My son, travel and worry

My 18 year old son is very adventurous. He did the Three Peaks in under 24 hours at the age of 16. He did a 30 mile hike at the age of 14. And now he wants to travel.

To be honest, he might have liked a year or a few months to travel this year. But he went and surprised us all by getting the only apprenticeship he applied for. He absolutely loves his apprenticeship and wouldn’t change it for the world, but he still has the travel bug.

He’s interested in the world and wants to see as much of it as he can. He also likes planes, airports and flying in general. Since his A Levels, he’s had trips to Amsterdam (with his former girlfriend), Krakow (with my husband) and two cities in Germany – I forget which ones – on his own.

But he wanted to go away further and for much longer. So he’s going to Singapore and Australia.

His best friend from his first secondary school is currently in Australia. He’s been there since September and is planning to stay for a year. He’s loving it out there. He’s made friends, is doing labouring work and enjoying the climate. Meanwhile, my son had been talking for a while with his best friend from 6th form about going to Singapore. So he brought the two trips, and the two friends, together.

Later this week, all three boys will fly to Singapore. They plan to travel from there to Kuala Lumpur, before my son and his old friend travel on to Australia, and his other friend flies home. My son will then fly all the way home from Australia, via Singapore, on his own.

Singapore, Travel, My son, travel and worry

If you’re reading that, you probably think it sounds amazing. If you’re reading that and you happen to have a child in their late teens, you probably think it sounds scary. Because that’s exactly how I feel.

I have general worries about my son’s carelessness and disorganisation. He has planned the trip himself and has done it very well. But he’s the kind of person who is constantly losing stuff – his bank card, his wallet, his keys… How will he cope with being entirely responsible for his own passport, luggage, phone etc in foreign countries and on flights for three weeks?!

At least he’s got his friends with him most of the time. But he tells me they are more disorganised than him. I don’t know how that is even possible.

I also have minor worries about him becoming a victim of crime. He sees himself as invincible, but he doesn’t realise that young men like him are actually quite vulnerable. He isn’t worldly wise and he could become a victim – either of a violent crime or robbery or getting sucked in by someone’s story and inadvertently doing something stupid like carrying drugs.

On top of that, I have specific worries. My first worry was his peanut allergy. In Singapore in particular, he’s not going to know what he’s eating. Luckily, he only reacts if he actually eats peanuts – so touching them or being in the same room as somebody eating them isn’t a problem. But he only has to eat a fraction of a peanut for his face and throat to swell up. He has promised me he won’t eat any street food and he should have a friend with him at all times to stab him with the epipen, apart from when he’s flying home.

My next worry was the bush fires in Australia. I know Australia is a very big country and they weren’t that close to the cities, but would they spread?

And then came coronavirus.

I talked to him about the possibility of his trip being called off. I knew he would never call it off himself, but if the government put a ban on flying, he wouldn’t be able to go. Alternatively, Australia could put a ban on flights going in. At first, he wasn’t even willing to accept this might be a possibility, but he started to accept that it could be. He also thought about the precautions he could take. He bought some masks and plenty of hand gel. He promised to always be careful to wash his hands before eating.

Singapore was the source of a big outbreak at an international conference, which led to the virus being taken home to various countries.

My son has been keeping a very close eye on the situation and it appears that Singapore is doing a very good job of controlling the virus. Every day there are more people cured and released from hospital than new infections. But of course it’s still a worry. Aeroplanes and airports are among the most risky places because of the mix of nationalities and the very close proximity of so many people.

So I’m worried.

He came home from work and told me his colleagues didn’t want him to go. I asked if he’d told them that I didn’t want him to go either and he said, ‘But you do want me to go’. So either I’ve been doing a really good job of masking my worries or he’s just really ignorant of my feelings – it’s probably a bit of both.

I’d been telling everyone he was going ‘in three weeks’. The moment I realised that three weeks was actually two weeks was a big shock to me. I’ve checked and double checked his luggage. He’s got his and sanitiser and face masks (although welding ones, so I’m not sure they’re quite right). I’m going to see if he can squeeze some antibacterial wipes in for the table on the plane and any public transport. I’ve run through scenarios in my head so many times of him coming home and having to self-isolate in his room.

I know, deep down, that it’s all going to be fine. He’s going to have a brilliant time and he’s going to come home happy.

But I am still going to worry every single day until he does.


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Goodness, Sarah. I’m worried and he’s not even my son! I can only imagine how I’d be if it was Freya (in fact I’d probably book tickets and follow her around in secret. Hehe).

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    • Thanks very much! I think before coronavirus a lot of people would have thought I was silly to worry, but I suspect most people will understand my fears now. I’m scared of long haul flights, so there’s no way I would be following him around. I just hope I don’t have to fly out to rescue him from anywhere!

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    • Seize the day I guess, but yes, I’d be worried too. He sounds like a real get up and go person!

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      • Thanks very much. He is definitely a get up and go person!

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  2. Oh hun the hardest part of parenting is letting them go, letting them make decisions, but knowing they have to do both. Make sure he has good insurance, deep down I am sure he knows you will all be there for him in the unlikely event of the unexpected x

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    • Thanks very much, I will just be glad when he’s home in one piece. I’ve told him he must let us know if there’s a problem and we will do whatever we can to help him from the other side of the world.

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  3. Oh gosh, I feel for you, I would be just as worried even though I know we have to let them off into the world eventually. With all the risks and scares constantly being thrown at us via the media, there will probably never be an ideal time to let them off. I’m sure he’ll have an amazing time and I’m looking forward to hearing the updates.

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    • Thanks very much! I know that he will have the best time and, statistically, the risks are low, even with coronavirus. I’ll be very happy when he’s home in one piece, though!

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  4. I think every parent would be going through the same thing although I think the worst of the bush fires is probably over now isn’t it? Or has coronavirus just taken over the news instead? Hopefully he’ll be fine, not get quarantined over there, and be back before you know it with some great stories.

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    • Thanks very much. I think the worst of the bush fires is over. That worry seems very minor compared to coronavirus. I’ll just be glad when he’s home in one piece!

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  5. It will be amazing for your son but as I parent I would be worried too. My first thought was Eek! Coronavirus! It sounds like he is well prepared and knows the risks and how to keep himself safe. I hope he has a wonderful trip x

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    • Thanks very much, I do too! He’s so excited about it and promises me he knows what he’s doing. x

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  6. Oh I totally understand why you’re worried but honestly I bet it will be the making of him. I travelled for 5 weeks when I was 23. 2 Weeks with a friend and the rest on my own. I definitely grew up, and I was just like your son about being disorganised – I arrived home on the Sunday and had the first day in a new job on the Monday. Strangely, I wasn’t the only person joining that job on that day who had got back from Australia the day before! I know he’s only 18, but it’s the best time to get travelling out of his system and learn from it. And I’m sure that if the government are warning people not to travel, he won’t go. And that’s a life lesson too.

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    • Thanks very much, that is reassuring to hear! The rational part of me knows it will be an amazing experience for him, but the part of me that worries is far more dominant! x

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  7. It’s going to be an amazing experience for him but I feel your angst. Hopefully you can strike a good balance of communication and letting him find his independence. Looking back it seems very weird that I went off to East Africa for 3 months when I was 19 and my only communication with my parents was two faxes and a few postcards!

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    • Thanks very much. It is different now as we expect constant communication. That’s crazy that is all the communication you shared with your parents in three months. I find it weird looking back that I only used to phone my parents once a week from university. My son says he’s going to send me photos every day (but only to look after them in case he loses his phone!).

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  8. I can totally see why you are worried, there are lots of things to think about and it is such a long way a way. I found it hard when my eldest went to New Zealand for six months, it seemed horrendous to think of him travelling on his own and being so far away but it was ok. We didn’t have the Coronavirus to worry about then either. I do get your concerns but also it will be the most amazing experience and I am sure that he will absolutely love it

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    • Thanks very much, I’m sure he will! Six months is a long time for your son to be on the other side of the world. I know I would have struggled with that. My son’s friend has been in Australia for nearly six months now, although his mum flew out with him initially and was with him for the first month, which must have made it easier for both of them.

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