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travel agent chaperoning minors

I have 2 sons (twins) attending a trip to Europe. The tour is put together by a teacher who is also a travel agent-but it is not school related. My issue is this. Another teacher is going and calls herself a "chaperone". But the travel agent is resistant to help the kids out in certain ways, including medically should an emergency arise. Most of the kids along are minors. The comment that has me most worried is one where she said she cannot legally administer meds to my sons, even an emergency medicine for allergies. The likelihood of him needing it is rare or he wouldn't be going. But I want to know if she is correct. And, if she cannot give an emergency med (epinephrine), can the other chaperone who is only a teacher and chaperone but not a travel agent or employee of her agency give the med since she would not be bound by travel laws in the same way?

And to take it further, if she is accompanying minors, isn't she bound to some responsibility for them?

Posted by
6535 posts

If your sons are old enough to travel to Europe on a tour, they should be mature enough to handle allergy medicine and an EpiPen. And since it's not a school trip, they should deal with it themselves.

But if someone's going to be a chaperone, they should be equipped to handle any situation that comes up--medical or otherwise.

Posted by
3 posts

Yes, we would not be sending them if they were not mature enough to handle this. Having said that, they are 17 and nerves can get in the way in an emergency. I feel it's safer for the adults along, who are calling themselves chaperones, to know what to do as well. My problem is the one teacher was happy to learn and help of needed. But the one who is the agent is adamant that she cannot legally touch them. And I tried to talked to her but she was really defensive about anything we discussed, allergies or other wise. So I want to know if she is correct, can she NOT touch them bc she is the travel agent and is bound by some law there? And if that's the case, why can't the other teacher learn if she is NOT an agent?

Posted by
31 posts

I took 2 trips to Europe with teachers when I was 15 & 17 and while I know nothing about the legality of the teacher/TA administering a medication, I do know that your son will not be with a chaperone 24/7. We had free time each day where we could split up and do things on our own and we did not have chaperones with us in our hotel rooms. Does he have a friend going that he will be sharing a room with? If so he will probably be with that friend even if the chaperone is not around. maybe he could teach his friend what to do? What does he do at home if he's out with friends? Hopefully all this will be moot and he'll never need it but it is best to be prepared. Good luck!

Posted by
4841 posts

A travel agent is not the same thing as a tour guide or tour operator. Licensing?

Posted by
8889 posts

My guess is her reluctance is not to do with the laws "there" (which are different in every country and which she is not likely to be familiar with), but rather with the litigation likely in the USA if anything goes wrong.

Posted by
3 posts

I appreciate all the advice. My kids go to a private, Christian school. They will have some free time, but it's very limited. Part of the" anxiety" I hear when talking to this teacher/travel agent is that she doesn't want any deviations on her timetable. I do understand the worry of making flights. But I'm beginning to also think she's too strict on her schedule- maybe even overbooked or books too close together for events and tours. . And everyone knows you don't plan anything in life without allowing some extra time and allowing for some flexibility in case something happens. Any number of things can arise. Someone could lose their passport, or someone without an allergy could choke, or a tour guide could run late, etc. so that part is on her for not allowing for extra time. And that might be part of her worries. She does keep bringing up the timetable.
As far as licensing, I have no idea. She and her Husband own the agency. But I don't know what their licensing is. They have done the trip before and the other teacher, I believe, acted as the main chaperone. And she ( other teacher) is more willing to find a way to make it work. My husband told me to stop talking to the unreasonable woman and only talk to the one trying to help. But I'm writing here to see if anyone knows about the legal aspects as I do worry. It's the first time any of my kids are going this far away. So I have the usual mom worries.

Posted by
16742 posts

Has this program run for a few years and can you get any feedback from other parents whose kids participated?

Are parents of minors asked to sign paperwork stating that the kids are free to leave the USA and giving the chaperones the right to seek emergency medical treatment? Even a single parent traveling with his or her own kids may need that (to enter another country, be admitted to a hospital, etc.) and it's something that our tour program requires.

Since the chaperones are not medical professionals, they are protecting themselves from liability claims by not providing, recommending, or administering medications. I expect they must balance that against a duty to act in a reasonable manner in cases of emergency. The first response in an emergency situation would probably be to call the local emergency medical services.

We ask each of our tour members to sign a release of liability and I guess that other travel companies must do the same. Lawyers write these up with lines such as, "Tour members intentionally assume the many risks inherent in European travel," and "You also understand that we do not provide any medical, health, or related services, so you agree to take care of your own health needs, and the needs of your spouse and family (if any)." I don't know whether she is necessarily acting in loco parentis while accompanying minors, or whether she can also ask you to waive those protections, or whether that idea contradicts my second paragraph above.