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Need help planning a trip for 2 18 year old girls

Need help planning a trip for 2 18 year old girls

Old Nov 7th, 2013, 11:41 AM
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Need help planning a trip for 2 18 year old girls

Hello everyone,

I am trying to get ideas on planning a SAFE, fun adventure for my daughter and her friend. This will be her high school graduation present. They want to go for around 14 days in late June/early July.

Areas that they would like to see: London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Venice, Munich
I know it is alot but they probably won't be able to hit all of them. At least the first 4.

Looking for ideas on ways to travel (which trains), places to go and see and try to get the most out of the trip. Inexpensive hotels near the main parts of the city that won;t cost an arm and a leg so they can easily get around (walking).

My biggest concern is their safety with 2 young girls traveleing by themselves!!

Thank you for your great insight. It is greatly appreciated
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 11:50 AM
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Just two quick comments for now:

1). That might be too many places for such a short time. They will have jet lag and lots of travel time to deal with.

2) don't get upset if you get some push back from some of our European members. Most of them wouldn't dream of planning a trip for their 18 yo/ I.e. adult children.
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 11:53 AM
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Unless yuo are going n the trip with them - they should be planning it.

First - they need to decide what THEY want. If they don't do the work up front they won;t enjoy the trip nearly as much

Second - if there is a problem they need to know all the details to be able to handle it.

As for safety - unless they are incredibly naive they should be fine - no different than traveling in the US or living at school

If they really want to know they can come here and ask. But I would suggest they look at the Let's Go Student Guides and the Thorn Tree section of the Lonely Planet website to see how other students travel - and get the best info and tips.

When my 18 year old went with 2 friends a couple of summers ago she told me where they planned to go (briefly) in the week at home before the trip - and in more detail after they came back.
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 11:56 AM
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Looking for ideas on ways to travel (which trains)>

Well the European train system is fantastic and safe even for solo young gals - when you settle on the itinerary you and them can go online in the various National Railway sites and book all their required tickets if you want or they can do as they go along

But advance booking often now results in a sizable discount over just showing up at the station - but discounted tickets are sold in limited numbers on each train and thus musts be booked weeks in advance to guarantee and then typically are non-changeable non-refundable so they have to make that particular train or have to buy another full-fare ticket - there are also Eurail Youthpasses for anyone under age 26 but in 14 days where they will presumably spend most of their time in cities like Lonon, Paris, Amsterdam, etc they probably won't be traveling enough on trains to merit even looking at railpasses.

Check out these IMO fantastic sites for understanding the European rail system - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.

And buy them a copy of Let's Go Europe - the 'Bible' of young backpackers with a wealth of relevant to younger folk in it - or check one of the your library and have them take it, etc.
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 11:59 AM
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I don't have any problems with people helping out two 18 year olds plan a trip, I think it is a good idea. Perhaps it wasn't noticed, but this is a GIFT and that is why it is going to be more or less arranged. Nothing wrong with that, it is kind of a completely different gift to say I'm giving you a gift to plan a trip to Europe, go do it yourself with $x. And the parent here is probably going to need to figure out what things cost before deciding a budget, also.

I agree Let's Go is a very good resource for that age. I'd worry about hotels later, that is the easy part. Narrow down the itinerary and figure out how to get between the cities first.
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 11:59 AM
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The reason they picked all of those cities is because she originally was looking at the Contiki tours and that is most of the places they visit.

In reality, you can probably take out Venice and Munich.

They are going to plan much of their trip, I wanted to use the suggestions from this forum to give them ideas on what to do. They would have no ideas on where to stay and what hotels are good and bad. I am just dooing some of the early leg work for them.
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 12:05 PM
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I am just doing some of the early leg work for them.>

And IMO well you should - they are high school kids who have little idea of what such a trip entrails - forget the daggers and you'll find lots of folks here who want to help not just criticize. janisj warned you!
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 12:06 PM
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Basically what I am looking for is to figure out how many days to spend in which city. I have never been to Europe. For example: How many days would be enough in each city to get a good feel not just a quick visit and running to the next place.

As Christina noted, this will be a gift. I do not want them to go ultra cheap but not an unlimited budget. I need to get an idea how much this is goinng to cost. Once I get a ballpark figure, then the plans can start to be tweaked.
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 12:11 PM
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You are only talking about two weeks. When you deduct all the travel time you are looking at three cities max really. Five or six days in London, five or six days in Paris and a couple of days in a third city.
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 12:18 PM
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To be able to squeeze in a 4th city, would there be enough time to do everything but cutting a day or 2 from London and Paris? For example: 4 days in London and Paris, 3 days in Rome and 2 days in Amsterdam?

Again, once it is figured out how many days in each city, then the next step would be trying to plan what to do in the city.
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 12:29 PM
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Let THEM decide . ..
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 12:30 PM
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I agree that three destinations is ideal. They'll lose a travel day, or most of one, getting between places. So I'd say 6 days London, 6 days Paris, and 2 days Amsterdam, for example, but you could play around with that. You'll want to get them open-jaw tickets in all likelihood (flying into city X and out of city Y), so as to avoid backtracking.

As for safety, they'll be a lot safer in those cities than they would be in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and DC. European kids of their age and younger travel all over by themselves (with any luck, the girls will meet some of them). They do need to know how to keep track of and protect their valuables, of course. Nothing quite screams pickpocketing target like the 18-year-old who hangs her purse on a café chair and tosses her iPAD on the table. They can read up here and on Trip Advisor and Thorntree and elsewhere about how to keep themselves and their possessions safe.

Since they seem to be visiting only big cities, they will want to travel by train. Tickets are cheapest when purchased considerably in advance and from each country's individual national railway. There's tons of information here on how to do that. Before they get to each city they should familiarize themselves with that city's public transportation system so they're not looking naïve and bewildered (which is an invitation to be taken advantage of).
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 12:33 PM
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"Again, once it is figured out how many days in each city, then the next step would be trying to plan what to do in the city."

If you flip this statement around and think in terms of what they want to see and do in each city, it might help to plot the amount of days. Will they want to see lots of museums and art, shop, explore markets, etc. If you have an idea of what is attracting you to each city, you can plan on amount of time.

What city are they most excited about?
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Old Nov 8th, 2013, 01:24 AM
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Good advice above. I'd look at the http://www.yha.org.uk/ in London, these are not hotels but very safe hostels with a range of rooms and also a chance to meet a bunch of like minded people. Given that you speak English they should get an easy intro to Europe-Lite as the UK can be described.

Some of the London YHA hostels are well placed for the things the girls will want to see.

As they step into the France and Holland you can choose hotels.
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Old Nov 8th, 2013, 06:21 AM
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Just a reminder to be sure to factor in travel time when counting the number of days in each city. Even with a morning flight arrival, it will likely be lunchtime by the time they get through passport control, collect their bags, and transfer to their London hotel. And they will be jet-lagged.

Then, they will typically lose about half a day to travel each time they move cities. If you are thinking 4 London, 4 Paris, 2 Amsterdam, and 3 Rome, you really have at best 3.5 London and Paris, 1.5 Amsterdam and likely only 2 in Rome, as it is more difficult to reach.. Another way to think of it is you need 5 nights in a city to get 4 days there.

If they really feel the need to tack on another city, consider a day trip outside a major city. For example, a visit to Oxford from their base in London. Happy planning!
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Old Nov 8th, 2013, 06:46 AM
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As everyone has suggested take into account travel times at jet lag to start with. I woukd suggest going to london first that way it will help them aclimatise to europe as we speak english. But I would suggest from there to go from london to paris via the eurostar train. This is due to the check intimes duration needed is shorter and with london st pancras and gare du nord stations both being in the middle of london and paris respectively, it is easier and quicker for them to get to their next hotel.
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Old Nov 8th, 2013, 07:05 AM
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Have them get some travel books and decide where they might want to go, then look at forums like this one. Ask specific questions and you will get some good answers.

I agree with msteacher that a day outside the city would be a good idea.

I disagree with those that recommend Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree. The questions I see there when I look at it are as bad as the worse ones here.
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Old Nov 8th, 2013, 07:16 AM
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I also see no problem with your helping these girls plan their European vacation. My children, smart as they are, could no more have planned a trip like this by themselves when they were 18 than sprouted wings and flown! The "devil is in the details" and that's where a parent can be most helpful.

First, as so many have already suggested, have the kids do some research as to what they MOST want to see and then pare down their list to, at most, 3 destinations. There's no reason to see Europe from a train window which is what they will do if they try to visit more than 3 cities.

Second, instead of hotels, suggest the girls stay in hostels. That's where my kids have always stayed when they travel overseas. Hostels aren't just huge dorm rooms--they also offer private en-suite rooms. (My kids never stay in the dorm rooms in hostels.) My kids used HostelWorld.com to find and book their hostels. They tell me they like this website because the hostels are rated and reviewed by people who have actually stayed in them. They said that they found the reviews to be quite accurate so they didn't encounter any surprises. Also, hostels are a good place for young people to find others with whom to sightseeing, dine, and socialize--something they probably wouldn't have in a hotel.
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Old Nov 8th, 2013, 08:55 AM
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Not sure the girls would really know what to do? I understand a lot of research is needed. In the major cities (London, Paris and Rome) there are a million things that can be done in each city.
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Old Nov 8th, 2013, 10:04 AM
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Hihrmkr, what a wonderful graduation present! I am sure that the girls will be so excited. I think that it is nice that you have the time to do some research for them as well. I agree that their input into what they want to see and do is important but any and all suggestions from those that have been to Europe are certainly beneficial to the trip planning. Isn't this what we all do when we plan our trips? I rely upon the expertise of others who have been to the places I am planning to visit. My adult daughters always ask my advice when planning trips as they know that my husband and I travel and cruise frequently and have a better knowledge of what to expect than they do.

I found this website that you might check out:

http://www.aesu.com/default.aspx

It is geared to the 18-35 age group and they have many nice educational trips that your daughter and her friend would like. There are some discounts if traveling w/ a friend. Check it out and see what you think. They would be traveling in a group w/ similar ages and also meet new friends that they can hang with. Think it would fit the picture nicely. I am sure if you google you could find other young adult trips as well. Good luck. Happy planning for you, your daughter and her friend.
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