Trip Of A Lifetime?

Please read, ponder, and comment!

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Big One has the opportunity to go on an educational trip with her school next year.  The trip is 7 days in China and 2 days in Hong Kong.  There will be 18-24 kids and 2-3 teachers.  The trip is with EF Educational Tours.

I am having trouble deciding if I should agree to this.  Big One suggested I ask my blog friends what they think.  She said I had to “be nice” and not try to sway the comments with all of my opinions.  I think I also need to audit and make sure she isn’t anonymously adding comments and pretending they are from the blog-o-sphere.

She will be 17 at the time of the trip, most often makes good decisions, is a straight A student, has a job and is mostly responsible, spends time talking to me about minor parts of her day as well as important aspects of her life, has promised to connect with me every day while on the trip through the internet, and wants me to say she is awesome.  She has also agreed to pay half the amount for the trip.

She is not a saint.  She rolls her eyes at me a lot, only does chores because she has to, is self-centered and self-absorbed many days, and has made a few bad decisions. (big ones, but not life altering)  She says I have to remember those were mere moments in her life, not even chapters if I was writing about her life. (her words)  She is sassy at times, can destroy her clean room and my clean house in a matter of hours, and believes having someone do her laundry, make her meals, and drive her everywhere is a given in life.

I say these things not to tarnish her reputation with blog parents, but to show a balanced picture of this Big One.

The trip would be fabulous.  I get that.  It would be educational, interesting, fun, and life altering for her.  (and for me)  I have no doubt of the positive aspects of letting her go.

I have three concerns:

  1. If she goes on this trip, she will never be my baby again.
  2. If something goes wrong and she needs me, it would be days before I could get to her.
  3. She will be far away from me, in time and distance, and could lose her mind and make bad decisions.

In fairness to both sides of the argument, she says only #2 is a valid concern.  That is a teenager’s view of the world.  I am sure blog readers who are parents will agree with me on #1 and #3.

I know she is blessed to have this opportunity in front of her.  I know I am blessed to have a child willing to discuss this in detail and then leave me alone to take in the information, ponder it, and decide.  When I told her I needed to think for a few days and if she kept talking about it and asking what I was thinking I would be irritated, she said okay and has left me alone.

PLEASE COMMENT and give me your perspective.  I am 50/50 on this decision.  I know it is a big one for her and for me.  This is not a vote, but I do value the perspective of parents who have been there – either as the child on a trip, or the parent of a child who went on a trip and benefited from it, wished they had gone on a trip, or went and wished they had not.


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19 Responses to Trip Of A Lifetime?

  1. You have plenty advice above….. which i am curious to know whether has helped you make a decision yet?
    (Sorry only getting to this now, I ave been so busy, and had to step back from WordPress for a little break).
    I am a mom, but my little girl is only 4, and therefore hard to compare. And right now I get sad of the thought of her growing up. BUT it will happen!
    I can tell you that I went to London (from South Africa) for a year just after my 18th birthday. My parents initially said “no”, but i continued- saved my butt off and eventually bought my own plane ticket a month after i finished school. I made so many bad decisions when i was there! BUT i learn’t so very much. I would not change it for the world. I came home, and finnished a Business Degree and now have my own business. I question whether i woudl have had the balls if i was happier to be secure. Happier to know that I will get dinner every night (When i went i could not cook a single thing), have clean clothes (I had never had to worry about the washing), and a bed to sleep in (without worrying about paying for the lights and water). Who will ever know?
    HOWEVER what i do know is that we often make decisions for our kids based completely around ourselves. Those three questions are really all about you.
    If she needs you (2) she knows that it will be a few days, but you will be there. She will have others around her. As moms we feel that we need to be with our kids when thinsg go wrong. But if you remember as a child, when things went wrong- we were quite happy to have any responsible adult around us.
    In the office this morning we were talking about one of the ladies kids- ten year old little boy who had gotten very far in athletics, however didn’t quite make South African finals. The two little boys that had one that specific heat were 11 seconds ahead of 14 others. That is hectic. Steph (my friend in the office) spoke to the mother’s of the boys to find out “what they actually do training wise”. They train 300 days of the year. Now that is awesome. Super dedication. However, those boys do nothing else. I can not help but feel they will resent running one day, or even their parents. As parents we cause that situation. We decided that we are going to push their little butts off to get further and further. But that is all about us. As ten year olds, can they even comprehend competing in South African finals?
    Something to think about.
    Resentment can be carried by someone for a very long time. I am not saying she will resent you…. however once she finishes school, and gets into carsity- teh opportunity may never arise again. That will be a little sad.
    So trust her. Show her you believe that she will make good decsions, and if not she will live with teh consequences. Youw ill always be there for her. Let her go.

  2. yellowcat says:

    She will be with other students and adults.
    This is indeed the trip of a lifetime.
    All kids make bad decisions. It’s part of growing up.
    You raised her right, so trust that.
    Talk to her again about Stranger Danger and let her go.
    She will never forgive you if you don’t, she will never forget it if you do.

  3. Expressmom says:

    I’d let her go!
    Good luck!!!

  4. Ahhh, I have the answer. Yes, indeed, let her go. I had to let go of my little girl when she was the state president of the WV Student council and they flew to Las Vegas and stayed with a family. She was 17 and next thing you know she was studying in Gruanajuato, Mexico, Santander, Spain, worked a year in Japan and is now working in France for a year. She flew to London this past weekend and is now on a plane to Qatar and then to Osaka to see her boyfriend. And she is only 23. She is a seasoned traveler already. She is open to different peoples and cultures and I am so lucky I let her go. It is a chance of a lifetime. And trust me, when she gets older, she will be very appreciative. Between her brother’s escapades of his own, I am, I say, let her go. 🙂

  5. Rea says:

    I say let her go. Our job as parents is to raise kids who don’t need us. And they need to practice that on foreign trips like this before they start to run off with foreign men. She may come back a tad less self absorbed and with a little more appreciation for her light chores. I went on a trip to France at the same age. Returning with newly opened eyes, suddenly taking life’s opportunities seriously seemed more important than trips to the mall.

  6. Wow, what a difficult question. And what great answers from the previous commenters. My first thought was, no way! Don’t let her go that far away without you. But after reading through the comments, I’ve changed my mind. My children are young (4 and 2.5) and I don’t even let them cross the street by themselves. So your concern #1 almost made me cry!

    But I think it sounds like you and your daughter have a close and open relationship. And deep down you know she will always be your baby.

    She’s 17 now. In my eyes, that is very young. But the idea of daily check-ins with you seems great. It’ll give you a chance to start searching for fares if you sense a problem coming up! 🙂

    I think perhaps the strongest point made so far in the comments is that she’ll be off to college soon. And a trip like this could help prepare both you and her for that shift in your relationship. Learning a new way to trust each other, and maintain communication over the miles.

    I never traveled abroad as a kid or an adult — and I definitely have a yearning to do so. It sounds like it’s the right time for your daughter, and this trip is very important to her. Good luck with your decision. Maybe someday the two of you could go back together, and she could show you all around.

  7. Debbie says:

    I’m the mom of a sophomore in college. Like your daughter, he made straight A’s, participated in various activities, kept me informed about his life, but never rolled his eyes or got into any trouble! That said, I would have been anxious about letting him go as far away as China. Trip of a lifetime? No doubt. Supervised? Of course. Still, parents (conscientious parents) worry — it’s their job! He, too, had opportunities to go abroad (Australia, for one). He didn’t want to go that far away, and that was fine by me. Here’s the thing, though: it’s not going to be long before your daughter goes off to college, where she won’t be accessible to you daily. Then, you’ll have to trust that you’ve given her the foundation to succeed and the determination to soar. A week by herself will “grow her up” in ways you can’t see right now — the others on this trip probably will insist she pick up after herself, do her own laundry, make her own meals, etc. The teachers will, I assume, take the group to the safest places and try to keep them out of harm’s way. And she has offered to pay half the cost (that’s pretty responsible!). I suspect she’ll be so grateful if you let her go that she’ll be a “changed kid” upon her return! P.S. Do you know and like the other kids and teachers going on this trip? Will there be any parent chaperones? Will there be consequences if she doesn’t go?

  8. John Erickson says:

    In advance, I’m not a parent, so feel free to discount my view accordingly.
    I do agree that the number of escorts seems low. I would ask what their qualifications are – can they speak Chinese well enough to get assistance, will they be equipped for minor medical emergencies (including Montezuma’s revenge, or whatever the Chinese equivalent would be), and do they have backup communications/transportation plans? If they seem prepared, I would have to say let her go. It’s literally a once-in-a-lifetime trip. And I remember a Chicago teenager who went from honours student to failing classes and talking back to his parents. He got to go on a choir trip through the US South (granted, not nearly as remote as China), lived through it, and grew up to be a fairly reasonable adult. (Me, if you couldn’t guess.) I’d like to think my parents’ show of trust helped me grow up, and I think it’ll help your Big One.
    That’s my 2 cents, for what it’s worth. (More like a couple pesos! :D) Good luck with your decision!

  9. Zahara says:

    Wow, what thoughtful responses you’ve received! Isn’t the blogosphere wonderful?

    My vote is to let her go to China.

    Good Luck, workingtechMOM.

  10. TheIdiotSpeaketh says:

    I tried to envision my daughter when she was 17 and asked myself what I would have done if she approached me with this same opportunity. My personal gut instinct would be to let her go, partly as a reward for her good grades and behavior, and partly in the hopes that she would see some of the less fortunate aspects of the other areas of the world and would have a greater appreciation for what she has here at home. Good luck with whatever decision you make. I know this is not an easy one with a 17yr old.

  11. Lisa says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog earlier.

    I have a few comments on this issue. First, my husband went to China when he was in college. Granted, he was in college, but he said that for the most part they always had a guide with them, because the group was considered ambassadors from the US. In my brief trip to Hong Kong, I was attached to a tour guide the whole time. I know kids can figure out ways to escape, but in those countries in particular they will be watched as much as the watch.

    Second, one of my fondest memories of high school was when I went on a ten day trip to France. One of my biggest regrets (and honestly resentments) was that my parents pressured me not to accept a Jr. Year abroad opportunity. I’m not going to lie and say that everyone was angelic on that trip, but the experience was worth everything, and my parents never regretted it.

    Finally, I have worked with first year college students for a long time. I have seen many who were so protected throughout their high school careers, that as soon as they feel the freedom of college they go completely overboard. They do stupid, stupid things. The ones who are successful during that first year of college are the ones who have been given trust from their parents all along, even if in small doses. It sounds to me like your daughter has made mistakes, but that she recognizes them. It sounds like you have a good relationship with her, that is built on respect. So trust her. Give her this opportunity, but set some rules and expectations. If she does not live up to them, she will lose something truly important–your trust.

    I hope this helps in your decision making.

    • Lisa says:

      Sorry for the repeat message, I thought my computer had crapped out on me and messed up my send. I don’t work in technology. 😦

  12. Lisa says:

    Hi. Thanks for visiting my site. I actually do have some comments on this. My husband went to China on a trip when he was in college. Granted, he was in college and not in high school, but he said that, for the most part they always had a guide with them. They were ambassadors to United States, and they were treated as such. I doubt very much that China would allow too much free reign to high school students, nor allow anything bad to happen to them. Of course, that is not a guarantee, but I think your daughter would be safe in that sense.

    Also, one of my favorite memories of high school was my 10 day trip to France. I won’t lie and say that everyone was a perfect angel on the trip, but the memories and the experience were worthwhile and my parents never regretted it.

    One final point, I’ve seen a lot of students in their first years of college who were so protected in high school that the freedom of college becomes an overwhelming obstacle. That is when they make really stupid choices and continue to do so. It sounds to me like your daughter has made mistakes, but recognizes that she has. If you give her this trust and freedom now, maybe she will feel that trust and not make quite so many mistakes later. But, be honest with her about your concerns. Tell her you are trusting her to make smart decisions, and that if she fails at that, it will be a long time before she regains your trust.

    I hope this helps in your decision making.

  13. When I started reading your post I thought 2-3 teachers to 18-24 kids…that’s low. Then I read that your daughter is 17 and I immediately thought “let her go!”

    I’m the mother of a 15 year old, who has a late birthday, so she’ll be going to college at your daughter’s age. (Yea, I know, yikes!) Your daughter will be leaving you in another year or so for college herself.

    You describe an amazing, intelligent, responsible, teenager. And your motherly concerns are very valid:
    #1 It’s true that given this broadening of her horizons she will never be your baby again (but then, she’s already not, is she?)
    #2 Also true that it would take awhile to get to her if something goes wrong (but in all likelihood nothing will)
    #3 And yes she could lose her mind and make bad decisions (but she could being doing so right now at home with you and it sounds like she hasn’t yet)

    So I say yes, allow her to go. And then I request that you still be here blogging and available to me in another year or two when my big one wants to stretch her wings. I’ll need your help and encouragement to let her!

  14. Doodlemum says:

    I remember going to Germany when I was 13 on a school trip with one teacher in a minibus of about 20 kids. We all stayed at various families houses. I was treated well by my host family and got on well with the school kids and considering I spoke only one word of German, did quite well.
    I went to University in London when I was 19. I was very immature and very emotionally unstable at the time and it was the making of me. I’m glad I did it and I’m glad I was given the opportunity as I never realised how independent I could be.
    You have to give your daughter the chance to flourish, she may surprise you.
    I would certainly ensure she has good accommodation, food and all the basics so she can enjoy her experience.
    Your relationship will benefit too as she knows she has a Mum who trusts her and wants her to explore and see the world and then she can come back and tell you all about it. And she will, I’m sure.

  15. huffygirl says:

    I agree with Margaret that the ratio of students to teachers seems a little low. Things to consider along with that though – are the students staying with the group and chaperones most of the time, or do they go off on their own? Do you know others whose kids have done these trips in the past that you can talk to? Is the EF group reputable and well-respected?

    All that aside – she won’t be your baby in another year whether she goes on the trip or not. But speaking from experience, she will be your baby again when she goes off to college or her first job away from home, and finds out how much she misses and needs you.

    I never let my kids go on spring break type trips with friends while they were in high school, even though “everyone else got to do it,” but I did let them go on chaperoned groups trips (although not to another country). I think in the end your heart will tell you what to do, but in general it sounds like a good opportunity, and pretty safe compared to what some kids want to be allowed to do.

  16. Aligaeta says:

    As I write about my ‘freshie’, the generation z child, full of her sense of entitlement, if she were given this opportunity my answer to her would be unconditionally “No.”

    Had this opportunity been presented to her sister, my responsible one. I would let go, knowing how tremendous this opportunity will be for her, confident as I am in her wise choices.

    However, if the trip was to an area in uprise, the answer to anyone within my control would be “are you crazy?”

    But, “as two road diverge in the woods, I have taken the one less traveled and it has made all the difference.” Robert Frost. This has nothing to do with international travel of which I have never had such an opportunity. It has to do with what I have learned through my choices, some wise, some not so wise, but nonetheless enriching.

    Such an adventure might enhance the way she views the world and your well earned trust in her might make all the difference in your relationship as she approaches adulthood.

    Some poor choices made in the past, as long as they have proven to have been learning experiences should not hold you back in your decision. Irrationality, immaturity, and disrespect on the other-hand should not be rewarded with consent to venture the world.

    I hope you have been given ample time to weigh her worthiness for such an adventure. Also, be very careful as to the credibility of the chaperones. I have heard horror stories where least expected.

    And as for my two sons, I wouldn’t let them go either, due to immaturity and one was a partyer, and the other one too impulsive.

    So, out of my four at age 17 only one would have my permission and blessing to go.

    Big One, I am sure your mother will make the most responsible decision as a parent and I expect you show her respect for this consideration which ever way it turns out for you.

    -Another Mother

  17. After reading the first paragraph with the ratio of kids to teachers and not yet knowing how old she was, my immediate response was no for security/safety reasons alone. But, knowing now how old she is, my answer is yes. I skipped a grade of school and ended up in college, a thousand miles away from home, at 17. It was an important step toward independence. From your description of her, it sounds like she is a mature person, and this would surely be a trip of a lifetime. I understand concerns 1 and 2. I think as moms we will feel that way even when our kids are 65.

    Regarding the eye-rolling at mom, I still do that and I’m 45. 😉

  18. carlaat says:

    I’m not a parent, but I am a teacher and have taught for over 16 years, and my inclination is to let her go. These EF tours are great! We have teachers from our school who regularly take students to Spain, France, Italy and Costa Rica.

    I’ve been on tours in Europe with high school students and they always rise to the occasion, and they were also well supervised and never alone.

    About #1, in one way, she’s not going to be your baby much longer anyway, and in another way, she will always be your baby. So try not to worry about that part. Part of being a parent is teaching your child what they need to know so that they can grow up and manage things on their own. Which of course, you already know.

    I spent a semester in Kenya when I was 20 (yes, a bit older than your daughter). It was completely life changing for me and some of the people from that semester abroad are the people I’m still closest to today. I didn’t know until later how hard it was for my parents to let me go on that journey. More recently (and much much older, as in over 40) I hiked the entire Appalachian Trail alone. My mother was still worried about me, probably almost as much as if I had been 17. But she ended up being a huge support for me.

    I think that international travel, and lots of it, is one of the keys to world peace and general human understanding.

    I also think it’s great that your daughter will pay for half the trip.

    Good luck with your decision! Sorry for the long comment!

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