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Old 10-02-2012, 08:00 AM   #1
busy mom
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OT: Guided youth tour of Europe...any suggestions?

MY DD's, 18 & 21, are interested in visiting Western Europe next summer. Has anyone had any first hand experience with this? Should I visit my local travel agent for info? It obviously would have to be a guided tour, but geared towards a younger participant.

Any planning suggestions, tips, etc would be appreciated!
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:11 AM   #2
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At that age they could easily get a youth hostel international card and a train pass and just back pack. I did a few times with a friend and it was easy. Staying at hostels you meet others and can share expenses, experience etc.

So much fun!
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:28 AM   #3
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aesu and contiki have been around the longest. I sold them to students at Ohio State when I worked there in the 70's. Most students were travelling with backpacks, a Eurailpass and a Youth Hostel card then and I think lots still do it now. Get a copy of Lets Go Europe either from the library or the bookstore and read about independent travel. I did it at 19 with a group of girls-there were 5 of us but we weren't always together. We had some 'adventures' and still laugh about it today as nearly 60yo women. When we needed money, we'd head to a vineyard, show them the callouses on my best friend's hands-her family owned and operated a big farm and orchard-they would hire us based on her abilities and when we had enough money to move on, off we'd go.
I'd also look at Rick Steves and Globus tours depending on how much time they have and how regimented things need to be.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:42 AM   #4
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Yes I did it on my own at 21. I think they would be fine with a rail pass and hostels. I don't think a tour would be as much fun. You really get to know the culture walking around the cities vs. driving through on a bus.

I had great experiences all over Europe- but my favorites were Italy and Greece.

I also did tours in high school and they were fun but I was ready to do it on my own by the time I was 21. I lived off that Let's Go Europe book.

cracking up that the place I stayed out for "one night" that turned into 3 nights is still around
http://www.thepinkpalace.com/

$12 you get overnight lodging, breakfast and DINNER! (back then it was half a chicken with veggies) for $12~ I paid $10 25 years ago back then you could sleep on the roof for only $4 and get breakfast and dinner. And I'm still alive!

Last edited by java; 10-02-2012 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by busy mom View Post
MY DD's, 18 & 21, are interested in visiting Western Europe next summer. Has anyone had any first hand experience with this? Should I visit my local travel agent for info? It obviously would have to be a guided tour, but geared towards a younger participant.

Any planning suggestions, tips, etc would be appreciated!
Why would it have to be a guided tour? They're awful. They're also expensive and boring and etc.

Get them plane tickets, maybe a couple of rail passes if you're really nice, rucksacks, some spending $, and a Lonely Planet app, a hostel/Y locator and tell them to have a great time!
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:38 AM   #6
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My SIL and her BF did a Contiki tour this summer and loved it.

When I was in Europe at 19, we did it all on our own: Eurail pass, hostels, or cheaper hotels.
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by java View Post
Yes I did it on my own at 21. I think they would be fine with a rail pass and hostels. I don't think a tour would be as much fun. You really get to know the culture walking around the cities vs. driving through on a bus.

I had great experiences all over Europe- but my favorites were Italy and Greece.

I also did tours in high school and they were fun but I was ready to do it on my own by the time I was 21. I lived off that Let's Go Europe book.

cracking up that the place I stayed out for "one night" that turned into 3 nights is still around
http://www.thepinkpalace.com/

$12 you get overnight lodging, breakfast and DINNER! (back then it was half a chicken with veggies) for $12~ I paid $10 25 years ago back then you could sleep on the roof for only $4 and get breakfast and dinner. And I'm still alive!

I can't believe this is still standing. What great memories this brings back. Here's another vote for a backpack, Eurail pass, hostel card and Let's Go Europe. They will have the adventure of a lifetime. At least nowadays you have cell phones, back then it was pay phones.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by java View Post
Yes I did it on my own at 21. I think they would be fine with a rail pass and hostels. I don't think a tour would be as much fun. You really get to know the culture walking around the cities vs. driving through on a bus.

I had great experiences all over Europe- but my favorites were Italy and Greece.

I also did tours in high school and they were fun but I was ready to do it on my own by the time I was 21. I lived off that Let's Go Europe book.

cracking up that the place I stayed out for "one night" that turned into 3 nights is still around
http://www.thepinkpalace.com/

$12 you get overnight lodging, breakfast and DINNER! (back then it was half a chicken with veggies) for $12~ I paid $10 25 years ago back then you could sleep on the roof for only $4 and get breakfast and dinner. And I'm still alive!
Oh my, the pink palace. Togas. Ouzo. Second Worst hangover of my life. Why did you bring this up?
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:06 PM   #9
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Let me be another voice in the "don't go the tour route" crowd. I was brought up going on tours as that's what my parents prefer, and there are some definite benefits to traveling that way, but in general you can see more and spend less if you plan your own vacation. Especially if you're willing to stay in lower cost hostels and the like. Also, there are some great places to visit where the majority of tour companies just don't go, or if they go there they only give you the watered down 3 hour tour of the location.

For example, completely coincidentally my parents planned a trip to France and Italy last year, two months before we planned a trip to France and Italy. They took a tour, I made all our travel plans myself. We probably spent approximately the same amount. But DH and I traveled for 3 weeks (to their two), stayed in hotels that were closer to the action (and sometimes nicer), and visited a lot more diverse areas. For instance, my parents tour took them to the Cinque Terre (an idyllic little area on the west coast of Italy). They spent a couple hours there, visited 3 of the 5 towns, and walked between two of the towns (taking the easiest route). DH and I hoofed the train from Florence to the Cinque Terre and spent all day hiking between all 5 towns, ate lunch on a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean, and caught a late train back to Florence at the end of the day. The latter is a lot more of a "young persons" type thing to do.

Now, that being said, my parents also didn't have to contend with a rental car in France (something my DH now regrets), nor did they ever have to drag their suitcases through city streets to the train station at 7am. So yeah, there are benefits to a tour. You worry less, and stress less, but you also (I personally believe) experience less.
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Old 10-03-2012, 12:06 AM   #10
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Another Contiki vet!

Did a two week tour that went through 8 countries.... Loved it! It was a great way to figure out which countries I wanted to visit later... And I enjoyed the friends I made. People on the tour were from all over - Australia, UK, Puerto Rico, South Africa and the US.
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