My son recently returned from a semester abroad. Although he has traveled abroad numerous times, this trip was the longest. And this time he would not be in the company of teachers, classmates, or his family. It was imperative that we be more thorough with preparation and safety than in the past, addressing the new challenges of independent travel. As a parent of kids who travel abroad fairly often, I share these tips with you.

Make Copies

As practice I keep multiple copies of our passports at all times. Be sure your child has a copy of the first pages of her passport for her travel. Also make copies of the visa page, if a visa is required for travel.

Make copies of the front and back of the credit card she will be using; write the phone number(s) to call in case the card is lost or stolen on the copies. Make copies of health insurance information and coverage, and give these to your child too. Encourage your child to keep these copies together, but away from the original items. The copies can then be moved to a safe and accessible place where your child is staying.

Passports and other travel documents are far easier to replace if your child has the copies and information close at hand. Credit cards can be suspended and replaced if you have the information to do so.

Create a folder or binder in which you can keep copies of all of your child's travel documents, health insurance and credit card. I also keep my kid's itinerary and all travel program information and important contacts in the same folder.

Have the Safety Talk

Talk to her about safety, MULTIPLE times, long before your child travels. Americans are targets worldwide. Talk drugs, alcohol, and sex based on your family's values. And trafficking.

Consider birth control pills if she isn't taking them. Non-consensual sex occurs. Protect your child in advance because your child may be unable to protect herself in the event something happens. Discuss the importance of being with someone you can trust at all times, or letting people know where you are and how you are getting there.

Explore where your child is traveling ahead of time, what "safety net" might be available. This time my son was going to be studying and living in in France. This was his second to trip to this city; however, I checked to see if we knew of anyone there, or if we had friends who had reliable friends. Turned out we had several friends in the same city, one who was a physician, and other friends and acquaintances living in other cities he would be visiting in congruent countries.

Stay in Touch

Communication does not need to be expensive. You can text with your son or daughter via free smartphone apps like WhatsApp, which allows you to exchange messages without paying the expensive international SMS fees. Use Skype for video calls, which is also free. Set up these networking platforms and test for ease of communication ahead of time.