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Graduation Trip, Italy & ???? I Do Not Want To Screw This Up!

Graduation Trip, Italy & ???? I Do Not Want To Screw This Up!

Sep 3rd, 2007, 08:32 PM
  #1  
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Graduation Trip, Italy & ???? I Do Not Want To Screw This Up!

Hi-
Here's the deal. I accompanied my oldest daughter on her school trip for senior graduation in June 3 years ago. Now it's my youngest daughters turn (only two kids thank god) and the school isn't going this year so I've agreed to take her myself. I looked into group plans but she's worried that we will end up with a bunch of elderly people and she will be the only teen, and I'M TOO OLD for the younger ones!!! (45) Talk about adding insult to injury!

I went to London, France and Italy with daughter #1, but #2 is much more security conscience and doesn't want to go to England at all. She would be happy with strictly Italy for 2 weeks. Although I'm excited that we aren't going be on the rigid schedule #1 daughter took, (being on a bus packed, showered, make-up done and ready to hit the road at 6:00 a.m., is not a vacation in my opinion but a trip. (I lost 10 lbs. in 2 weeks!) I'm concerned about two things:

1. She's going to become bored spending two straight weeks in Italy alone with her mom. (at least on the school trip there were other kids)and, #2. I do want her to experience as many sights and different cultures as possible without burning us out.

She would like to do Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome. Whatever. Very Flexible. She talked about Monte Carlo, but I was there years ago and can't remember what there is for an 18 year old to do.

I'm thinking maybe Fly into Paris, see some basics (Louvre, Eiffel, perfume, sidewalk cafes, thrift shops, river cruise, maybe Versaille(sp?) and then overnight train (sleeping car hopefully, bunk's OK in a pinch) to Venice and so on. She's interested in outlets also (Prada,etc. and a cooking class in Italy too.)

My thoughts are at least with another country there is always something else to look forward to if you are unhappy in one place.

I've plotted with military precision for the FF miles and have 2 business class tickets reserved for 7/8/08 out of Ohare into Milan, and returning 7/23/08 from Rome home. I know July's hotter than H--L, but that's how it goes. I can change the reservations to fly into Paris with no problem but I only have a week to do it.

Does anyone have any suggestions for me? I speak no Italian, although I'm going to buy Rosetta Stone next. She's a 3'rd yr. Spanish student. I've traveled quite a bit and although I'm nervous about this, it's more due to the communication problems than anything else.

I want her to have a great trip, and it to create memories for us that I have with my oldest. So what do I do with an 18 year old for all that time? ANY IDEAS???? Any other mom's going around then? ha ha.

For the record, she has 2 jobs and we're making her contribute $2000 which is what her sister had to pay. (I'll use it towards hotels, mom will cover all spending $, FF for tickets.)

Sorry I wrote a book. All advice appreciated.
morgiesmom is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 08:45 PM
  #2  
 
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If she prefers Italy, why not do that? Even Milan, Venice, Florence would be nice. Why does she want to go to Monte Carlo (I'm not questions it, rather truly wondering what it is that interests her).

Sure you could fly into Paris, then take an overnight train to Venice... this works fine if you spring for a private sleeper cabin for two.

But if Italy is HER interest, why not do what she wants?
suze is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 08:48 PM
  #3  
 
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Get her involved in the planning, rather than you trying to figure out what "to do with an 18 year old". So it feels like her trip and you've got buy-in.

That said, if she's bored in Italy with her Mom, she'd just as easily be bored in Paris, is my guess.

As far as communication, don't be worried. I've been to Europe a number of times, half the times going solo, never on a tour, not speaking any language other than English, and I got around just fine.


suze is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 09:02 PM
  #4  
 
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I have taken my 18-yr old daughter to Italy. Bored? hmm... I am not sure where you are from, but my daughter seemed to have spotted one shoe, clothes, accessory stores after another carrying items not available in the U.S. She never resisted going into any gelato shops who suggested.

A cooking class in Italy? My wife did this. What we found was that you have to make a reservation months in advance, that English speaking classes are generally quite pricy, and that the classes can get cancelled at the last minutes - at which time you need a backup plan - another class or something else to fill the itinierary if your arrangements commits you to that city.

Most people in the Italian cities you mentioned speak good enough English -- except for usual taxi drivers. The communication with the locals would be a minor issue.

The more you move around, the more you need to figure out how things mesh with each other. For this reason, including Paris would complicate your planning.
greg is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 09:32 PM
  #5  
 
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If she wants Italy, I would go for it. To me it shows a bit of maturity that she doesn't want to check off one monument after another....

You might take a community college class in Italian and maybe get her some Italian language software (she probably doesn't have time for another class!). You don't strictly "need" it, but it will help. Our experience was that the Italians were genuinely interested in talking to us.

If you could choke down a few of your days in a hostel, she would get to know plenty of young folks and perhaps have someone to join you for one of your day's adventures. I got to know a lot of great Australians that way!



5alive is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 05:04 AM
  #6  
ira
 
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Hi M,

You are a good mother.

I doubt that she will be bored with 2 weeks in Italy, even with her Mom.

Alternatively, fly into Paris - 4 nights, take www.myair.com from Paris ORY to Venice VCE - 2 nights, train to Florence - 3 nights, train to Rome - 4 nights, fly home.

Is there a particular need to see Milan?

ira is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 06:57 AM
  #7  
mms
 
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I cannot imagine either of you would be bored with 2 weeks in Italy. We are also planning a graduation trip for DD (but all 4 of us are going) to Italy, and she asked for 3 months, lol! She will have to settle for 2-3 weeks Anyway, the suggestion of taking a language class is good. She will most likely not have time for a class, but you can share with her and practice together. I took a French for Travelers class for our France trip this summer, and while DD was not able to take the course with me, she did learn a few phrases which helped. You can easily get by without taking a class, but it does help. We have been to several countries without knowing anything but a few words, but for our trip this summer the class really made a difference for me.
mms is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 07:02 AM
  #8  
 
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If there is an opportunity near you to take a class at community college, I highly recommend that, Italian aimed at tourists and travelers. Nothing against Rosetta Stone, but I think learning with other people, so you are forced to speak, works much better (in my experience learning Spanish).

Remember there are loads of 18 year old who are out backpacking around Europe on their own. Don't believe me, just read over on www.lonelyplanet.com their forum similar to this one called The Thorn Tree. Actually, your daughter might enjoy doing some research of her own over there.
suze is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 07:20 AM
  #9  
 
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Ira,

You are a good man...so nice of you to start your post off with that kind comment to morgiesmom.

They will both be okay on this trip...she just needs some guidance (although I have none to offer).
i_am_kane is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 07:24 AM
  #10  
 
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I spent a month in Italy with my parents when I was 20. It was fabulous and I was not bored for a second, except when I had to have my 9 year old brother tag along
kfusto is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 08:06 AM
  #11  
 
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I don't think you will be bored with only two weeks in Italy. Definately get her involved in the planning process. Add some time on the coast: Sorrento, Amalfi Coast or the Cinque Terre.

The trip is her gift so let her lead the way. You are paying for it so you have final approval.

Take a cooking class, an art class, go horseback riding, try something new.

Relish the time the two of you will have together. She will off to college, wrapped up in her own activities and out of the house for good in a blink of the eye.
BigBlueMarble is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 08:38 AM
  #12  
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Thanks to everyone for replying. You've given me much to consider. She wants to visit Milan because of fashion & Monte Carlo to check out the yachts, the palace and to gawk at the beautiful jewelry in the windows at Cartier, etc. She actually wanted to go to Milan during fashion week but that wasn't possible.

I'm also going to look into the Italian class versus a CD. (why didn't I think of that?) She's carrying a full schedule this year, no time for her.

She's hesitant of travel to other countries for fear of "being blown up" as she puts it. I'm not positive that she's ALL that into Italy, just that for some reason she's decided Italy is safest. She's willing to go to France, but no way England.

The cooking class is her idea. (although I'm game.) I was assuming if I booked it now we would be OK. Something else to check into now.

I guess one thing I'm worried about is that my DD #1's trip was arranged thru EFT Tours and it was as I said, "a trip" not a vacation. The education was a very important part of the trip. I'm very scared this one is going to end up all shopping, coutre, hot Italian boys and Gucci vs Prada! Her radar for ALL of that is excellent!

Although the train from France to England overnight in a 6 person bunk was wild with DD #1, (I sprayed deodorant on all the girls shirts and that was the laundry service for the day, we shared one dixie cup to spit in after brushing our teeth, (as mom I was able to go first), and I passed out the wet wipes for our baths.) I'll never forget it. I guess I want her to "rough it a little". You don't appreciate 4 star hotels and room service till you've slept on a rockin' train all night! I'm rambling. sorry.

DD #1 says take her to Paris, she doesn't understand what she's missing and when will she get the chance to go back? Paris has her criteria: Fashion houses, thrift shops, 2'nd hand shops etc. and yet the Eiffel Tower, and Versaille, etc. to help with the education. I thought the Eiffel Tower lit up at night was beautiful as did D#1. Seeing it on TV is never going to come close and she may never have that chance.

But again, this is her trip and not mine. (thanks for reminding me of that!)

On the other hand, sometimes you don't realize what you almost missed until you arrive. We as a family voted our way across Alaska last year. The DD's voted for white water rafting, I voted against, went and loved it.

I'm going to spend the day thinking about all you've said. I'll check back tonight and again thank you for your help.

Also, has anyone traveled with Brussels Air yet?
morgiesmom is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 11:45 AM
  #13  
 
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You have already booked your ff flights, but even so, could a friend of hers go, too? At her own expense? (She could fly on the same plane as you, even.) We went to Italy twice with our 20 yr old daughter, and both times had a girlfriend tag along. That was great when they wanted to stay out late and we did not. Just be sure the friend is compatible and flexible for the trip. (one girl who went with us constantly criticized everything American while at home, then constantly criticized everything italian when we were there -- including the food and the guys!! Sheesh!)

Charnee
charnees is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 11:59 AM
  #14  
 
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If you would like to sample another country in addition to Italy, what about Switzerland? It is right next door, a short hop from Milan, and I can't imagine her having any safety issues with Switzerland. The Swiss Open (tennis) will be going on in Gstaad during your visit, and even if she isn't interested in tennis it's fun to go and see the Beautiful People.

Or visit Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) with its beautiful castle (Chillon) and the Montreux jazz festival. There are plenty of yachts to see there too, and you can ride a boat across the lake to Evian. . . the possibilities are endless.
enzian is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 12:07 PM
  #15  
 
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hi, morgiesmom,

I think I'd go for the paris/italy option personally, but were I you, I'd leave the final decision to her - then she can't blame you!

not sure why security problems put her off the UK so much. I'm not aware of any station in England that rivals termini in Rome for pick-pockets, beggars, and general riff-raff. and outside London, the UK is as safe as switzerland unless you go looking for trouble.

but if she wants Italy, go for Italy.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 12:20 PM
  #16  
ira
 
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Hi M,

> She wants to visit Milan because of fashion & Monte Carlo to check out the yachts, the palace and to gawk at the beautiful jewelry in the windows at Cartier, etc.<

Oh piffle.

She can stay at home and read magazines.

If you go to Paris, she can shop on the Rue de La paix and the Rue Rivoli.

I do think that Monte Carlo should be left for another time.

ira is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 12:21 PM
  #17  
ira
 
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PS,

>DD #1 says take her to Paris, she doesn't understand what she's missing <

DD1 is an astute and intelligent young woman.

Must be her upbringing.

ira is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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I think you could be plenty busy in Italy for two weeks. I love Paris, too. Have you considered Barcelona? Cool vibe that our while family loved, not terribly expensive, great food, fantastic shopping.
missypie is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 12:55 PM
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I have 2 teenaged daughters - one loved Rome and Venice and the other didn't like anything about Italy at all...My #1 is a self-professed "nerd" and loves museums and palaces. #2 found Florence "boring" I love being with them both and find I have different experiences with them alone than when we're all together. If your #1 is anything like mine, she probably hogs all the mom-time anyway. Maybe #2 just wants a little time with you before she heads off to college...let her chose the country and do some of the planning so she can take ownership of some of the things that don't work out to be her favorites...

Also, think about your daughters' temperaments. Perhaps #2 just wants her own kind of trip not #1s trip...What type of pace works for her? There is so much to see/do in Italy and if for now she isn't into making it "educational" that's OK. Just planning the trip and being exposed to another country/culture can plant the seeds for later travels.

When I was 23 I went alone to Paris for 10 days. On arrival, I met a Parisien at the airport and hung out with her friends all week. I never saw one piece of artwork... Now I'm almost 50 and can't get enough art everywhere I go...My point - plenty of time for that when she is really interested. Why ruin the trip for her (and probably you too) by doing things because you think you "have to". You can make it "Italy Lite" instead. Maybe you will have a better time this trip too? Just don't ever, ever tell #1 that... heh, heh...

Most of the sites in Rome and Venice can be seen and enjoyed without a lot of "education." My daughter is begging to do a cooking class in Italy...(Actually I think she'd like to just move there permanently.) I would try to book it - if it gets canceled you can always do something else. In Venice we skipped all the glass and now I realize my daughter probably would have liked Murano...highlight of the Venice trip was the water-taxi to the airport though - and my frugal daughter didn't want to spend the money at the time. We laugh about it now!!

Also, IMHO, if your daughter is interested, I would take advantage of this mother-daughter bonding and not include a friend... She can go to Europe with a friend some other time when you won't be along to get in the way of their plans...

I would take Ira's suggested trip that includes Paris. Switzerland is a beautiful, safe country to visit (we live there) as mentioned above... Nothing here quite as exciting as Rome, or Venice in my girls' opinions though...but if your daughter loves the outdoors it can't be beat.

Have fun!!! Please share what your final itinerary is and how it goes...

BTW, I'm taking my #1 to Paris for her October birthday so let me know if you find any good youthful ideas... I'm thinking Bateaux (sp?) Mouche, Angelines, Eiffel Tower, Versailles, (and, with her, we will see a lot of the art since she loves that...probably more than I do...)
gruezi is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 01:19 PM
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Hmm, this is a tough one. I would be tempted to do the Paris/Italy trip as how can that be beat? I would certainly do some winder shopping and the cooking class sounds like a great idea. The culture lover in me would insist on hitting some museums, churches, historical sites, etc. I noticed my kids enjoyed those kinds of places more when we took a guided tour so I would opt for a few of those.

Of course, if she really wants to go to Monte Carlo...
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