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Only 16....

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1. Posted by -kel- (Full Member 38 posts) 12y

Hi all!!

I'm 16, from Australia, already travelled to the US, Thailand and most recently Italy with group of friends. Had the time of my life(so far i might add haha ;)). Just finished year 11, managed to go to school 7hrs a day, 5 days a week, play sport 5hrs a week after school and work on average 20hrs a week(and save over 80% of that money). i cant wait to take a long, much awaited holiday!! As my busy schedule will continue throughout next year, while finishing my last year of school, i'm starting to get a rough plan of my holiday now!!

I have a fair bit of travel knowledge - well enough to keep my parents from going crazy at the thought of me going overseas for 3months!! - but as this will be the biggest trip so far, i'm just trying to do as much research and get as much advice now so the trip is as enjoyable and hassle free as possible!!

Everytime I have been overseas I have used ATM cards and small amounts of cash and have never had any problems however I can't really compare it as I haven't used travellers cheques before. Should I stick to ATM cards and cash or check out the travellers cheques?

So far a friend and i are planning to leave November '05 and come home Feb-March '05. We want to go on a contiki tour throughout Europe and then to venture off by ourselves to the countries unseen on the tour. The countries we want to see(whether on our own or on a tour) include Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, UK and Greece. Some tours include these and others but this is our rough guide so far.

Are there any other countries you would recommend? Are there any particular events and monuments we should see?, the best and cheapest way to travel?, best and cheapest places to stay?, any advice would be great so we can get more of an idea of what we want to do, and more importantly, what we can afford!!

cheers,

Kelly

2. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 12y

re: ATMs vs. Traveller's Cheques - There are still a few people who will sing the praises of traveller's cheques, but in general I think ATMs are your much better option.

re: best / cheapest way to travel - The cheapest way to travel is to walk - it's free ;). I'm just being a boob, actually. I have no idea for Europe. I think it's train, but I've never been there. I just wanted to post something stupid about the walking thing.

Enjoy your trip. I wish I had the guts you do back when I was 16.

3. Posted by -kel- (Full Member 38 posts) 12y

Hi Greg,
Thanks for the tips, even though you said you had no idea haha as for the travellers cheques, i think that's the way i'll end up going(although a lot of things can change in the year before i leave...)because it just seems like ATM cards are more convenient and much less hassle when i need some money.
anyways, thanks again

Cheers,
Kelly

4. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 12y

It's not a bad thing to have a few travellers cheques there for an emergency, but in Europe ATMs are certainly the way to go. I would recommend having more than one card though, otherwise you can gurantee that it will be swallowed/lost/pin won't be excepted etc, and then you are in a little trouble...

Also - make sure you ahve enough in your account or somewone at home is topping it up, and VERY IMPORTANT if your young and will be away more than a couple of weeks - make sure the bank knows that you are going to be away and the card will be being used in strange foreign countries. If you don't, they may assume it's stolen and shut the card off. By then, it's too late, even if you explain it to them. I once had a card swallowed in Bulgaria at about 16ish, and then had to work out how to get back to the uk without flying and with no money. It was the most incredible journey, but i also know i was amazingly lucky.

Cheapest is walking (or hitching/cycling/pogo sticking - yes, really - but not sure i'd recomend any of them to you...). I swear by trains in Europe, excepting a few remote places when buses work out better, and of course ferries depending on where you are.

Where to go and what to see i can't comment on as there is so much. You need to do some research/whatever first or at least give an idea of what your looking for. Can probably help then.

One final thing - be aware that some hostels etc won't let under 16's/some under 18s stay there unaccompanied, especially females or if it's mixed dorms. There's not so many now and you can usually avoid them, but be aware it could happen - And when it does, it will almost always be somewhere which is so packed there's no other bed for 50km in any direction, or the middle of nowhere/very late at night where places won't accept you. In the Uk for example, hostels with on site bars often won't allow it as a precaution against underage drinking, although i always managed there. At that age a little planning ahead can be very helpful - I'd also make sure they realise you are under age. I got caught a couple of times places where i'd pre booked, but they hadn't realised i was under age, so when i turned up they wouldn't let me stay. But it's generally fine.

5. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 12y

Hi Kelly,

Congratulations for gaining so much travel experience and knowledge in such a short time.

I thought Europe was fantastic ... so diverse and cultured. Wherever you go, I wish you the best of luck !!!

6. Posted by nieck (Full Member 24 posts) 11y

hi,
i'm not quite sure if europe between nov. and march is what you want to do - might be damn cold at that time (at some of the places you listed) and you will have to carry/wear thick clothing thoughout your trip - if you are planning to go skiing or snowboarding: that's the right time.

if you are looking for a full-time adventure you also might to consider becoming an exchange student...
by being an exchange student for a semester or a year you get a really deep insight into another culture and an understanding of how cultures work in general.
it's not always fun, but it's everyday life as it is everyday life at home - but it's different and always thrilling.

Youth For Understand and American Field Service are two major good-cause organisations in that field and offer exchanges in a lot of coutries worldwide.

www.afs.org
www.yfu.org

ADMINS: these are NON-commercial links/organisations, so there should not be a reason to delete these links.

aight... merry x-mas.
nils

7. Posted by Tsjebber (Full Member 58 posts) 11y

Hey dude first I wish you a lot of fun for your trip. There are a lot of beautifull countries to see in Europe. And the great thing is that there are a lot of culture differences and the countries are small. ATM cards are definately the way to go in Europe. Credit cards are not as common as in the States or Canada.
Realise that most of the countries you picked are expensive. During fall and winter Holland, Belgium and the UK will have lots of cold weather including rain and wind. Switzerland is the most expensive country in the Alps. Austria is way cheaper. Be aware that if you are travelling the alps during the snowseason it will be very hard to find accomodation. Book at least half a year in advanced. Countries like Kroatia, Romenia, Tsjech Republik, Slowakia are also great places to go and really cheap compared to the countries I described beforehand.
Most expensive countries you named are the UK, Switzerland and Holland.
Too bad you won't be in Europe for our summer. There are a lot of great festivals during the summer period and none really great ones during the winter. There's one at the beginning of October in Germany near the Austrian border called Oktoberfest. It's in Munich and a great beerfestival. Also nice surroundings if you go to south in the direction of the alps.
Also be sure that you wear some Euro's with you for convienience. For example not every restaurant will provide atm's. I wish you a great time. Heard good things about Contiki. Another organisation that you can check out is Topdeck. Heard good stories about them too.