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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

Jun 15th, 2007, 08:23 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,057
Well unless the US is very different to the UK I can't imagine that they give 13 year olds credit cards.

As I said - anywhere you are likely to spend a decent amount will take debit cards (usually there's a minimum puchase of around £5), but for snacks and pop etc he'll need cash
audere_est_facere is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 08:26 AM
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Yes kids that age may have credit cards thru their parents.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 08:43 AM
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If your son is packing his shampoo, toothpaste etc. in his suitcase to check in he won't have any problems. However, if he is planning to carry it aboard the plane - he must put all his toiletteries into a plastic zip lock bag otherwise the security will toss it. I think the items must be in 3 oz sizes.
nanabee is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 02:45 PM
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Yeah...I think the countries I'm going to (France, Italy and Greece) accept Euro. Do you think that I should carry both cash and a debit card?
hthefuture is offline  
Jun 16th, 2007, 01:32 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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My son went to China with People to People between 7th and 8th grade. He just finished his freshman year of high school. The suggestions that others have given you are very good, but I have just a few to add.

1. Money-We used the Visa Buxx card and found that to work wells. However be sure to notify Visa Buxx that he is going out of the country and the dates. Also check to see what the weekly maximum for withdrawals are on your card. I remember having to send an email asking for that amount to be raised for him.

Although the year before his P2P trip we had taken him to Europe so he was familiar with international travel, I found that I worried excessively and stressed out about everything. Money should not be a problem because P2P pays for just about everything while on the trip. All my son needed money for was suveniors, gifts and the odd food items like ice cream. Some kids I know burned through money on the trip-"hey mom's not around I can buy whatever i want" while I kept on sending my son emails saying it was okay to spend money (after my lectures about not spending money) the kid only spent $300 while in China for 3 weeks.

Make sure he knows his pin and you can reset it here to something he can remember. Take him to a local atm with the visa buxx card to make sure it works and that he knows how to use it. That same summer our neighbors child (who was in high school) took the visa buxx card for his europe trip but forgot to take him pin and he lost the letter saying what it was.

If possible, and it might not be at this stage, try to have a back up source of money for him. We can our son a atm card in my name to a small savings account that we had in case he lost his visa buxx card. I resent the pin so that both cards had the same pin.

You don't have to really preorder money over here. The chaperones take the kids to the atms in the airports right when they get off the plane to get money.

Also make sure your son understands about keeping his money safe from pickpockets. No wallets in the back pockets or in the outside pockets of daypacks. My son kept pocket money in his front pocket or money neck pouch, his visa buxx card was hidden deep inside his day pack and the secondary source of money was hidden in his suitcase back at the hotel.

2. Food-since this will be your son
s first trip abroad, pack some power bars, dried fruit, nuts etc. in his suitcase. Although China's food was more exotic, my son appreciated having a few snacks in case he got hungry on the bus or in the hotel room.

3. Packing. I second the packing tips received. I made the huge mistake of getting my son this fancy backpack from a travel store as his day pack while other kids just took their regular school back packs. The thing was way too big and bulky and in fact I gave him permission to chuck it on the trip. he said he left it in the hotel at most stops. Have him take some clothes in his day pack for the plane in case his suitcase goes missing (my son took one days changing of clothes). Also pack a day or two before hand and then take stuff out. You really want a 22 and no more than a 25 inch suitcase on wheels since he has to be responsible for everything. The worse is over packing. As we were driving to LAX, I was grabbing things out of my son's suitcase since it was clear I had packed too much.

A light weight jacket for rain, a small travel umbrella are good things to take. In most malls is store called "Brookstone", I found a great umbrella and travel clock there. I also got my son one of those squishy pillows which he liked having since he could use it on the bus and plane and then pack it in his suitcase. Also pack some kind of soap for washing out clothes in the sink. They are responsible for doing their own laundry but can't visit a laundry mat so just pack enough underwear so that is not an issue.

If he wears contacts, try to pack a backup pair.

4. Books/Maps. I got my son these laminated small maps for the cities he was visiting. The maps are made by "streetwise" and you can get them in most major bookstore chains or on amazon. they fold up and are very user friendly. Although my son would be traveling with the group, he liked know where he was and where they were going. I also marked on them his hotel and the address in case he got lost. I wouldn't get a guide book for the places because kids don't seem to use them on the trip and usually have a guide, however my son found his language dictionary (small pocket size) very useful. It helped with ordering food, buying gits and with thier host famiy.

5. Gifts for host family: if staying with a host family for part of the trip, be sure to bring a gift for the family. I also bought my son some small trinkets to pass out along the trip if they saw other kids or when they visited schools. For example the students from Orange County brought disney magnets, try to have the gift somehow tie in with where you are from. I found these great inflatable glow balls which my son could blow up and show the kids where he was from as well as play a game with the kids. We also brought these parachute guys that the kids had fun with. Its not critical but just makes for being a good ambassador.

I also did up a small photo book so my son could show others his family, friends, home and school. I also sent a card to each hotel so that my son could have some mail from home. Most kids received cards from their parent so he was glad to get my 5 cards. You don't want to overdo it and make them homesick, but at the same time you want to remind him how proud you are of him and that you are thinking of him.

Also have him preaddress some envelopes for writing back to home.

6. Special things to pack-Since the plane trip is long, you might want to see if he wants to take something for sleepiing on the plane. We swear by tylenol pm and benedryl, however had him test it out at home to make sure it doesn't make him restless. My son took one tylenol pm and then snoozed for 6 hours so that he felt good when they landed. Ipods, gameboys, magazines, cards etc. are good things for the plane and bus/train rides. Also pack a flashlight-the kids like having them for nighttime touring and on the overnight train they goofed around with them for entertainment. Kleenex and hand santizer were also good things to have in his daypack as well as chapstick.

7. Final thoughts-Be sure to have your son realized that he is representing others when traveling so he should behave properly. My son's trip for the most part was great except for a small group of girls who decided to act as if they were in a "girls gone wild" video. At 13 they snuck out of the hotel in China the first night!! Since we had made our son pay for a quarter of the trip, he kept on thinking of his hard work and he was not going to blow it by acting wrong. What was interesting is that the parents began a set of "trashing the chaperone" emails while the trip was going on, we came to learn that it was they were the parents of the wild girls on the trip (they got someone to buy them liquor, they set their hotel room on fire, etc. since they were in China they couldn't just send them back on their own, they had to drag them around for the rest of the trip).

Try not to worry too much. Your son will have a wonderful time. We put on the plane a scared, not very confident 13 yr. boy, when we picked him up 3 weeks later we were greeted by a confident, adverturesome, happy young man. We kept on asking what they did to our son. Since that time, he has taken many other trips by himself and has no qualms at trying new things. Indeed he right now is trying to talk me into letting him backpack through Europe next summer at the age of 16 with two older buddies (ages 18 and 21). I may just let him.

Hope I wasn't too long, itsv
itsv is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 06:12 AM
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itsv - a very very impressive orchestration of what to do - very!
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 07:09 AM
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yes, this is great information - well done. i love the story about the "girls gone wild" - it could be turned into a movie!!
nanabee is offline  
Jun 24th, 2007, 07:20 PM
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Please let me know how your son's trip goes....mine is 13 and will be leaving for the same trip on July 7th!! You can email me if you have time. Thank-you! An additional Thank-you to the people who gave the tips on manners! My son has very good manners, and he will feel much better knowing what to say!
ADINACAT is offline  
Jun 25th, 2007, 12:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,998
Yes, our young traveller is on his way. We wish him, God Speed!
Anecdotal advice is often great...but we also need the advice available from State Department. Try: <http://travel.state.gov/>.
State emphasizes having adequate health insurance and means to fund an air evacuation. Children must know that foreign governments will not tolerate any kind of drug involvement. State provides up to date information about everything from local currency to security concerns.
GSteed is offline  
Jun 25th, 2007, 07:33 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 6,003
My daughter was "nominated" for this program several (4) years ago.

After attending the initial meeting (sales pitch) and hearing the price for two weeks in the UK, I used that amount and took the entire family to Europe for a wonderful 3 week journey. Of course we were blessed with a currently unobtainable ultra-cheap airfare deal and there were only three of us so a larger family and today's airfares would make repeating that feat difficult if not impossible.

The program looked to be a higher-end deal so I'm sure your son will have a fabulous time. Good luck to him.

MarkvonKramer is offline  
Jun 25th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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I see these kids a lot - I think their hotel must be in hammersmith somewhere.

they do all seem to be having a fabulous time. And they do all have American Hair.
audere_est_facere is offline  
Jun 25th, 2007, 07:49 AM
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and what the heck is American hair?

some kind of English stereotype - the thing i notice about teens these days or young folk is that there is no typical hair doo - especially boys - long, short and in between - tinted, curled piled up, etc.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 28th, 2007, 04:16 PM
Original Poster
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Posts: 57
Thanks so much for all the help! My son is now one week into his trip. I got the first call from him today, he is with a host family yesterday and today. Today he got to go to school with one of the kids. He said he is having a good time, but he is very homesick (which of course is making me very sad). He is spending more than we thought, but he said 'Mom there is so many neat things here' Of course I said okay, but try to slow down a bit on the spending.hehe One thing that I didn't quite understand-- he told me that he was eating pasta almost three times a day--pasta with tomato sauce, I can't quite figure that one out?!?! I did ask him if has gotten to eat fish and chips yet and he has and he said they were very good.

Tomorrow they go to Stonehedge and then onto the royal sailing acadamy for 2 or 3 nights then the last week is in France.

I'll be very happy when my son returns, although I think this is a wonderful experience for him, I really miss him!
iluvmyrott is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2007, 09:25 AM
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I can't imagine that he really is eating pasta three times a day - who eats pasta for breakfast?! I guess you could have it for lunch and dinner but I'm sure that's his choice rather than being inflicted on him Kids have a funny way of putting things sometimes.
nona1 is offline  

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