Budget Travel for 6 college grads

Old Mar 8th, 2008, 01:33 PM
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Budget Travel for 6 college grads

All you fodors posters have REALLY helped me in the past when planning travel and here I am again. This time I am asking for my child, he's buried in school work and job hunting as he is soon to graduate college and I do want him to concentrate on the job hunting part!

He and 5 buddies want to go to Europe for 3 to 6 weeks. I know, they are not well organized at this point and should have started sooner, but it is what it is. I offered to post and help as I think getting to travel is very important - talk about an education!

The 6 guys want to do what is the equivalent of my generation's backpacking through Europe. I don't where to start with questions - anyone have experience with this type of travel lately?
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 01:41 PM
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Before anyone can help them too very much -- they do need to focus just a bit. Which country(s) are they most interested in visiting? And deciding whether it will be 3 weeks or 6 weeks or something in between will make a HUGE difference what is advisable/possible.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 01:42 PM
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Hi Sammie - I think they need to start by determining how much money they have and where they *want* to go. What have they always dreamed of seeing/doing?

Also, you might want to check out the Thorntree forums, they are a little more geared to that type of travel.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 01:52 PM
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thanks Janisj and Lennyba

Absolutely a huge difference between 3 weeks and 6 but I think these kids really don't have a clue. They said about 5-6 weeks and I said they may have to be happy with 3 because of budget. Of course, I don't have the details on even that, but I made the comment that they need to decide what they can spend ... asked, do you guys have 3 or 4 grand to drop for such a long vacation? Well, duh, they don't. But, I figured they need to think because if you just wander to a hotel in the tourist area you might not get a room and if you do, it won't be cheap. Then food, and trains and etc.

As for where, I think they will be happy with most anyplace but would like to hit the typical top spots for first timers: Paris, Italy, maybe Spain ('cause my kid's not been there) and another country or two. I see this as a cursory view, not in depth. They will have fun no matter what they do because they will be traveling with buddies and off on an adventure.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 05:55 PM
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I would look at Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum - which will give an idea of rock bottom prices for a trip.

Then put together costs for an average day (bed in hostel, meals, local transit and entrance to a sight. Then, multiply this out and give then an approx number (including air from wherever you're coming from) for 3 weeks. After they pick themselves up (entrance to the Tower of London is about $30US) you can give them some suggestions.

At a very rough guess - going bottom budget (but not sleeping in the park) I think they need to allow a minimum $3500 for a 3 week trip, including transatlantic air fare and train from city to city. (This will allow very basic food. lots of walking, dorm bed in a hostel and one beer or wine in a college hangout in the evening.) If they want any nightlife it's all on top of this.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 06:23 PM
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Hot spots for the young and hip are Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Berlin.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 08:48 PM
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I'm planning on backpacking myself this summer, and so far, budgeting 50E a day for hostel, food, transportation, and sights seem to be working out. However, please note that with that budget in mind, I plan on self catering most of my meals from grocery stores and getting discounted admission fees through my ISIC card. This doensn't include my emergency fund. Also, I will NOT be hitting some of the more expensive areas while backpacking, such as London, Paris, and Italy. If your son plans on spending much of his three weeks in those areas, he's most likely going to have to up his budget.
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 01:32 AM
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College grads, meaning a total of 16 yrs in school( K-college) and they didn't even consider their budget?? I guess mom and dad have paid for everything for these " kids" for them to not have even thought about money.

Mom, STOP trying to " help" these "kids",, if they want to go to Europe they can be grown ups and plan it all themselves.. don't tell me they study day in and day out. They can spend 1/2 hr two or three times a week doing their own trip planning.
They need to decide where THEY want to go.

I did at their age. It helps them to grow up and become the young adults that they are at 22.

PS Perhaps they could do their job hunting when they return since I don't know how many employers are happy with " yes I want to work here, but I don't want to start yet ".
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 04:01 AM
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Sammie
As someone who backpacked through Europe when I was 17, I agree you need to leave it up to your son and friends to get started. They need to figure out what their budget is and do some preliminary work. You can then help by doing some indepth research.

Aleck - why aren't you going to Italy? Sure some cities can be expensive but I found the trains and cost of living cheap.


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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 08:17 AM
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In addition to the Thorn Tree site, your son and his friends might want to consult letsgo.com for general ideas. It has some suggested itineraries that would help to get them thinking. (Let's Go advocates moving around far too quickly for most people on this forum, and I would certainly encourage them to cut back and stay in fewer places longer. However, my first backpacking trip to Europe was somewhat similar, and you probably could not have persuaded me to limit myself to one or two destinations.)
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 08:27 AM
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Ditto to Let's Go

Buy them Let's Go Europe - the best source i've seen for such travels - the accommodations listings are priceless - thousands of hostels, youth hotels and budget hotels.
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 08:38 AM
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Have they considered one of the package tours geared to soon to be college grads? My sister in law took one of them about 10 years ago and had a blast. It gave her a taste of the countries, a surprisingly lot of freedom to move around within a city alone or with people she met on the tour, and gave her the passion to become a Europe "junkie" -- she's been going back ever since!

It's also cheaper and they don't have to plan.

If that is NOT an option, I sort of agree with what the others say, but if you're like me, you actually enjoy helping plan these things. If that's the case, you should appoint yourself travel "director", kind of like the brains of the computer, where they can feed you the info -- all 5 of them -- and you can come up with proposals based on the info they provide to you. Like a clearinghouse! Maybe think up questions, and email each of them the list of questions and get their responses. Sample questions: What's the most you can spend? What's the max time you can spend abroad? Is airfare included in the amount you can spend? Do you get sea sick/car sick/train sick? Do you prefer travel by train/bus? What languages do you speak? What is the one city you do not want to miss seeing? Do you prefer relaxing vacations or fast moving trips? Do you prefer to explore and work out or sightsee?

Stuff like that.
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 08:41 AM
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Oh yeah, and agree on Let's Go. I used that 35 years ago for my first backpacking trip and have been using it ever since for the younger point of view on places, practical stuff, and the like.
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 08:46 AM
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Send them to www.eurotrip.com

Backpacker message board.
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 09:35 AM
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<i>Sarvowinner</i>, the only reason why I'm not touching Italy during the backpacking part of my trip is because I will be going there on an escorted tour with my parents two weeks before I go &quot;solo.&quot; I know that tours often don't spend enough time in each city (and it looks like this one won't be any different), but I'm hoping the extra research I've done will somewhat offset that. Can't really complain much...I'll be doing that part of my trip for free .

Which brings me to my next reply. <i>Surfergirl</i>, from what I have been researching, going on a Contiki or Top Deck tour (tours aimed for 18-35 year olds) is NOT cheaper than going solo and planning things yourself. The prices they print out often don't include a lot of the admission fees to the sights to go to, for one. That, and tours are so rushed! By their second week, they probably wouldn't remember what each city they visited looked like.

I agree with getting a Let's Go guidebook. I've been using it for my planning, and it's definitely been invaluable.

I also pretty much agree with everyone else to let them plan their trip themselves. I've never met a college student who (regardless of the amount of school work AND part time job) didn't have time to go to a pub or hang out every week. Trust me...they have time to sit down for half an hour every now and then to plan their trip out .
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 09:41 AM
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Thank you everyone for your good suggestions and ideas. I will pass them along to the kids and see what they can do. That's what I like about Fodor's - such good information and kind responses.

Bozama - thanks for the parenting lesson but I guess our philosophies differ. I too was a college student so I know they are not studying 24/7 but I also know it's sometimes hard to get a project started and I think once they do get started (even with a little help) then their follow through and the experience will be a huge education. I am not running ahead or behind them picking up the pieces - they will screw it up along the way but that in itself (so long as it's legal) will be half the fun and good memories. I just personally think travel is not only fun, but such an education from so many perspectives that I do want my children to experience it. This will not be their only trip aboard and my guess is once they start the process the rest will fall in line. And by the way, the trend now in hiring many of the college grads is often to have them start in late summer to fall. Over the last 3 years I have watched many, many recruiters for good jobs with good companies and they all start at varying times even beginning mid summer to fall.

Let me wrap this up again with many thanks to those of you who have given such good information, I really do appreciate it.
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 10:57 AM
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&quot; I am not running ahead&quot;

yes you are,, duh , point of this thread.
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 11:17 AM
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I think one piece of excellent advice you should not gloss over was the suggested destination for that age people. It's not about Paris and Italian classic cities.

The Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin suggetions are much more current imo.

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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 01:16 PM
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Thanks Suze - Thanks RoadCrazy. I'm passing along this thread to them. I was very glad to see the comment on the more current locations for young people as I am not one of them. I've made no suggestions to them as to places to see/go which is why I do think it's so helpful to get the advise from this board as to current resources for this type of traveler - specific guidebooks, links, other people's budget ideas, etc.

And please, I don't mean to sound defensive - perhaps I misspoke at the beginning and perhaps my own curiosity has crept in, but I am not going to plan their trip. I meant only to pull from what I have found to be a fabulous resource (this board) a few comments for a starting point and provide that. I know many may not agree so please don't scold me, each to our own style.

Thanks again all - you're great!
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 01:22 PM
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I have come to Fodor's to research for friends, I think that's prefectly OK. Probably people just want to make sure the kids start taking responsibility for some of the planning and decisions.

I've come here for advice on things beyond my normal budget or outside my personal scope of experience, like finding a really NICE hotel in Paris for friends' honeymoon.

p.s. Prague is another to add to the alternative cities suggestions list.
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