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Questions about a first trip to Europe for a 13 year old

Questions about a first trip to Europe for a 13 year old

May 24th, 2007, 03:23 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Questions about a first trip to Europe for a 13 year old

My son who just turned 13 is going on a trip to Europe in June with the People to People Student Ambassador program. They are to tour England and France. We've never been outside the US, so I have a few questions. He will be there from June 20 to July 9. What will the weather be like? Does France take the Euro? Does England? I ordered Euro for him, but forgot about England, I'm thinking they still use the pound~~is this correct? I'm not sending a lot of money with him, because he will have the teen Visa Buxx with him.

Any tips you could share would be appreciated. Thanks.
iluvmyrott is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 03:34 PM
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How nice for your son! He must be getting excited.

Yes, France uses Euros but England still uses pounds. Weather of course can vary but it will probably be fairly nice. I would imagine the People to People program will give him a list of what to pack.

I hope someone else whose kids have done the People to People program will chime in to give you more specifics.
KTtravel is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 03:11 AM
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Yes, they do give a general list of things to take, but was just wondering about the weather. Also, looks like I will be ordering the pound, when I asked the lady at the bank she said 'I think they take the Euro all over Europe.' I didn't think that was right--I should've checked it out better.

Yes, he is very excited, this is a trip of a lifetime for him. The cost was high, but it was so worth the experience he will have!
iluvmyrott is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 03:50 AM
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It also will depend what part of France he will be in.
Northern France will be much coller then the southern part.
Best is het can dress in layers.
The lady in the bank didnot really know..Euros arenot in GB, only Pounds.
If any Euros are accepted in GB it will be at a very bad excahnge rate!
Check www.wunderground.com for statistics of the weather in the past years in various countries.
Ida101 is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 04:51 AM
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I don't know how much prep work he has done regarding the cities he will be visiting but I would highly recommend you get some travel videos of those areas so he can see where he will be going. I think it will get him even more excited. Make him a little pocket conversion chart too so he knows how much he is really spending, because it may seem like "Monopoly" money. Also, go to the library and check out some French foreign language tapes. They may even have some for kids. He should at least know how to say please and thank you in French.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 05:38 AM
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What a great opportunity! You've gotten the answers to the Euro/Pound issue. In very, very general terms, it's more likely to be wetter in England than France, but you can't really count on that. Agree with the idea of planning to layer. We keep checking weather sites, then check a day or two before leaving to make any last minute adjustments in packing.

The exchange people will probably tell you this, but make copies of passport, credit cards, any ids and have him keep them in a separate place. Makes it so much easier to replace if lost, stolen, etc and gives him temporary id if needed.
dfr4848 is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 05:49 AM
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For us non-Americans (yes- we frequent this board too) - what exactly is the "People to People" program?

Who runs it? what is it trying to do?
chimani is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 06:21 AM
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People to People is an international student ambassador program started by former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Essentially the program exists to create opportunities for youth to learn about other cultures and communities, learn to interact with and communicate with others ultimately to promote world peace. It is a fabulous program and students from countries all over the world participate. They conduct a variety of different ambassador trips in various locations around the world each year. See the following link to see more about the program: http://www.studentambassadors.org/home.asp. My son loved his experience.
Momof3sons is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 07:30 AM
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That's ok, I'm American and I've never heard of the program either.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 08:10 AM
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I live in France, north west of Paris and my thermometer which is out of the sun reads 23.C at 6pm (it feels about 30.C in my house). So no layers of clothing. Take fairly light clothing but also a small telescopic umbrella just in case and good walking shoes as he'll need them.

Unused pounds he can change commission free in Central London into euros.

Most French people even in shops, hotels, anywhere expect a "bonjour" (literally good day) when you meet them. Also an "au revoir" (see you again) when you leave. Also of course, "merci" (thank you).

Make sure he gets familiar with the coinage as some unscrupulous people will take advantage of someone who isn't.

Best way to travel is by public trasport. Buses in the UK display destinations as do most bus stops. Underground has maps everywhere on stations (as well as on the internet) and is very easy to use.
The Paris metro is single fare in Paris and more if you go outside (airports, etc). Again easy to use (just watch everyone else) but long walks between stations, unlike the London Underground.
Maps of both are available at ticket office (called "plan" in France). A good city map is always handy. London has an A-Z streetmap.

Like any large towns, use common-sense and be wary of too friendly strangers.
kaneda is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 02:42 PM
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To add to kaneda's comment, I would recommend that your son say not just "bonjour/bonsoir", but "bonjour, Madame/Monsieur". Many French would consider it impolite for someone, especially a youngster, not use a title in addressing them. It is essential to greet someone before asking a question. Don't just blurt out "Where is ...? How do you ...?", no matter how rushed you are. A little politeness will significantly improve the willingness of the French person to interact with you. And don't forget to say "Merci, monsieur/madame, au revoir" when you're leaving/you're done.

I'm sure your son will love my next suggestion (ha!), but I would recommend that you and he trial-pack for the trip, several days in advance. He should be able to fit everything into a suitcase, duffel or backpack that's not much larger than carry-on size (e.g. 22" x 10" x 9" - which is a little larger than regulation size). If it doesn't have wheels, make him take the bag for a walk around the block a few times, including up and down several flights of stairs.

He probably has favourite clothes, but they might not be the most practical items to pack. For example, 3 pairs of heavy, baggy jeans aren't necessary - and jeans aren't very comfortable if it's hot or he gets caught in the rain. It will be hard to persuade him to leave them all at home, but limit him to one pair. Likewise, he needs at least 2 pairs of comfortable shoes (one pair could be sturdy sandals) in case he gets caught in the rain and soaks a pair. Heavy sweaters, fleece sweatshirts and similar items can also take up a lot of space and add weight, so edit his choices if he's inclined to throw everything into the suitcase.

A lightweight polar fleece jacket + a lightweight shell jacket should see him through most changes in weather. Of course, don't pack anything that needs ironing (unless he has to be dressed up for a special event). Let him pack old underwear that he can throw out instead of washing (but of course, pack some good stuff, too; he's going to have to do some laundry during the trip).

Pack a small emergency kit: 1) children's cold medicine in tablet form (if such a thing exists); 2) Compeed/Bandaid blister bandages; 3) Immodium (you never know); and 4) bandaids. Depending on where he's going (north of England?), you might want to pack bug spray.

It's also useful to pack his clothes with a couple of large, plastic shopping bags. Then he can segregate clean clothes from dirty clothes, and/or keep dirty shoes from mucking up other things. If he packs any toiletries (he doesn't need more than a trial size bottle of shampoo, a travel size bottle of toothpaste and a couple of mini bars of soap), these should go into a waterproof kit and then inside a ziplock bag.
Kate_W is offline  
May 28th, 2007, 05:48 AM
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To everyone, thank you so much, I have printed out all of your tips and suggestions.

Kanda and Kate W, thank you so much for the courtesy tips, we will definitely work with him on that, he is already quite polite (especially rare in the US now days, so he will appreciate those tips).

Momof3boys, when/where did your sons go with the People to People program?
iluvmyrott is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 08:01 AM
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sorry for the late reply - I'm not on much over the weekends.

My oldest son went to a leadership conference in Washington, D.C. the summer of 2006.

He and my other two have received invitations to other trips (Europe,etc.) but this one was the best fit.

My other two are looking forward to their chance to go in the next few years.
Momof3sons is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 09:22 AM
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iluvmyrott, I do have a suggestion for you. You said you've never been outside of the United States, but do you have a passport? If your son was injured or because of some other reason needed you immediately, it would be nice if you already had a passport so you could get to him very quickly.

He will have a great time, I'm sure!
Samsaf is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 10:20 AM
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Wow! I went to Russia with the Science & Technology group back in 1990. An unbelievable experience.

12 of the 15 European countries take the Euro, 3 do not yet: Great Britain, Sweden & Denmark.

He will at some point carry his own luggage. I suggest a rolling duffel and easily maneuverable rolling case and a light backpack to carry during the day.

I packed exactly what they had on the packing list. I wanted to pack much more, but as my very wise mother pointed out at the time, they've been doing this for 20 years, they have it down to a science.

Make sure he always keeps some cash on him for emergencies. Not every where takes plastic.

Weather channel or Yahoo weather are good palces to start.

ksprad is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 10:36 AM
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I'm sure you know this, but don't let him pack anything that you or he can't stand to lose (except, of course, you have to let him take his passport). My son went on a choir trip last month. When he packed to come home, he forgot his utility bag, which was no huge deal except it did contain his contacts. One of his roomates - this is a 18 year old boy - was put in charge of the trophy that the choir won, and left THAT in the room. If you've ever seen the types of trophies they give at choir competitions, they are 3-4 feet tall. So 4 boys, ranging in age from 16 to 18, were able to leave a 4 ft. trophy behind in a tiny hotel room, without any of them noticing it.
missypie is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 05:01 PM
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UK weather is hard to predict, it can be rather warm during the day, but he may need a sweater/fleece for the evening. A small umbrella or a water-proof jacket/parka with a hood would be a good idea.

About the coins... Euro coins have different designs on the back depending on which EU member countries minted them. So it's not a counterfeit if your son gets different ones. Ditto for the 1-pound UK coins--there are several different designs (including the welsh one featuring leeks).

I'm not familiar with Visa Buxx, but you may want to make sure it comes with a 4-digit PIN and make sure your son knows it. Most stores in Europe will likely ask him to type in the PIN code in lieu of signing the slip.

Also, both you and your son may want to keep a photocopy of his passport (just the picture page with all the details). If you're worried, you can also jot down the address and the telephone number of US consulate general. UK is 5hours ahead of EST, France is 6hours ahead.

I presume your son will be taking the train between London and Paris and flying back home from Paris. If not, ie if he is flying out of the UK, he can bring only ONE piece of carry-one luggage.

W9London is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 05:47 PM
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missypie -

The kid leaving the 4 ft trophy behind made me laugh! How true of some young people. I do hope they were able to get it shipped to them, though.
canterbury is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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Make sure to remind your son that one euro equals about $1.30. And, that one pound equals about $2.00. It can be very tempting to buy something that's "only 2 pounds" when, in fact, it equals $4 US.
canterbury is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 09:53 PM
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There are 27 countries in the EU, and the following 14 do not use euro: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden, UK and Denmark - so your bank could do with training its staff a bit better as at the moment more countries don't than do!

Weather - it should be good, nice and warm (possibly even hot) but also expect a bit of rain, so make sure he has a waterproof coat/jacket. Even a fold-up pocket one would probably do. He'll also appreciate a sweater/fleece for cooler evenings.

Don't forget the sun-cream.

It sounds like a great opportunity for him, hope he has a great time.
nona1 is offline  

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