The most common reason children travel alone is to visit relatives. As families spread out it is more likely that grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins may live across the country or overseas. Children whose parents are divorced also travel alone. In years past, divorced couples with children would tend to stay in the same geographic location to be able to spend time with those children. Today, job opportunities or remarriage may mean that a child’s mother and father may live on opposite coasts.
Clearly, some children are more comfortable traveling than others. A child who flies several times a year will likely be more comfortable on a plane than one who has never flown alone. That is not a given, however. Just as some frequent passengers never get over their fear of flying, neither do some children. A 6-year-old who has never flown before may find the experience one big enjoyable adventure. An 11-yearold who dislikes plane travel, on the other hand, might actually be a difficult and demanding passenger.
Since the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, airline, train, and bus security have all increased. While this may not affect children as directly as it affects adults, the travel process is longer and involves a considerable amount more time standing in line and waiting. Not only that, children who are old enough to understand what happened in the plane attacks may be frightened of flying even if they were never afraid in the past.
Relatively few unaccompanied children travel by train or bus, in part, because train and bus trips may be too long for children. Also, railroad and bus companies have stricter regulations about who is old enough to travel solo.