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Monday, November 19, 2012

Schoolies Survival Guide for Parents and Students

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With end of school celebrations in full swing, now is the time for parents to prepare their teen for the rite-of-passage that is schoolies. With some simple preventive measures, parents can ensure their teen's trip is as enjoyable as it safe, and at the same time ease their own worries.

One of the easiest ways to plan a safe schoolies trip is to book a chaperoned experience, at a designated 'schoolies only' destination.

One of the most popular chaperoned schoolies trips, accounting for 70 per cent of their 2012 sales, is Unleashed Travel's Fiji island tours.

Jot Lynas, CEO of Unleashed Travel, said, "It's not surprising that our Fiji charter island tours are our number one choice for schoolies. We offer all that a school leaver could want for their end of year trip; a party atmosphere complete with our own resident DJs, resort facilities, water sports,

team activities and the beautiful surrounds of Fiji for relaxation in the sun. But by far the main attraction is the schoolies exclusivity. Our schoolies just want one last group experience free from outside influences."

Unleashed Travel's Fiji packages are situated on four different resorts - Sonaisali, Beachcomber, Plantation Island and Mana Island. The resorts are carefully researched and strict controls are placed on all quests, to ensure all only HSC school leavers aged 17-18 years are allowed into the facilities. There are also strict controls on alcohol consumption, and guests are not permitted to bring in any outside alcohol. Unleashed Travel also provides their own staff to organise activities and guide schoolies no matter what time, 24 hours 7 days a week.

Prior to any trip, Unleashed Travel holds information nights to assist parents and students prepare for their schoolies holiday. Below Jot has listed the top five tips he shares with parents and schoolies to help them make the most of the experience.

Tips for Parents:

Take steps to alleviate your opportunities to worry: Parents have a habit of imagining the worst when their kids are out of their sight. Having a copy of your school leaver's itinerary will help alleviate some of the stress as you will know where they are.

Plan mental rest periods: There are many reasons for your teenager to not answer their phone while they are away.  A simple solution is to request the mobile numbers of at least two travelling companions and their accommodation and/or tour provider. Also agree in advance on a time-frame for calls, so if you haven't heard from them in an agreed time-period, you can call their friends without reprisal.

Schedule time to 'talk':  While getting through to your teen is often the problem, most will respond to a heart-felt conversation about their hopes and fears for their upcoming celebrations. Use this as a spring board to convey your life wisdom on how to get the most out of their experience, which of course, includes safety as the number one priority.

Be part of the celebrations: Don't leave all the planning to your soon-to-be-school-leaver. Take an active role in planning their trip to guide them on making the right choices for their holiday. You're likely to have more influence over where and who they travel with and be able to recommend an experience that is both safe and rewarding.

Trust yourself: You will sleep much better through the week if you trust the strategies you have put in place to ensure your teens safety while away. So relax and enjoy the time off. Schoolies can also be an ideal time for parents to relax and recharge their batteries.

Tips for School leavers:

  • Don't do anything you wouldn't do at home: If you wouldn't do something at home, you shouldn't do it period. While you may have been looking forward to the freedom of the schoolies experience, it's important to remember that common sense is the same no matter how far away from home you are.
  • ell people your plans and stick to them: One of the cardinal rules when travelling is to inform your travel companions of where you are headed and what time you will be back. If you need time alone or want to try something new, make sure you let someone know where you are going, when you will be back. And be back when you say you will.
  • You have a mobile phone – use it: Keep your phone with you at all times and ensure it is has a fully charged battery before your leave your accommodation. On overseas trips it's ideal to purchase a local sim card and encourage your travelling companions to do the same. A mobile ensures you can call for help when you need it (and others can reach you), and it keeps you in the loop on new activities, so you don't miss out on any of the fun.
  • Plan to have fun: To enjoy schoolies you need to be organised and have back-up plans in case things go wrong.  There are three things you MUST do. One. Know all of your emergency contacts. Don't just store them in your phone, write them out just in case and leave them in your wallet or luggage. Memorise at least one number. Two. Have at least two sources of money placed in different locations, such as an extra credit or debit card in your luggage. Three. Store your valuables properly. On overseas trips this means leaving your passport, debit/credit cards and any large sums of money in the hotel safe, not shoved under your bed. Travel insurance is also an absolute must for all overseas holidays.
  • Lose yourself, but don't get lost: Partying and meeting new people are likely to be your top priorities. While it's great to be open to new people and experiences they may offer, don't let your guard down. If you make self-care and safety your number one priority you will have all of the fun, with very little repercussion.

For further information on Fiji and Unleashed Travel's safer schoolies options, visit:

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