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Son travelling for first time in Europe!

Going to France/Spain for a week by the seat of his pants in August! Doing the hostel route, but any advice on do's and don'ts?

Posted by
9110 posts

Do: Take my bet that he'll only make two stops and won't get to a border in just a week.

Don't: Worry about him.

Do: Encourage him to come home eventually.

Don't : Get mad if he doesn't for a couple of years.

Same advice if he has a little sister that wants to follow his tracks.

Posted by
16877 posts

Do read http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/theft-scams and encourage him to carry his valuables in a moneybelt that stays hidden under his clothes. Lots more travel tips in the same section. We prefer old-fashioned paper guidebooks, even if he says he'll do all his research online.

If your son doesn't have reservations for anything yet, then he should at least reserve his first hostel/hotel for Paris or wherever he's flying in. As soon as he decides his next destination, he can try making a reservation online or by phone, or ask one hostel to call ahead to the next hostel, but this is more likely to work if he's not headed to beach or resort towns, which get very crowded in August.

Train tickets for crossing France and Spain are pretty expensive, although he may still get some advance-purchase discounts if he reserves them soon. See http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/cost-maps for an idea of regular ticket prices. He can compare the price of flying at www.skyscanner.com.

To book advance-discount tickets for Spain, www.petrabax.com is currently the easiest US resource. Rick’s France rail travel page has the link and tips for buying “Prems” rate TGV tickets through SNCF (cheap, reserved, nonrefundable, available three or four months ahead of your travel date) to print at home and pay with PayPal. It does not tend to work with US credit cards, unless you have an extra level of security set up, so after the cheap Prems rates are sold out, you have to switch to other web sites.