travel to Europe alone?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-07-2003
travel to Europe alone?
Wed, 05-07-2003 - 9:28pm
I have a 17 year old daughter (very mature for her age) who wants to travel to Paris with her 18 year old boyfriend. Part of me wants her to go and experience another culture, but another part of me feels that I'd be too lenient to allow her to go. She has already had sex with him, so that I'm not concerned about, and she would be paying for the trip with her own earned money. Does anyone have any input on this situation? I don't know what to do, help me please! Would you let your child go?
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 05-07-2003 - 11:06pm
Well, risking the wrath of all here ...

I have a dd turning 19 next month who, last August shortly after her 18th b-day, went away for 2 wks to Costa Rica with her then 19 yo bf. At 17, I would have said no. At 18, here anyway, she is legally allowed to do anything: drink, gamble, get married w/o permission, vote, buy property, whatever. She'd been given money from her dad as a grad gift. Her bf paid his own way. They both planned this trip for a solid year and I mean a SOLID year and PLANNED it thoroughly. They changed destinations a few times. They attended travel agency meetings. She worked in one as a work experience program through her grade 12 courses and got a lot of information. They checked into everything: what shots they needed and arranged and paid for the shots; they had travel insurance, overseas health insurance. They checked for whether it was best to travel with cash and whether the places they were staying at had debit machines (one did; the other did not) and how difficult/easy it would be to cash traveller's cheques. They first thought it'd be fun to just *go* and stay whereever but decided that it was too risky for their first time travelling as neither one had a credit card at the time and they couldn't be sure just how much everything would cost, so they elected to go for two all-inclusive travel resorts and had additional money for shopping and excursions. All throughout the year, they proved repeatedly that they were approaching this with greater thoroughness than I have ever planned a trip, and showed maturity and caution when necessary.

I didn't agree with their decision to travel together but I also knew that I'd rather her travel with a guy over a girl, esp overseas and on her first trip alone and I trust him. I didn't allow her decision to interfere with my relationship with her. She still shared all of what she was planning and called me practically every day they were away to talk about what she was seeing. This past year they have been planning and saving for a different trip which may not come through as she is thinking about purchasing a car for herself and he has bought himself a major purchase so we shall see.

I think you have to make this decision yourself. My dd has always been mature for her age as well; she has learned the lessons of standing up for what you believe is right at a young age and is self-disciplined and has a very good, strong head on her shoulders. But even the difference between when she was 17 and when she was 18, there was a very discernible difference in maturity.

How well planned is your dd's trip? How well thought out? How many aspects has she checked into? Reservations made? Fares checked into? Insurance? Safety aspects? Contacts for you to have while she is away? How much has she planned *with* her bf? How dedicated does he seem to her and to the trip itself? Has she arranged to get her passport and will pay for that herself? My dd and her bf went to all these places together, filled out forms together, found out where and how to get the specific passport photos taken, had them signed by the appropriate person, attended twice at the government agency that handles them. Has your dd figured out currency exchange rates and checked out various places to stay, compared pricing, asked about safety in the areas she is thinking of staying? Does she speak French? Does she know how to deal with emergency situations? Has she talked to people who have been there as a tourist and gotten feedback on the best way to travel with cash - i.e., my dd learned to use a money belt hidden under her clothes, something she hadn't thought of till speaking to several people who had gone there. I provided my dd with a "Call mom" calling card; the card could be used only to call me so she did not have to use collect calling or finding enough change or paying a huge hotel room rate, etc. That was the only thing I provided her with for this trip.

So, again - this is something you should decide but these are the kinds of things that convinced me that my dd could handle this and would be careful in all ways while she was there.

If she goes, I wish her a wonderful time!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-06-2003
Thu, 05-08-2003 - 2:18am
How's her French? That may seem like a silly question, but it is important. I was 17 during my first trip to France and I have to be honest, they weren't too eager to help out an American.

It depends on where she's going, how she's traveling, where she's staying, etc. How long is she going for?

Personally, I'd steer her toward Sweden.