It's not easy letting our children travel without us. When we do, it's vital to ensure they're protected. Children's Travel Insurance gives you peace of mind and covers any eventuality, caring for your child when you may not be able to.
Most companies will insure children travelling alone, but types of policy, levels of cover and even the policy names vary, so it can be tricky to decide which one to choose. If you decide to buy a policy, you'll need to double check the policy offers the right cover for your child.
Children travelling alone usually need 'Single Trip' travel insurance. Treat it as you would your own holiday insurance; ensure your child has an appropriate level of cover for the essentials, such as personal accident, cancellation and curtailment, then add any extras they'll require.
If your family travel frequently then your existing Family Annual Multi-Trip policy may cover your child to travel independently. This is usually the easiest and cheapest option as you will not need to buy a separate policy. Check the terms of your policy, as not all companies offer it and some specify that the child has to be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Read your policy documents or contact your insurance provider directly to be sure.
Your child's age matters when buying Children's Travel Insurance. The majority of companies class a child as under 18 but some only offer policies for children under 16.
If your child is celebrating a birthday whilst they are away, check with the company if it will affect your cover. But beware, just because it won't affect one company's policy doesn't mean it won't affect the next, so remember to check with each company and avoid any unwanted surprises.
If your child will be doing any activities or sports on the trip it is important to make sure they are included in the policy. Kids will be kids so most companies will have a list of activities already included in children's travel insurance, which you can find in the terms and conditions.
If the activity is not listed, you will need to add it to the policy, so prepare to pay a premium for higher risk activities.
Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding require extra cover. Winter Sports Cover is normally listed as an extra that you can just add straight to the policy with minimal hassle.
Whatever the activity, it is worth paying the extra to cover Medical Expenses for £1-2million. In the unlikely event of an accident your child will receive comprehensive care and you won't be landed with a medical bill.
Select the right insurance options for your child's needs and don't forget, if you're unsure about anything give the company a call.
Check out our own Children's Travel Insurance for children under 18 and benefit from Medical Expenses Cover of up to £10 million, 24hr emergency assistance and all the essentials for your child for as little as £7.22 per week.
Travel insurance for children going on a school trip is pretty much always covered by the school. This will normally be included in a school package the school buys from a third party, or will be bought as a group travel insurance policy separately. Either way, you can find out what your child is covered for by contacting the school.
This also usually applies to any group trips and excursion you buy for your kids privately, including summer camps and adventure weekends. The company will normally tell you if you need to buy any insurance for your child yourself, but always check the booking to be 100% certain.
If you do need to buy travel insurance for your child going away on a trip, you can buy normal Children's Travel Insurance and add on any extra activities.
The age children can fly on their own varies from airline to airline. Some airlines will actually not allow unaccompanied minors to travel at all. The youngest age a child would be allowed to travel unaccompanied is 5 years old.
All the different rules make it tricky to work out what age your child needs to be. To make it easier, we have put together a list of the minimum ages each popular airline allows children to fly unaccompanied and a handy guide to what airlines offer for unaccompanied minors.
Children must be 5 and over to travel unaccompanied with British Airways. However, children between 5 and 12 years old can only do so if they use British Airway's 'Skyflyer Solo' service. For more information on this service check out our guide to unaccompanied minor services at the bottom of this page.Thomas Cook
Children can only travel unaccompanied by an adult over the age of 14 on selected routes.Thomson Airways
Thomson will only allow children of 14 and over to travel alone on their flights.Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic is happy to accept children travelling alone over the age of 5, on the condition that the parent/guardian stays in the airport until they are sure that the flight has departed. They will also charge any unaccompanied minors adult fare.Ryanair
Ryanair does not allow any children under the age of 16 years old to travel unaccompanied on their flights. Every child under 16 must be accompanied by a passenger over the age of 16.Easyjet
Children need to be older than 14 years to fly alone with Easyjet. If they are between 14 and 15 this is provided that they are not travelling with children under 13. Children 16 and over can travel on their own, no problem.Monarch
Monarch does not allow any unaccompanied minors onboard their flights. You must be aged 16 and over to fly with Monarch or accompanied by someone over the age of 16.Flybe
Children must be older than 5 years old to travel unaccompanied with Flybe. If they are aged between 5 years and 11 years 364 days a named custodian must be present at each end of the flight.Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus only accepts unaccompanied minors 12 years and over on their flights. They will not provide any special assistance for any unaccompanied children.
For more terms and conditions of travel, check each airline's website.
*Information correct at time of writing, subject to change.
Dropping your child off at the airport can be a daunting experience. Will they get on the right plane? What if they get lost? What if they get scared onboard? It may have even been the first time they have gone anywhere without you. So what can you do to make sure your little one (or bigger one!) makes it to their destination safely and happily?
The answer is simple. Many popular airlines offer a service where they will supervise and accompany your child from check-in all the way to arrivals, dissolving those fears and placing your child in safe hands. You will need to let the airline know in advance, whether it is booking a service online or arranging it by phone and it will often involve a small fee, but it is a valuable and reassuring service not to miss out on if your child is going to be flying alone.
Each airline will vary in price, requirements and exceptions, so you will need to choose one that suits your child's needs, circumstances and budget. Make sure you check the exceptions and conditions of the service before booking, which you can do by visiting the airline's website or phoning their customer support line.
Check out the list below for key details on what popular airlines are offering for unaccompanied minors.British Airways
British Airways offers their 'Skyflyer Solo Service' for children between 5 and 18 years. British Airways staff will accompany your child the entire journey until they are collected at arrivals by your nominated adult or transferring airline.
If they are between 5 and 12 years they are only allowed to fly alone if they use this service (unless they are accompanied by someone over the age of 16 years).
Prices are between USD 125 and USD 150 per child each way (between roughly £80 and £100), which will be converted to pounds on the day of booking.
You will need to complete a declaration form at the airport (with the following information) and verify your child's travel documents before they can check in. You will also have to stay at the airport until you can confirm your child's flight has departed.
This service can only be booked through their contact centre or with your travel agent and cannot be booked online. It must be made at the same time as your flight booking and at least 48 hours before they fly.Easyjet
Easyjet unfortunately do not currently provide an advertised Unaccompanied Minor service. It is always worth contacting the support centre to see if there's anything they can do to support your child throughout the journey. Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic will look after any unaccompanied children between the ages of 5 and 15 for the entire journey.
Virgin Atlantic will automatically charge any unaccompanied children at adult fare for providing this service.
You will need to inform Virgin Atlantic your child will be travelling alone when you book, which you can do by calling their reservations team or through your travel agent. You will not be able to book online.
They will ask you to fill out a 'Declaration of Indemnity' form with two parts: one which you send off to their UK support centre and one which must be present at check-in (or they will be refused travel).
Your child must be brought to check in by a parent or guardian.Flybe
You can book Flybe's Unaccompanied Minor Service by phoning their Customer Call Centre on 0371 700 2000 before you make the flight booking.
Flybe offer this service to unaccompanied children between the age of 5 and 11 years 364 days, but will offer it to children between the ages of 12 and 16 years upon request.
They charge a supervisory fee of £39 per child per flight for providing this service.
You can check details of the care provided at the time of booking the service.
You will need to provide the names and contact details of both the person taking your child to the departure airport and the person collecting them at the destination airport. The person presenting the child at departure must remain within the airport 15 minutes after departure.
Identification of both persons will be checked upon arrival. If your child is not travelling with a parent or legal guardian, he or she must also carry their own identification. You will also need to send your own photo identification and confirm that your child is travelling with your consent.Thomson Airways
Unfortunately Thomson Airways does not provide any kind of Unaccompanied Minor service at this time.Monarch
Unfortunately, Monarch will not carry unaccompanied minors onboard their flights. So that's anyone under the age of 16. They no longer offer an escort service.Thomas Cook
Thomas Cook offers a limited service for unaccompanied children.
As long as they are over the age of 14 years old, they will be permitted to travel alone, but you (the parent/guardian) must complete a Young Persons Declaration and call the contact centre to discuss your booking with an agent.
Your child will be pre-seated near the front or rear so that they can be watched over by the cabin crew. This is free of charge.Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus does not permit any children under the age of 12 years old to travel unaccompanied. They will accept unaccompanied minors between the ages of 12 and 15 years old inclusive, but will not provide any kind of special assistance. You will need to complete a Form of Indemnity (as a parent/guardian) at each airport of departure.
So there is a rough outline of general rules and services offered by all the popular airlines.
If your child will be flying abroad on their own, don't forget they will need Children's Travel Insurance for the duration of their holiday.
Click here for a guide on how to choose the best Children's Travel Insurance for your child.
*Information correct at time of writing, subject to change.
There is no straightforward answer to this question. Whilst there is no minimum age for unaccompanied children, train companies are also not responsible for their unaccompanied minor passengers. This means your child is still entirely your responsibility and in your care, even when they are on the train and possibly half way across the country.
It therefore comes down to your own judgement on whether your child should be travelling on their own on a train. Even if you ask the guard to look after them, it is still legally not his or her responsibility to ensure your child is safe and secure.
So use your judgement wisely; is your child mature enough to be travelling on their own? Will they remember what they have to do and where they go? Is someone meeting them on the other side? Do they know not to speak to strangers?
If you do decide to let you child travel on a train on their own, make sure they know what they need to be aware of and are completely comfortable travelling alone.
Below is a list of our top 10 safety tips for children travelling alone on trains.
If your child is going to be flying alone, it is likely that you will need to complete a travel consent form before they can travel. Most airlines these days will have a form of their own, which they will ask you to complete either at the airport before departure or ask you to send to their support centre. Others may just ask you to provide your own letter of written consent.
If your airline asks for written parental authorisation it is essential that you do so. If you don't, they will not allow your child to travel.
In the list below, you can find out which airlines require travel consent forms and where you can find them.British Airways
British Airways requires you to fill out a declaration form at the airport before your child can travel. Remember to ask for one before you check in. You will need to provide this information.
Make sure you have a note of all this information, so when it comes to filling out the form you have it all ready.Easyjet
You do not need to provide any kind of release form or authorisation for your child to travel unaccompanied with easyjet.Virgin Atlantic
In order for your child to fly abroad with Virgin Atlantic, you will need to complete a 'Declaration of Indemnity' form. This is just written agreement that Virgin Atlantic is exempt from any responsibility of your child. This can only be given by a parent or guardian.
This form has two parts and will sent to you by Virgin Atlantic; one of which you need to send to their UK support centre and the other which you will need to present at check-in. If either of these parts is not completed, your child will be refused travel, so make sure you send off the first part well ahead of time and you have the other part ready at least the day before departure.Flybe
Flybe requires you to send them confirmation that your child is travelling with your permission (including your photo identification). This means you will need to send a letter of parental consent. Whilst you are free to write your own, we suggest using this free travel consent form provided by the government as a template. All you need to do is add in your details.Thomas Cook
With Thomas Cook you will need to complete their own 'Young Persons Declaration' form. This is written confirmation that you accept full parental responsibility of your child and give permission for them to travel abroad. It will needed to be completed before you book. You can find the form on their website.Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus also requires you to fill out their own 'Form of Indemnity'. It gives your authorisation for your child to travel and exempts Aer Lingus of all responsibility. You can find the form on their website and at the airport. You will need to hand in the form at check-in.
If you are travelling with an airline or mode of transport not listed and it requires a travel consent form (which is not supplied by the company), you can find a free template letter here.
*Information correct at time of writing, subject to change.
Essential Travel Ltd (Part of Holiday Extras) 2017.