Europe Backpacking Tips

Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 08:03 AM
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Europe Backpacking Tips

My daughter & three other girls (all early 20's) leave Sunday for their backpacking adventure in Europe. They fly into Amsterdam for a few days and then will head to France, Italy, Spain, Turkey & Greece. My daughter has been to Europe twice before but never on her own. For the others, this is a first. Except for an apartment they've rented in Spain, the rest of their nights will be spent in hostels.
What are some useful tips/suggestions (particularily with regards to their safety) that you experienced travellers can pass would be great!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 08:16 AM
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www.lonelyplanet.com and go to The Thorn Tree forum

There are a lot more backpackers and 20-somethings on that forum. Certainly there are plenty of experienced travelers here on Fodor's but backpackers/hostels staying not so much.

www.ricksteves.com on their Graffiti Wall forum is another one.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 08:17 AM
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Does everyone have a money belt? Passport? More than one source for getting cash?
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Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 08:18 AM
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money belt & passports - yes
debit card & credit card - yes
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Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 08:23 AM
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Bring a decent padlock, because some of the hostels have lockers to store stuff, but you need a lock. Bring coins for some of the facilities (i.e. you may have to pay a meter for a shower, etc.); TP or kleenex for those little emergencies when there's none in the loo. Generally, just be cautious leaving anything of value just lying around. IPODs, phones, things that can be easily picked up.
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 04:40 PM
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i think the greatest danger to young people, especially, is alcohol

if they can handle the drinks and know their limitations
if they look out for each other and dont go off with locals...

girls out drinking ...you know the scene
holiday romance/liasonss can turn ugly
or tragic

this is something kids have to internalise- you can teach em all you like but they have to want it themselves
being caught up in the moment in a strange exotic place- everything feels safe when youve got a few of the local brews under your belt and feeling gorgeous lol

make sure their phones are working-charged and secure- have an emergency system in place - take numbers and emails of people they will be contacting

my son and friend arrived in portugal with both phones not functioning
it was a nightmare when his friend rang my house saying he couldnt find them at the airport in lisbon
i spent three hours in the wee hours of the morning trying to track them down
rang amsterdam police even to see if thered been accident before their flight to lisbon

the portuguese were hopeless
- very few spoke english and they werent motivated to help

they were found - waiting in a lounge - a security guard had walked past them supposedly looking for them lol
ill never forget that night though - the relief was so sweet

good luck to the young ones
they will have a wonderful time!
youre the one left with the worries lol
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 06:23 PM
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You've probably already thought of this but either leave copies of important documents (passport) and numbers (credit card, phones) either with family at home or email scanned copies to themselves so they can be retrieved if necessary. If emailing credit card numbers make sure they are disguised in some way (and not just entered backwards).

Text messaging is great for keeping in touch when there are time differences.

As for being safe, it is as safe in Europe as it is anywhere (and more so) - just take the normal precautions and watch over any valuables (and don't take more of these than absolutely necessary).
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 01:19 PM
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Don't get fixated on staying in hostels. In some locations (assuming they don't just go to major cities), B&B's and small hotels may be as cheap and better values.
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 01:56 PM
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I recommend couchsurfing.org to people in that age group...maybe not necessarily for spending nights on couches, but at least for meeting locals for a meal or local activities. Generally, couchsurfing is safe - especially if you read profiles and only go with people who have been vouched for by the couchsurfing community. The community rule is that each person needs to create their own profile and put effort into creating it. There is a bulletin board area on the website that is useful, too. A lot of people on the website tend to be last minute planners, so last minute requests for dinner companions or a couch are not unheard of. It's a great way to, at the very least, meet locals and experience the place with other people in your age range with similar interests. It might make you a little concerned as a parent, but it's really a great community with a lot of people looking out for your daughter and her friends if they ask for help.
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