciting and educational. Discuss what might happen and how important it is that they take care of themselves. You also need to make it clear to your teenager that people from different cultures may have a completely different attitude towards alcohol and that the way they handle drunken youngsters might be a lot different from what they’re used to.
When I was abroad, I could walk into the nearest grocery store and buy spirits and cider. Nobody said anything or stopped me.
Amira, aged 15, Gothenburg
NO, EVERYONE ELSE DOES NOT GET TO GO
There’s nothing odd or wrong about saying “No” to a teenager who wants to go on holiday with their friends. You have every right to refuse. You’re not a cruel parent, even if your teenager’s friends are being allowed to go and you have said, “No.” Consider how often that’s actually true – that everyone else is allowed to do something – and about how often it works out that way because that’s what every child says to their slightly dubious parents.