HELP MOM! 17 year-old son to Paris,

Dec 18th, 2004, 04:24 AM
  #21  
 
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Julie, For a more age-appropriate alternative, I'd look into a homestay program for your son. There are non-profit organizations that make arrangemnts and chaperone groups of unattached kids during school breaks and the summer. One excellent org. to contact is Experiment In International Living in Brattleboro Vermont. This may be more expensive, but is a time-tested way for teens to travel. There may be other trips organized by private schools/camps, that are open to the public. One in Washington is Sidwell Friends Summer. He could also work as an au pair. Contact Alliance Francaise. Many young people have found low-cost ways to connect with France over the years, not just as tourists. I would strongly suggest you put HIM in charge of the research, and have him speak to his French language teachers about his interest. Bonne chance!
jenpen is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 04:32 AM
  #22  
ira
 
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Hi julie,

>I would strongly suggest you put HIM in charge of the research, ...<

I fully agree. If he can plan the trip, you will be much more comfortable letting him go.

Best of luck.
ira is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 04:35 AM
  #23  
ira
 
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PS
The Thorntree forum at www.lonelyplanet.com might be useful.
ira is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 04:36 AM
  #24  
ira
 
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BTW,

Why does he hate his French teacher?
ira is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 06:16 AM
  #25  
 
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I think a 17 year old high school graduate might feel he is too old for the type of "teen tour" Scarlett mentioned. I was looking for a language study program in Spain for my 18 yr old high school graduate for the summer and found www.nrcsa.com, which is a very reputable clearinghouse for foreign language study abroad. There are quite a number of approved programs for teens in France, although I think the minimum stay may be 2 weeks.
BarbaraF is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 10:30 AM
  #26  
 
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Not all 17 year olds are the same. Since you say he is not worldly or well-traveled, and since you are doing all the research (it appears), I suggest he is maybe not mature enough to travel solo.

That said, you could look into homestays, school exchange programs, organized tours, finding a friend for him to travel with, waiting the short time until he is 18 years old.

There's tons of kids his age traveling Europe, staying in hostels, backpacking, etc. (just take a look over on lonelyplanet.com BB called The Thorn Tree) but these kids have a wealth of experience, while it seems your son is a bit more sheltered.

I encourage you not to be frantic or discouraged. Trip planning takes alot of effort and is even tougher if neither you or he is experienced. If you can't pull off the trip this summer (which I believe you still can) how about for his graduation gift giving him a couple guidebooks and a promise of a trip on his next school break or summer vacation?
suze is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 12:26 PM
  #27  
 
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Another factor to consider, is the fact that 'you have to work to pay for it all' and therefore can't go on the trip yourself. In investigating some of these trips for students for our own daughter several years ago, my reaction was "For that kind of money, we can all go." Not surprisingly, that has been the outcome, too.

Think about that aspect, since it is not the job of a parent to go into some kind of self-denial mode in order to provide comparatively overpriced experiences for children that the parents also find to be well out of reach for themselves. It may not be the SAME trip that you take, but it may also be a better one and it can be a heckuvalot more fair.

I know several people who are staying home this year because they decided they had to send their high school kids on various, costly "once in a lifetime" adventures. These are 16 and 17 year-olds for whom a serious premium is being paid to be involved in pricey trips that necessarily include covering the freight for a host of services and people because that is the way things like this work.

Everyone makes their own decisions on what is worth it to them and how to use their resources, but for julie who started this thread, I urge you to be fair to yourself while you proceed. Working moms deserve that much, as a general principle.
Flyboy is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 01:42 PM
  #28  
 
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I agree that your son;s level of experience and maturity are a key factor here. When I was 19 my boyfriend and I spent 6 weeks in europe - but I was a self-supporting college junior and he was a 23 year old grad student who had lived in paris for a couple of years. For us - it was a breeze - a fantastic experience.

But for a 17 year old who is quite sheltered it might be overwhelming - and it's easy to make mistakes that can be fairly serious - at least financially.

Realistically - I would make sure he does most of the planning for the trip - starting now. If he can;t pull that off he's going to have trouble navigating a foreign city/culture for himself - not to mention budgeting his money and avoiding the usual tourist pitfalls.

Example: On another board there was a thread not too long ago about (adults!) who had been cheated playing 3-cared monte. They were so naive that they thought it was a legitimate game - and that they could actualy win money. Now, any city kid of 11 or 12 knows what three-card monte is (dealer, mark, 2 lookouts and dip) - but here were adults losing significant amounts of money in this ridiculous game. How aware is you son of this kind of thing? How perpared to deal with this? Or invitations to a bar by extremely charming youg "ladies"?

Not suggesting that 17 is too young - it's not. But if he's going to do this he needs to get polished real fast!
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 19th, 2004, 11:16 AM
  #29  
 
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Maybe this is a generational difference? My foreign travel didn't begin until I was self-supporting (early 20's). I blieve this helped me build travel skills naturally, gradually, learning from each trip. The early ones into the Caribbean, later to Mexico, etc. I didn't make it to Europe until my 40th birthday!
suze is offline  
Dec 19th, 2004, 11:40 AM
  #30  
 
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Don't panic Julie. You have plenty of time to plan a simple one week trip to Paris.

As for being only 17, don't worry. Those gargoyles are just stone and won't hurt anybody.

Jenpen recommended the Alliance Française. I second that motion but I believe that the minimum stay is one month. It would give him some structure in his days and allow time to do some sightseeing. You also get to improve your French and meet people from around the world. Our class hung out together in Paris and had some great parties, much to the consternation of my neighbors. I met my ex-wife at the Alliance Française.

The Alliance Française has a housing office and can locate low cost rooms for students. It is a lot of work finding a budget place in Paris on your own, especially in the summer, so I would consider that issue your first priority. I stayed in a hotel and went out looking for an apartment every afternoon. After a couple of weeks I found a nice furnished studio on the left bank and camped in for four months.

Buy him a copy of A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway and a Michelin Green Book to Paris as send-off gifts. Skip the tour stuff. You can probably put him in the AF for a month for about the price of a one week tour.

Find the AF web site and give them a call. This will be an experience your son will remember for life.

hopscotch is offline  
Dec 19th, 2004, 03:46 PM
  #31  
 
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It seems wrong that you are working hard, having panic attacks and doing the research for a trip that is supposed to celebrate the entrance into adulthood.

If your son wants the trip, you should give him a specific amount of money, let him earn anything over that amount that he will need, and leave the planning and research to him. If you don't feel comfortable doing that, I wonder how comfortable you will be putting him on the plane and saying goodbye.

My first unaccompanied trip to Europe was at age 19. I did a summer study program through LSU because it was the cheapest program I could find, and I had to pay for the majority of the summer myself. I had been to Paris once with my family as a young teenager, but being in a school setting, with other students my age, language, art and history classes about the sites we were seeing, and the security of living in a dorm with a meal plan all made the trip much more fun and much less stressful for a young person traveling alone.

I would suggest that your son might find the trip more worthwhile and much more FUN if you postpone it until next summer. Give him a set amount and let him earn the rest, while rounding up some friends to share the trip. This way he can share rooming costs, feel safer in hostels and have someone to share the experience. If you let him plan and go with a friend, the same amount of money will go much farther than on a tour.

Good luck!
BlueSwimmer is offline  
Dec 19th, 2004, 06:28 PM
  #32  
 
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I agree with the person who suggested EF Tours. They are wonderful!
lly01 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2004, 08:42 PM
  #33  
 
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You might want to give your son a Visa or Mastercard gift card or an American Express TravelFunds card when he goes. It will be better than giving him one of your credit cards or getting one of his own, and better than carrying cash or having to cash traveler's cheques.
LarryJG62 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2004, 09:00 PM
  #34  
 
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On the various budget travel forums that tend to be populated by younger travelers, the standard budget figure for European cities is about 40-75 Euros per day. This covers hostel, food, entertainment and attractions, and miscellaneous expenses, but not transport. So for one week, I think it would be very reasonable to have a budget of airfare + $600 USD + $100 USD for transport. In other words, I think it would be reasonable to have a budget of somewhat less than $1500 USD total for this trip, and if he wants something more deluxe, he can provide the extras. This would be if you choose not to go with the language programs or guided tours.
WillTravel is offline  
Dec 20th, 2004, 10:36 AM
  #35  
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Thank you to everyone that came up with (wonderful!) suggestions! I will be looking into optional tour groups that were suggested(thanx SOOO much!)for underage students. I will try to get him into either a tour group, or (most likely-because of time constraints-send him along with his best friend who is 18) In reply to StCirq...Ouch! a bit harsh! but thats O.K...I'm sure I sounded TOTALLY clueless-My only frustration is finding a place for him to stay at 17!!!!! I DO have time to plan...All done with SATs, Already accepted to college,graduation planned...just not the trip!(I HAVE been to France, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, and most recently, Japan...no less than 2 months in any of these countries! so...THERE!..<PHBLTTTT!>..heh..heh..!)But, anyway..It looks like he'll be with a friend, and stay in hostels, so...thank you all for the support and HELPFUL suggestions! Oh,as to WHY he didn't like his last French teacher...She retired...and her last year was HIS class--Guess she "gave up" early on her students, (from what was relayed to me via principal) and the students had to suffer as a result. Oh, and lastly, this is the ONLY year I'll be able to send him-I'll be full-time school next year, so will he = NO
MONEY...next trip is to INDIA with the Whole family (side trip to Saudi Arabia)in 2-3 years, so...NO Paris until he graduates from college, or pays his own way...He turns 18 in late August, right when school starts-too late for a quick trip, unless he misses school...And my budget is around $3000.00-$3500.00 for a tour, including airfare (now I guess it wiil be a little higher due to another person-$4000.00? but staying in hostels-they should have a REAL good time!) So..THANK YOU EVERYBODY!! Julie.
julielancaster is offline  
Dec 20th, 2004, 11:54 AM
  #36  
 
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you might contact People to People. They do student trips; however, he may need to have been "nominated" to participate. It's worth a try.
jill_h is offline  
Dec 20th, 2004, 11:54 AM
  #37  
 
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Oh I just love a happy ending! Seriously, safe and happy travels to your friends and family.
suze is offline  
Dec 20th, 2004, 12:04 PM
  #38  
 
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Based on the figures I've read, People to People is terribly expensive for what you get. And the nomination process is a sham. But there have been other posts about P to P on this site and elsewhere.
WillTravel is offline  
Dec 20th, 2004, 03:15 PM
  #39  
 
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i would look into sending him to a language school, family stay for the amount of time your budget allows.
they will have a few hours of class in the morning, and many other international students like him, to hang around with.
if he stays in family with half board it is cheaper than the resident programs.
they are collected at airports, if you pay for the transfer, and have optional activities in the afternoons.
it turns out to be be a very good deal for the money.
usually you can go for minimum two weeks.

there are also missions through churches, projects, and volunteer programs you can sign up for all over the world. would be a great experience to have helped in a social project overseas. i am not aware of exact websites.. i just know friends whose children have done it.

god luck.
i also agree that i don't know how much "fun" it would be to go ALONE to paris at 17 unless you went with some organization/partner to help you take full advantage of the experience.
lincasanova is offline  

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