HS Graduation Trip to Europe

Feb 26th, 2008, 05:22 AM
Original Poster
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HS Graduation Trip to Europe

My 18 year-old son graduates HS this year and he and two buddies are headed to Europe for two weeks. As to be expected they are cramming way too much into the trip but they're young, strong and can survive on no sleep!! I'd really appreciate feedback from anyone with hints or cautions with regard to safety. We've heard that young "foreigners" can be targets and, in particular, Amsterdam was mentioned. They are flying into Paris and hope to hit, Amsterdam, Venice, Rome, Berlin, Prague, and Brussels using train and air. My husband and I are seasoned travelers but we're not 18 and know our way around Europe but these are three kids off on their own for the first time.....Yikes!

Obviously, we'll be giving a lot of advice but are there any specific known problems in any of these cities that they should be aware of so that they can travel freely and not be vulnerable? I have contacts in Paris, Italy and they are being hosted in Brussels. They plan to use hostels at the other stops.

Thanks very much.
jaimeGL is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 09:26 AM
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A key thing to remember is that in europe 18 year olds are adults - not kids.

Undoubtedly they will be in bars and clubs - and not very experienced - so make them aware of the standard scam (beautiful young girls that find them irresistible, take them into clubs, order drinks at huge prices - often a bottle of champagne at 100 euro or more - and then having heavies there to be sure they pay up).

So - warn them to stick to bars/clubs that are really for students - with appropriate prices - and to stick to beer or wine

Also- if they decide to take one of the brewery tours make sure they understand they're not expected to drink all of every bottle on the table - just tasting is OK. (We were at the Carlsburg tour in Copenhagen and 2 young men - by their looks from a country that bans alcohol - drank everything they could get their hands on, made themselves sick - and eventually had to be hauled off by security. I don;t now if they were arrested, but they were incredibly drunk and quite obstreperous.)
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:15 AM
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Hi jaime, you might want to talk them into getting money belts where they could store their passport, extra money, ATM card etc.

Also, although they probably won't need it (hopefully) will their medical insurance cover them while in Europe?

My stepgrandson did a trip like this about that age. We were, uh, worried, lol. He did fine and came back so much more mature.

They will have cellphones I assume that will work in Europe. Make sure they have your European contact programmed into their cellphone just in case they need to make contact.

Many European kids that age travel all over Europe. And let me tell you often their parents worry too, lol. If these young men are savy and won't go overboard crazy they should be fine. But do review with them regarding what nytraveler posted. And honestly, I do understand your YIKES..but get use to it as from now on your son will be out there experiencing the world. And actually jaime, that is a good thing. Best wishes.
LoveItaly is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:26 AM
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Thanks both of you! I'm actually excited for them but all of us parents just want to make sure they have a great time and come back safe. You're right....they are all off to different parts of the US for school in September and this is just one time we'll let them go.

Thanks for the hints and tips!
jaimeGL is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:26 AM
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Go to Irish Pubs to meet other English speaking younger tourists.
kleeblatt is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:58 AM
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for such a wide-ranging trip be sure they investigate the Eurail Youthpass for those under 26 - can be a real bargain depending on frequency and types of trips they take between cities.
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:04 PM
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They might like to sugn up at the Thorntree Forum of www.lonelyplanet.com

Lots of folks nearer their age there.

ira is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:46 PM
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Drop at least Venice and Brussels, maybe Rome. There is enough of value to see in the other towns to fill 2 weeks, and they are better boozing locales, and unless they are some pretty odd 18 yo boys, then that will be more important than any sites they may miss.
travelgourmet is online now  
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:30 PM
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I hear you travelgourmet but Rome is a must for them. We've all tried to cut down the itinerary but to no avail. They are already committed to Brussels as they will be staying with one of my oldest and dearest friends - nice bed for the night and some good Belgian food and the last stop before returning from Paris! I think we've done all we can to cut the number of stops down and trust me, it was worse when they first started planning with Frankfurt thrown in as well.

Trust me these are very normal 18 year olds and quenching their thirst is right up there on the must do often list, but Rome is of importance. I think it's way too much but I'm old and what do I know?

They do have the trains and planes pretty much researched down to timetables, etc., but I've told them that not every train in Europe allows unkempt students who've perhaps not had a shower for a couple of days on board with a Eurail Pass, so they need to plan accordingly. Rome they will travel to by plane and have looked into cheaper airlines within Europe; SleazyJet and such but even there they need to make sure they do it well in advance to get the good fares.

I'm looking into the cellphone situation. Thx. for that one. We will check on health insurance as well.

I appreciate all the advice and hints and welcome any more....it's easy to overlook something and fresh ears and eyes are always good.

jaimeGL is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:35 PM
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I wouldn't worry about trying to cut back their itinerary, they can figure that out for themselves.

I'd help more with the money belt, and making sure they have a couple different method of getting funds. They don't need cellphones imo (I never travel with one). They can use internet cafes to let you know they are OK every couple days.

I'm guessing the Amsterdam generalization has to do with the "coffee shops" etc.
suze is online now  
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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Go to STATravel.com. It's a site that's geared exactly to student travel, and is very helpful. We used it when our daughter studied in Florence. They also have storefronts in many towns in the U.S., usually near college campuses. They give good advice, and are young, so your 18 year olds might like hearing their tips.
Feb 28th, 2008, 07:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 76,445

Some fine sources for folks that age planning first-time European travel, presumably, rail travel, which, given your description, is a great way to meet other youths from many countries who are also traveling around - many with Youth Eurailpasses.

Let's Go Europe is by far IME the very best guide for folks your age to take and can be invaluable - especially if seeking budget lodging like in hostels or cheap hotels. They not only cover the more august HI hostels but lots of in many ways more client-friendly more centrally located youth hotels and private hostels. And for lots of train and railpass info: www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - on the latter request their free european rail guide that has tons of info. www.bahn.de is the best and easiest site i've seen for train schedules in all of Europe.

IMO the Eurail Youthpass is still the best tool for any travelers, first time, your age going on a wide-ranging trip can have.
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 28th, 2008, 06:50 PM
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Thank you all very much...I've passed on your trips and hints.
jaimeGL is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 08:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
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I agree with PalenQ. I'm planning my first foray to Europe as well, and Let's Go has been invaluable to me these past few weeks. I own Lonely Planet's Europe on a Shoestring, as well, but I find that I like the formatting and content of Let's Go a lot more.

If they haven't already, I definitely recommend that they check out http://railsaver.com to figure out the best passes that would work for them. I know for me, I was set on buying a Global Pass before going to the site, only to realise later that buying it wasn't the most cost efficient pass I could get.

Also, I second Ira's tip on signing up for Thorn Tree. I'm not much older than your son (I'll be twenty in two days), and I find that though I frequent Fodor's for the invaluable tips and personal experiences that the majority of Fodorites have, going to forums like http://bootsnall.com and http://tinyurl.com/2qcrcs have allowed me to meet potential travel buddies overseas. Also, check out http://backpackeurope.com, as it's information is more geared towards the younger backpackers. I know it's helped me a lot in my own planning.

Cheers .
alecksonajetplane is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 03:53 PM
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Thanks, all! We'll swipe some of these ideas for my daughter's graduation trip.
stokebailey is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 07:59 AM
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And in those two weeks these kids will learn more about life, foreign affairs and coping than they did in four years of high school.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 10th, 2008, 09:45 AM
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If they are taking one of the low cost airlines, make sure they will be able to take all their luggage on the flight without paying extra fees.

I had a friend who flew to Franfort last summer and the a small airline to Stuggart. It cost her and extra $150 to get her luggage there.
Randy is offline  

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