Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Summer trip for sons 21st bday (

liseferen Apr 6th, 2014 06:08 AM

Summer trip for sons 21st bday
My husband and I are taking our son to europe for his 21st bday. His first time in Europe. Plan is for 10-12 days. Was thinkinking Paris Barcelona and...not sure what else. Another city in spain? London? Florence? Want to see sites but also relax a little not have to try to cram. Of course he wants chance to party a little. Any suggestions?

liseferen Apr 6th, 2014 06:33 AM

My husband and I have been to Europe before so we are really trying to make this a great first experience for our son. Would also like him to enjoy a night or two out on town by himself but not have to worry.

StCirq Apr 6th, 2014 08:19 AM

Two places is plenty for 10-12 days. Paris and Barcelona is a good combination. Either place he can go off on his own. He's 21; he's been an adult for 3 years. Most European kids have been traveling all around on their own for 5 years or so at that age. Just make sure he's aware of the normal precautions about pickpockets, etc.

sandralist Apr 6th, 2014 09:26 AM

Has he expressed any preferences? What time of year? Will it matter to him about the country's language? I would have had preferences at age 21 and would have wanted to make the choices if this was meant as a present for me.

nytraveler Apr 6th, 2014 10:10 AM


He needs to pick where he want to go.

What are his interests? Any sizable town has an area filled with student bars and clubs that he can find in 5 minutes that he can find by looking at any student guide.

Also - how is his French or Spanish. Granted most students will speak at least some English - but it would be thought odd if he didn't speak any of the local language.

liseferen Apr 6th, 2014 02:00 PM

Thanks for ur replies everyone. He says he doesnt really have a preference he is up for anything but I do realize from ur responses that it might be time for me to cut the cord.

nytraveler Apr 6th, 2014 04:42 PM

If he really doesn't care at all perhaps europe isn't for him. Does he really want to do something else?

There is nothing worse that a totally bored young adult being dragged around by parents.

Perhaps he wold be happier doing Latin America - or just sit on a beach in Hawaii.

I wouldn't plan a trip for someone with no interest at all.

Robert2533 Apr 6th, 2014 06:52 PM

At 21, it's time for him to be off on his own! As harsh as it may sound, let him head to Europe, or wherever and enjoy himself, experience life without mom and dad. He can backpack, stay in hostels, meet people his own age and with his own interest. A 21 year old does not need to rest and relax!

justineparis Apr 7th, 2014 12:39 AM

Send him on a Contiki Tour.. filled with young folks.. my 18 yr old nephew went alone to Europe on one.. he actually messed up and booked his plane ticket to arrive 8 days before tour.. so spent first 8 days in London on his own.. amazing because he was from a VERY rural area up here in Canada.. and had never even taken public buses ( they had none where he lived ) and had only just turned 18( and had come into a small inheritance from my mom.. so off he went)
If he could do it I am pretty sure your son could.. being older and likely not from the country!

It will help him feel grown up and on his own.. yes.. Contiki are party tours in a way.. but they do see most major sites.. and he will love meeting other young folks from all over. My nephew still communicates with some of the kids he met.

Other then that I suggest letting him go on his own and stay in hostels that way he will meet other young folks ,, likely not going to happen if he is with you in some nice 4 star hotel.. lol

Paris , London, Rome, Barcelona are all good choices. If he goes on his own London is a good start as he would have no language barrier. My nephew stayed in a hostel and thats how he managed to enjoy the first 8 days on his own.. it was easy to befriend people there so he had folks to socialize with a bit.

justineparis Apr 7th, 2014 12:41 AM

Ps nothing wrong with going as a family either.. but it might be easier for him to socialize if he is with other young folks..

For ten days two places is plenty. you lose time with travel inbetween places.

Gretchen Apr 7th, 2014 01:42 AM

I think the family travel is just fine--we took all our kids and their spouses/to be fiancée to Paris. We still go on family ski and beach trips. Memories are made at all ages and stages of life.
It would be nice for him to say--but what the OP has chosen are winners--and he can do some things by himself also.

nytraveler Apr 7th, 2014 03:24 AM

A family trip is fine - but not with someone who really doesn;t seen to want to go.

It sounds like he is being dragged along - rather than doing a trip that will be exciting and interesting for him.

Gretchen Apr 7th, 2014 04:51 PM

We might need to hear it from him--definitely.

stokebailey Apr 7th, 2014 05:18 PM

Go with him! It's a wonderful gift, and he'd have much more fun with you than alone. Soon maybe he'll be off married or in another city, and you won't get to enjoy each others' company.

I agree that 2 cities is plenty, though.

Nikki Apr 7th, 2014 05:28 PM

When my two daughters were around that age, we traveled together and had great trips. But I can easily picture both of them saying that any place would be fine, and they were happy to let me do the planning. They also traveled independently, the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. I treasure the memories from those trips, and I know that my daughters do also. I do not understand the posts attempting to discourage this family from making this trip together.

I would not make the assumption that just because the son says he doesn't have a preference or is up for anything that he has no interest and would be bored. The OP knows her own son better than we do.

liseferen Apr 8th, 2014 08:55 PM

I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and suggestions. I think I'll take the advice about only going to two places. Nikki, thanks for ur post. His lack of preference is definitely not due to a lack of interest. My husband & I both did the backpacking thru Europe trips in our 20's before we even met and I look forward to my son doing the same on his own. But, right now, we want to enjoy his company while he is still living home and willing to enjoy ours and, by sharing some great memories together. As stokebailey mentioned, he will most likely be off on his own soon enough so we want to grab this opportunity while we still can.

Gretchen Apr 9th, 2014 03:25 AM

GREAT. Our kids have often said how much they have enjoyed our trips together--and particularly the European ones for "showing" them "how to do it" and introducing them. AND when travelling with Mom and DAd, they may eat some places on their nickel that are also memorable and lovely. Have a GREAT time.

kimhe Apr 9th, 2014 07:18 AM

Great nightlife in the medieval Born area in Barcelona, plenty of cafés, tapas bars and music bars in and all around central Passeig del Born. Excellent part of town both night and day. Much people out and about until 3-4 in the morning, at least on week-ends:

A great variety of places, but generally relaxed, laid-back and very friendly atmosphere:
El Born Bar:
Barroc Café:

Robert2533 Apr 9th, 2014 10:16 AM

If he's still living at home at 21, he'll probably hang around a few more years.

Gretchen Apr 9th, 2014 04:36 PM

Nice, Robert.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:50 PM.