Keeping Families Together

Posted on May 03, 2017 by Jennifer Powell

What do you do when you have lost contact with your teenager who is traveling to the US on his own for the first time? That was the dilemma faced by my husband and me very recently. Our family was visiting the US but our 17 year old son had insisted on traveling on his own. He wanted to experience what it would be like to not have mom or dad accompany him. We were concerned because of all the upheaval at the US Airports but since he was a seasoned traveler we allowed him his wish.

He was traveling via Miami to another city. We took a different flight and arrived before him and waited at a nearby restaurant. We were able to speak to him by phone after he cleared immigration in Jamaica and also spoke to him several times (to his annoyance) when the flight landed at MIA.” Mom, I am a big boy now. I know what to do. I'll call you when I am there.” That was how he responded to my third phone call after his AA flight landed. Two hours later we hadn't heard from him. By now he should have cleared immigration we reasoned. Did something go wrong? Reluctantly and with some trepidation we called him. The phone was answered and immediately disconnected. Several subsequent call attempts failed.

Clearly our level of anxiety raised a few notches. Why wasn't he calling us? Was his phone confiscated by immigration officials? Was he detained? Did he get the wrong flight? Suddenly the thought came to me that he had ran out of credit. The unnecessary calls we made to him while on the ramp in Miami had drained his credit. Knowing him he also must have been data roaming as well. The loss of communication was very unnerving for us and we assumed that he also felt the same. There had to be a way of topping him up. But how? Then we remembered the website that sent out those weekly reminders – No fees charged at Reward points etc. etc.

The restaurant didn't have Wi-Fi (can you believe this in 2017). We used a US phone we as a hotspot, got on a browser, went to and sent the credit to our son's phone. It was that easy. Five minutes later were able to get in contact with him. His first words were “You are running out my credit with all these calls.”

As parents it's sometimes hard to let go of children. But when they are on their own, wherever they may be in the world, at least we want to know that they are safe. Thanks to technology and for keeping families connected.