Aren Philly Art Museum

“Mom,” my 11-year-old son asked, “can I go to film camp in New York this summer?”

Film camp? You want to fly to Newark alone? Stay in the Big Apple without your parents?

Even though we’ve been traveling as a family since Aren was a month old, I heard myself whispering the answer reflexively, like the native New Yorker I am: “Fuggetaboutit.”

It wasn’t my final answer. Later today, I’ll tell you if we let Aren go to film camp in Manhattan. Watch the comments for details and tune in to the Away is Home show using the hashtags #familytravel and #awayishome on your favorite social network at 11 a.m. EDT.

The travel industry term for a child ages 4 to 17 traveling without adult supervision is “Unaccompanied Minor.” But just because they fit the age doesn’t mean they’re really ready. How do you know if your child is fit for solo travel?

Maturity. Is the child able to follow the directions of another put in charge without trying anything funny, like ditching a companion (been there) then it’s a good sign. Also, can the kid alert a responsible adult if someone — like a seatmate or another passenger — tried something inappropriate?

Fear factor. Is your child confident enough to take the trip without being afraid? After all, you’re going to warn them about strangers, who they can and can’t talk to and to be careful about the information they tell others. That would stress me out!

Are they comfortable with travel? Have they done this kind of thing before? Do they know where to stow their bags and how to ask for help from a flight attendant? Do they know how to buy food? Even having experience in finding the bathroom or what it’s like to walk through a terminal can be helpful.

We listened attentively to Aren’s pleas to send him to Manhattan, to become the next Steven Spielberg. He made a good case. He’d been to New York City several times and he’s a whiz around Final Cut. And then we made our decision.

Can you guess what we said?

Would you let this tween travel alone?

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