We recently talked about leaving kids at home while you travel, but what about teenagers? (While the Lopez crew has no teenagers yet, I’ve been the teen left at home when a parent travels so I have some advice). The thought of leaving your teen home alone may have your stomach in knots, but it may be your only feasible option, so what do you do? While most teens can be self-sufficient, they also are at an age where decision-making skills can be iffy and there needs to be some planning involved when it comes to leaving teens home when you travel. Having a plan in place will assist in alleviating your worst parenting fears, while still allowing your teenager some freedom of having the house to themselves.

Tips to Leaving Teens Home When You Travel

Start off your mission of leaving teens home when you travel by researching the laws in your state; many states have laws surrounding which age groups are allowed to be home alone on a long term basis. Since every state is different in its mandates of how old they feel a teen should be before allowing them to stay home alone, you will want to be certain to research this heavily so you don’t get a phone call from a police officer while on vacation finding out you are breaking a state law. Once you have determined it’s law abiding to leave your teenager home alone while you travel, move on to the next step in planning.

Write out a list of rules that are clear, concise and discussed with your teen before leaving for vacation. There may be certain friends or no friends at all allowed within the home while you are gone. These instructions must be clearly demonstrated to the teen so that no confusion happens while you are away with unacceptable guests. Make sure to think about any situation that could come up; from fires to pet issues to random strangers knocking on the door as a means to be solid about what your expectations are for your teen while they watch your home.

Enlist a family member or a friend as the teens “go to” contact in case of an emergency or a question they may have while you are away on vacation. Even though your teen will be home alone and ultimately in charge of the household while you are away, they still need a responsible adult to report into. Giving too much freedom while you are on vacation can be disastrous, so discuss which adult they feel comfortable reporting to and leave clear instructions on when they will report in to that adult. Make sure the adult that has been chosen does random drop-ins as well to ensure your teen is following the rules you set forth prior to leaving.

Leave an emergency fund of around $100 in cash for your teen and stock up on all food items before you head out on vacation; this allows your teen to have little reason to leave the home and ensures that emergencies will be covered should one occur. The key to leaving your teen home alone while you travel is to communicate your expectations and guidelines in a clear manner to alleviate any grey area where your teen may try to wiggle in getting away with a little extra while you are gone. If you follow these tips you are sure to have a stress free vacation knowing that your teen has your household under control.