The Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered

My child wants to travel to the other side of the world - will she be safe?

Q Help – it's the moment I've dreaded as a parent. Anna, my 18-year-old, wants to go backpacking in Australia. She has some idea of what she wants to do, and is planning to fly out in January for three months, via Singapore, with three internal flights. Where should she go? Where shouldn't she go? What sort of accommodation should she stay in?

Caroline Gray, Tonbridge

A At this time of year, many parents are facing up to the fact that their child has grown up and is about to travel to the other side of the world. First, I am going to suggest a plan for Anna, and then try to tackle your anxieties.

The gap-year trail to Australia is well worn, and there is an established infrastructure for budget travel. The second half of January is a perfect time to go, as it's the height of summer Down Under – and fares will be cheaper after Christmas. I suggest Anna has an Asian adventure en route, and a Californian break on the way home.

The obvious place for UK-based, under-26 travellers to buy a long-haul ticket is STA Travel (0870 160 6070; www.statravel.co.uk). It has branches worldwide – with 100 in Australia – and a helpline offering a 24-hour service for anything from changed bookings to lost possessions. A decent travel insurance policy is essential and it is worth shopping around for the best deal. Some annual family policies include cover for offspring over 17 travelling on their own – but watch for limits on the length of any single trip.

The main expense will be the plane ticket. I recommend two of the most reputable airlines, British Airways and Qantas – which should help ease concerns. The basic price, excluding flights in Australia, is £955.

An overnight flight from Heathrow to Bangkok will deposit Anna in the Thai capital as the evening rush hour gets going. The backpacker network in Thailand is easy to plug into. Heading south, she should visit the beautiful area around Krabi, and may well be drawn to Phi Phi Island – it's like a students' union on a tropical island, but with better food and drink.

Moving to Malaysia, Anna will need to adjust to the rather stricter moral code in this Islamic country. The east coast of the peninsula is more traditional and unspoilt than the west, and offers the option of a a trip to Tioman Island as a detour on the way to Singapore – a good place to rest up for a few days before the flight to Perth. The Western Australian capital is a great place to acclimatise to Aussie life, and discover the joys of backpacker hostels. Here, Anna could pick up a temporary job. The essential guide for the working traveller is Susan Griffith's Work Your Way Around the World, (£12.95 from Vacation Work, 01865 241978; www.vacationwork.co.uk).

From Perth, it is a long way to anywhere, so internal flights come in handy: STA Travel sells them for around £80-£115 per flight. It may be cheaper to book a no-frills flight well ahead with Virgin Blue (00 61 7 3295 2296, www.virginblue.com.au), but these will be expensive to change if Anna's plans alter.

I'd urge her not to try to pack in too much; Australia is a huge country that demands se veral visits. So she could take a flight to Adelaide, overland down the coast to Victoria, and along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. Australia's second city is a great place to immerse herself in the culture.

Anna should leave the fabulous harbour city of Sydney until last. It's a brilliant place to tap into the backpacker circuit, and to organise a trip up to beautiful, lazy Byron Bay, near the Queensland border.

From Sydney, it's a 14-hour flight across the Pacific to Los Angeles. On the BA/Qantas ticket, Anna could travel up the coast to San Francisco and fly home from there, or down to San Diego and have a Mexican adventure in Baja California.

About those worries. There have been some dreadful, high-profile murders of backpackers in Australia. But given the half-million or so British travellers on the gap year circuit at any one time, the risks of violent attack are tiny. A more significant danger is of an accident – on the risky roads, or in the sea. But Anna is almost certain to return healthy, happy and with an appetite for more travel.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Management Accountant

    28,000 to 32,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our client, a hospitality busi...

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive

    £20 - 24k: Guru Careers: A Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive is needed t...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?