Me and my 2 friends will be taking a Eurotrip as a graduation gift. We are all 17-18 is there any advice on anything in general? We are traveling to London,Paris,Belgium,Amsterdam,Berlin,Venice and Rome by the way.
Congratulations! My passion for travel also started with a Europe trip that my Dad gave to me when I was in high school. It was an eye-opening experience and changed my life. Since you are traveling with friends, there is safety in numbers, so that should not be a problem. (Anyway, it is relatively safe over here compared to big cities in the U.S.) But just "watch out for each other". And that includes in regards to alcohol consumption and partying. Maybe have an agreed upon signal that means "o.k., we've had enough." Sorry, if I sound too fatherly. Also, those cities that you mention are great, but can be a tourist madhouse in summer. I'd suggest planning a couple of days in nature too. Any chance of getting away to a small village in the Alps or the French countryside, etc, for a day or 2? Its another side of Europe that is worth seeing. Have a financial plan. Keep a journal, for heaven's sake! (One day it will be a treasure.) Enjoy! Savor each day! Happy travels!
Yoli, I have traveled as a young adult to Europe, and the biggest piece of advice I can give is to make sure you go with the proper attitude. What I'm about to say is going to sound like me talking down to you, so I apologize. I don't meant to talk down, just giving advice from my experience.
Europe is someone's home, not a playground. Of course, Europe is full of these awesome places that are new and exciting. But it is important to remember that other people live where you're traveling. So above all be courteous and respectful. The people have their own worldviews and ways of doing things that are different from the way you have experienced. Treat your trip as an opportunity to learn something new and you will have a much better experience.
I've traveled with too many young adult Americans who act disrespectfully to locals when they are in Europe. Try to fit in. (i.e. I've seen them get kicked out of pubs for behavior that is accepted in America but isn't accepted in Europe.)
The next best thing I could tell you is to try to blend in. Not many 17-18 year olds in Europe are dressing like Eminem. Jeans aren't baggy and/or ripped, they are neat and stylish. Ballcaps aren't cocked to the side and sitting up really high on their heads. In fact, few wear hats at all. Wear clothes that are simple and easy to care for.
And try not to have enormous pieces of luggage that you take everywhere. If you must have your luggage outside of a hotel then lock it in a locker at the train station. A day pack or backpack should be simple and functional.
The reason it's important to blend in as much as possible is because then you won't stick out. When you stick out you become an easier target for petty crimes such as pickpocketing. You don't need to fear getting jumped and robbed or anything like that. Petty theft is your biggest worry.
There are a ton of other things I can suggest such as a money belt and what to put in it. 1000 characters isn't enough room.
Legal drinking age for beer and wine is 16 in most Western European countries, 18 for destilled alcohol. Whereas French, Dutch and Italian beer is as thin and watery as American is English, German and especially Belgium beer is much richer, contains a much higher proportion of alcohol and due to its overall consistency works differently inside your bodies. And in Amsterdam a coffee shop - even if it's got a green logo haning outside, is not exactly what a Starbucks is back at home ;-) Whereas carrying with you the "coffee" you bought there is perfectly legal inside of the Netherlands do not cross the border to Germany with it. Within the Schengen zone there are no border crossing checks but "Federal Police" do spot checks on trains and especially target your age group. Of all the cities you mention in your list Berlin will be the least expensive and the one with the best nightlife. Keep that in mind when finalizing your itinerary...
If possible use just a little common sense. I know teenage years are supposed to be for making and learning from mistakes, just don't blindly stumble into something you can't get out of. Don't go alone with a group of people who insist they are taking you somewhere great. Don't carry so much stuff that you can't keep track of it, that's when it gets stolen.
I know you want to have fun. Believe me it's possible without risking disaster.
In short: Pack light (you will be happy you did!). Use a money belt. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Know where you're going (consult a map before you leave the hotel, and bring a map/directions with you). Be careful if you're out after dark, and take public transport or a cab back to your hotel (instead of walking dark, unfamiliar streets). Be wary of some street vendors. Bring comfortable shoes. Don't wear clothing with holes/rips or anything that shows your midriff. Be careful of alcohol-it can sneak up on you. ;-) Take pictures. Most of all: HAVE FUN! This will be a trip you will never forget. :-)
I read a great tip recently for document safety. Instead of making a copy of your passport and/or credit card scan the documents into a photo quality scanner and email the file to yourself. That way if you do happen to lose your passport you can access the internet, pull up your email, and retrieve the copy. The passport office or embassy can print it. This will help them replace your documents more quickly, and you don't have to worry about losing the copies.
Please, please use the money belt. It may feel uncool, but the peace of mind is so worth it.
Second the comments about sticking together, don't go off with strangers and most of all have the time of your life!!
Basically keep your wits about you. The only time we almost had a problem was when my friend and I stayed after a bar closing on Paros, the owners were Brits and they let about 15 of us stay chat and continue drinking, we then stumbled back to our hotel very late, and dead drunk. We didn't realize that we had been followed by a fellow who accosted us and was yelling at us in a foreign langauge( we have no idea what language) but luckily for us the bar owner had a bus boy follow us home and he jumped out and started screaming at the fellow and the fellow ran away. The bus boy then told us in no uncertain terms we had better be more careful about wandering around dark streets drunk as skunks, he walked us back to our hotel and that was that. We were lucky but no thanks to us.. twits( hey your're only young once, and the drink menu was alphabetical so it seemed like fun to drink through the list a-z, we only made it to L I think, LOL !!
This advise is good whether male or female.
MONEY BELT!!! Wear it all of the time!!! Guard eachother's while you're in the shower or lock it into a locker and several photo copies of your travel documents and hostle/hotel lists. When you get to the hostel have the clerk write down the name and address in their language for all of you incase you get lost/separated. Have a plan if you get separated--ie. where to meet. My friends and I always do these things (among others--ie never leave each other in the bars, stop each other from drinking too much...) and we've always gotten home safely/never had a problem. I agree with the other writer about acting respectfully--I have seen pleanty of Americans and others act stupidly and disrespectfully and get totally ripped off because of it..I love it when Europeans say to me
'you don't seem American' when I tell them my nationality..my goal is to dispel that 'ugly American myth' let that be your goal too!! Have an awesome trip and make it one of many!!!
Get a eurorail pass. We used the heck out of ours and when we added up what we would have spent we saved well over $300.
pack lightly!! As Mr. Steves says--if you can't walk comfortably around your city then it's too much--go home and re-eval...I dumped half of my stuff 1 week into my trip the first time. You'll thank yourself for packing light--insist that your friends do to--so you won't have to hear them complain or help them carry that hair dryer that doesn't work on 220!!
I love Berlin--check out some of the nightlife there---it's awesome...
Becareful in Rome--I was treated with much more 'attention' then I would have liked...
It will be a trip of a life time--remember to enjoy the little things--I went to Europe the first time 13 years ago and my favorite memories are of the little things we stumbled upon! Take lots of photos! I've never come back from a trip and thought--I wish I took less photos!!! I hope that this trip is the begining of a life long travel obsessio
Also, I know I have a lot to say but I am really passionate about young people traveling....I like to take peanut butter with me--all of my European friends are obsessed with American Peanut butter...it was/is a great converstation starter in the youth hostels at breakfast or for a late night snack in the communal room. Also, for picnics--great money saver...plastic wear (fork, knife, spoon and small plastic container), good shoes--be fashionable if you would like but remember you will be walking on uneven pavement A LOT! I like to take postcards or photos of home to show to my new friends. Plastic bags, a hosteling sheet, and towel..
I am so happy for you!!! Good luck!
My best thoughts for anybody in a small group is to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Of course, blend in where you can but don't get so engrossed with your traveling companions that you are not watching whatever may be taking place around or near you. This is how theft and pickpocket crimes get set up. Have a great time.
Drink like (most) Europeans drink!
With food! With appreciation for the wine, beer or liquor you are drinking.
A little for lunch, a little for dinner, etc.
I've seen to many young Americans lurch about drunk and stupid, because alcohol is so easily accessible here for young people, compared to the USA.
It is NOT okay in Europe to be drunk in public, even though it is very okay to drink in public.
Unfortunately the insane rite of 'coma drinking' has also reached the shores of Europe, you might encounter it, especially in London.
Europe is very safe in general, violent crime is rare, but as already mentioned: wear a money belt, pick-pocketing is rampant in busy tourist areas.
Don't suffer from the 'Disney Syndrome'! Europe is not like Bush Gardens, even though you have paid 'admission', people live, work and worship in the places you will visit.
You will find that Europeans are a lot more indulgent and generous with young people than Americans.
Don't ever hesitate to ask for help.