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Would you let your 15 year old go on a day trip to London alone?

(207 Posts)
Comefromaway Sun 24-Feb-19 20:31:02

Just before he broke up for half term I had a phone call from ds’s school. His head of year was very concerned because he’d told a member of staff that he was planning to spend his birthday money going to London on a train to watch a West End show!

I of course made all the right noises, promised to speak to him. Explained that we were actually planning a family West End trip and we go approx once or twice a year. The head of year said he’d told her he’d been in London alone before and they were concerned. I assured her that had never been the case. (Turned our he meant last year when dd and dh went to get sushi, I went to a jacket potato place and he went to Burger King in Leicester Square and we met up 15 mins later outside the Lego shop.

So I spoke to ds and it turns out he was serious. He said yes I was going to tell you. I’ve done the maths worked out how much the train and tube will cost I looked up the price of tickets for the Saturday matinee and I have enough left over for lunch at Bella in Leicester Square at 12.30 before the show starts at 2.30. I was quite impressed to be honest. However I pointed out that pretty much all West End theatres have a no unaccompanied children under 16 policy (and he looks young for his age)

But AIBU to think there are worse things a 15 year old could plan? The school was treating going to London like it was Syria or somewhere!

The upshot is that he is going to post phone his trip until after his 16th birthday next year!

Comefromaway Sun 24-Feb-19 20:52:10

To be fair we do live about 170 miles away!

My concern would be what to do if there was a major problem on the trains. If that happened to me I’d book a hotel. He said he’d find a member of station staff or British transport police and ask for help.

wishingforalotterywin Sun 24-Feb-19 20:57:54

Missing the point entirely really but how long does it take on a coach and would it be direct?
They are maybe less prone to delays and cancellations

wishingforalotterywin Sun 24-Feb-19 21:00:44

I can remember going on a v exciting day trip to another city quite far away with my best friend at 15/16 but we were delayed for hours coming back due to some bridge problem or other and no mobile phones so our parents were frantic!

AnnaComnena Sun 24-Feb-19 21:08:08

He said he’d find a member of station staff or British transport police and ask for help.

He sounds as if he's thought it all out. And if there was a problem, the absolute worst that's likely to happen would be him spending several hours at Euston (?) with a lot of frustrated commuters, while the train company sorts things out.

DorothyZbornak Sun 24-Feb-19 21:18:34

He sounds very sensible and mature for his age. I think the school have really over-reacted to the whole situation. He's 15 not 5.

Comefromaway Sun 24-Feb-19 21:19:39

Not sure about a coach. Driving is about 3 hours. The coach would go into Victoria I guess.

Him and Dh did suffer big delays once coming back from an event at Wembley when there was a fatality on the track. They arrived back at 11pm instead of 8pm a friend on a later train with her 5 year old was stuck for hours at Euston and got back early hours of the morning.

Comefromaway Sun 24-Feb-19 21:21:29

It’s quite funny you allthink he sounds very mature as he’s quite young & immature for his age in many ways. But theatre is his obsession (well to be honest it’s a family obsession) and he can be quite determinedin that aspect!

NotANotMan Sun 24-Feb-19 21:24:23

I can't believe the school called you about that! How mad.
As long as you run through contingency plans and he has a backup battery pack for his phone and a bank card he can use in an emergency then why the fuck not?

lurker101 Sun 24-Feb-19 21:25:07

I don’t think it’s particularly odd for him to want to do, but I can see why the school panicked. Quite a few children “disappear” even temporarily from home doing these sorts of things that they probably felt a duty to let you know in case it was a runaway attempt etc. when afterwards people would point at the teacher and query why nothing was raised.

llangennith Sun 24-Feb-19 21:25:53

If you live in or around London it's no big deal but I suppose to anyone in the rest of the country it sounds risky. Between the tube and buses transport around London is great. Two of my DGS have been going to meet up with friends all over London since they were 13. The school involvement sounds bizarre.

Sammysquiz Sun 24-Feb-19 21:28:21

Good for him! He sounds like he’s planned well and will be sensible. Let him go, he will rightly feel very proud of himself.

eightytwenty Sun 24-Feb-19 21:29:46

I sent my DC age 14/12 by train to another city 1 hour away from ours this half term in order to see an exhibition at a museum. They managed just fine despite the museum initially refusing them entry telling them the exhibition was 16 plus. They explained that they’d come from our city and had come up for the day and negotiated their way in. Was good for them.

2rachtin Sun 24-Feb-19 21:31:08

I went to the theatre with my friend in London by ourselves (very similar trip). We went to the theatre, parks, hamleys, enjoyed the tube and had a fab time. Didn't have mobile phones then so think I called my parents from paddington using my charge card to say I was on the way home. I think it is very odd the school called you!

Ontheboardwalk Sun 24-Feb-19 21:31:43

I’d much rather get the Virgin train from Manchester to London than some of the local trains and trams

Give him some spare cash to stash and a power pack for when his phone battery runs and and he'll be fine.

He'll prob get a great seat at the theatre because he’s a single seat.

gambaspilpil Sun 24-Feb-19 21:33:02

My DC have grown up in London however only started going solo when they were around 12. My DD is 15 and regularly heads into the city. Its actually quite easy to get around. You can walk to most places and as most kids have phones can use there maps. Think the school were being OTT

anniehm Sun 24-Feb-19 21:34:44

I went to London alone from 13 or so, teenagers do live in London ! Unless you live so far that necessitates an overnight stay I don't see the problem, dd certainly went at 16 to auditions and we live in another city.

BHStowel Sun 24-Feb-19 21:35:07

I think it’s a lovely thing for him to do.

I was going to London by myself at that age! Pre-mobile phones too.

If you’re in the NW would he come into Euston by train? I’ve travelled by train between central London and NW for the last 20 years. The only big problems have been one I got out of the train in Carlisle!

I would NOT do a coach if he’s traveling that far. They are soulless and awful and just, NO! I know the train is massively expensive but if he gets a rail card that will reduce costs. For the first time he does it I’d suggest he gets a rail ticket that is totally transferable, even if it’s more expensive. That gives him more leeway if things don’t go to plan.

Contrary to popular opinion most Londoners are friendly enough!

90percentvodka10percenthuman Sun 24-Feb-19 21:35:57

Blimey, I can’t believe the school called to voice concerns. My dd was jumping on planes like they were buses by herself when she was 15. Always with my knowledge and permission and without issue.

He sounds very sensible. The school sound like they are overstepping imo

anniehm Sun 24-Feb-19 21:39:34

Ps my kids use the coach mostly, and have my credit card linked to Uber in case they need to get one to meet their coach or get home late at night - it's also worth getting them an Oyster card as most teenagers debit cards aren't contactless.

Tawdrylocalbrouhaha Sun 24-Feb-19 21:41:20

Sounds fine to me (although I wouldn't have enjoyed it alone at that age. I would now!)

Do you know someone in London whose number he can have in his phone, and who can be aware that he's in town that day?

BHStowel Sun 24-Feb-19 21:43:07

Oh yes, look into an Oyster Zip card. That would show his age so he could use it to prove he is 16. You do it online and then the school signs something?

irregularegular Sun 24-Feb-19 21:43:32

I'd let my 15 year old do it. With a friend. And a phone. Having talked through the itinerary first, and agreed the time of train back - ie. not just hanging around late in the evening.

My 16 year old recently went to a concert at the O2 with a small group of friends from here. She also spent a whole weekend (2 nights) in Bath with a friend, travelling by train and staying a youth hostel.

I find it very odd that the school would be so concerned.

StrawberrySquash Sun 24-Feb-19 21:44:59

At that age my friends' would drive us to London and leave us there for the day while he did work things. And I'd managed to take a plane to Bordeaux changing in Paris so can't see the travel issue, assuming he's a competent type.

CripsSandwiches Sun 24-Feb-19 21:45:57

Unless he's getting a very late train back I wouldn't worry - the worst that will happen would be that he's stuck on an awful rail replacement service or he has to cram onto a packed later train with no seats.

Dillydallyding Sun 24-Feb-19 21:47:39

As someone who grew up in a boring time outside London, I frequently took the train into London by myself from the age of 13/14, to go to museums/art galleries at what not.

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