teenage daughter 16yrs old travelling to Portugal with friend.

(102 Posts)
toots7 Thu 18-Apr-13 01:14:15

Hi everyone I am new to this, iam divorced over 10yrs have a beautiful 16 year old daughter who wants to go to Portugal to stay with relatives, by the way my daughter lives with her mum I have her every 2 weeks for the weekend. I don't have a problem with my daughter going to Portugal, even though of course I will be worried. The problem is someone has told my daughter it would be an adventure to go by coach stopping off at Paris for a few hours then catching another coach to end the journey in Portugal. At 16 year old I would prefer her to go directly by airline with a friend as mentioned. For some strange reason her mum doesn't seem to mind how she travels and seems unconcerned. Please help me Portugal will be worry enough, , but the thought of my daughter and her 16yr old friend negotiating the route scares me witless. AM I RIGHT OR WRONG TO DEMAND THAT SHE CAN GO.......BUT ONLY BY AIRLINE???.........Many Thanks.

hellsbells76 Thu 18-Apr-13 01:19:43

She's 16. She can leave home, get married, join the army. She's quite capable of getting off one coach and getting on another one. Well, she should be at her age, and if she isn't I'd be worried.

NatashaBee Thu 18-Apr-13 01:20:49

How much has she travelled, is she an experienced flyer? I don't think going on a coach is necessarily less safe than flying.

WorraLiberty Thu 18-Apr-13 01:31:41

She must have a strong stomach for all that coach travel...I feel sick just thinking about it!

But I'm not sure you can 'demand' with a 16yr old

Much better to try reasoning with her.

LittleEdie Thu 18-Apr-13 01:51:07

What do you think will happen if she does by coach?

DonCorleYoni Thu 18-Apr-13 02:03:15

Google some travel advice sites and read them with her. Discuss with her what she would do if various things went wrong. If she still wants to do it, put safety measures in place, get her a good mobile phone roaming deal and cross your fingers!

You can't demand anything from a 16yo, all that will achieve is you annoy her and make her unlikely to be open with you about other things.

You can't protect her from the world, but you can prepare her for it. Make sure she has maps, a phone card, change, mobile phone credit, knows some useful phrases, and most of all don't undermine her confidence because you aren't ready for her to grow up.

OkayHazel Thu 18-Apr-13 04:25:10

Cut the apron strings, 16 is old enough. Let her do it the way she wants.

Jinty64 Thu 18-Apr-13 04:58:02

Ok, I'm going to go against the grain here. I wouldn't let my 16 year old do it. I don't have girls, only boys, and I know they can be less mature but, ds2 will be 16 in the summer and, whilst I would let him fly from A to B to stay with relatives, I would not let him go by coach stopping off.

Could you take her to Paris for a long weekend sightseeing?

TheFallenNinja Thu 18-Apr-13 05:28:40

It doesn't matter what you say, she's 16, everybody else's idea is better than yours to hersmile

It sounds like great fun though, you may get a little more say if you research coach station layouts and timings etc and ensure that she has all the info on a piece of paper with her (also check later coach times etc)

At 16 she can bear arms and children. Be confident in the job you have done.

twooter Thu 18-Apr-13 06:11:32

I wouldn't like the thought of it either tbh. Not sure what she would get out of a few hours in Paris - if she has another coach to catch then she would be optimistic just leaving the bus station. And has she really thought about the length of time she would be stuck on the coach for? Far better IMO is to do a weekend impairs as a separate trip when she will actually have time to see something without panicking about the time.

NotTreadingGrapes Thu 18-Apr-13 06:26:27

I wouldn't like the thought of it.

Because I did it at 17 and know....

(ps, there is a train leaves from Paris and goes right through to Lisbon IIRC - with stops of course- which might be a slightly less arduous way to do it)

I did that at 16 I was on my own though. Not sure how my Mum let me go I looked like I was about 10.
I caught the bus at the top of our road, went into town, got two coaches into London. Then the train to Paris, changed stations, next train to the border with Spain, changed trains and went to Barcelona. My Aunt met me from the train and I had a great summer. Then did it all in reverse to go home.

Oh there was the ferry in the middle there too.
Don't think I'd let my Dd do it at 16. I'd rather a direct flight.

Cerisier Thu 18-Apr-13 06:48:16

Another vote for a direct flight. A complicated journey is fine if you have a credit card and can finance any unscheduled stop overs. Would you want her kipping on a bench in Paris because she missed the coach?

Let her do Paris another time when she can go for a week and do it properly. She won't do anything with a few hours in Paris.

By the way don't watch the film "Taken" until she gets back safely.

Mondrian Thu 18-Apr-13 06:51:46

I echo your sentiments not just due to age but I assume this is her first trip abroad on her own so best to keep things simple and tidy.

skaen Thu 18-Apr-13 06:52:07

I'd let my DD do it. I'd expect her to be able to tell me where one coach finished, the other began, how she'd deal with any delays, when she'd call home and that she had enough money to deal with problems.

I travelled with a friend through se Asia when I was 17 though and was not a very confident and independent beastie beforehand.

exoticfruits Thu 18-Apr-13 07:02:05

If she is happy and wants to do it then I would let her. In less than 24 months she will be an adult and can travel the entire world by herself, if she has the money, and there is nothing you can do to stop her. It would seem sensible, to me, to practise on a coach trip with a few hours break between coaches. I can't see why it is much different from doing a coach trip at home, going into Victoria coach station and having 3 hours to wander in London before you get the connection. It is a very safe 'adventure' IMO and since she is old enough to get married, or join the army, she doesn't need to be treated like a younger DD and put on one end and met at the other, like a package.

exoticfruits Thu 18-Apr-13 07:04:53

People do get alarmist! I can't see why she would miss the connection but if she did it is the days of instant communications and she could phone home- she doesn't have to kip on a park bench!

Gerrof Thu 18-Apr-13 07:12:48

My dd is 17, if she wanted to do this I would let her. I also think 16 is old enough.

Unlikely to get kidnapped from a park bench!

This doesn't make me an unconcerned mother. It makes me a pragmatic one.

Mind you the sound of a coach to portugal - urgh. But I probably would have thought differenlty at 16m

CautionaryWhale Thu 18-Apr-13 07:13:53

cerisier grin

Yep I was thinking of Liam Neeson in Taken as well....

NotTreadingGrapes Thu 18-Apr-13 07:56:25

If she misses her connection there will be others, no?

You've not done your job as a parent preparing a child for independence if your kid can't do this at 16. (barring SEN)

They can legally get married ffs.

I honestly think some parents forget that their role is not to infantilise children as long as possible but instead is to to make them capable of coping with normal adult life.

AmberLeaf Thu 18-Apr-13 08:08:15

16 Year olds can't get married or join the army without parental consent, which takes note of the fact that some 16 yr olds are capable and mature and some not so.

I would rather a direct flight, with a seperate trip to paris at another time, a few hours between connections really doesn't give much scope for exploration anyway.

If her Mum is all for it, it will be difficult for you to 'insist' on anything though, is her Mum going to equip her with a pre paid credit card in case of emergencies?

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 18-Apr-13 08:47:12

A direct journey, fine.
Various stops along the way, challenging.

If she and her pal are sensible types who can read timetables, be punctual and don't leave a trail of lost property behind them, why not.

I wouldn't be thrilled either tbh and that's not even with any knowledge about accident figures involving coach travel but if they feel up to it and they stick to some basic safety rules it would give them a massive sense of achievement.

If you and her mother can't agree on this a compromise might be getting across the Channel by coach then catching a train in Paris. Have the girls been on a long coach trip? Even a long distance UK one might prove off-putting.

exoticfruits Thu 18-Apr-13 11:23:05

We don't know how near 17yrs she is, but even if she is just turned 16yrs the most she has is 24 months to travel anywhere as an adult -and it could be down to as little as 13 months. This seems a good way to give her experience in a limited, fairly safe way. I can't see the point in over protecting and then waving them off to Peru or Thailand in a year and a half, if they want to go and can afford it.

toots7 Thu 18-Apr-13 12:11:48

Thank you amberleaf for reminding some folk that my daughter at 16 would still need parental consent to get married, ,join the army etc.......people, please, this is my daughter, yes she's mature and she will be with another 16yr old.....But neither have travelled abroad on their own. .......I am quite happy her going to Portugal, which by the way is brave enough for any parent and shows I am not stunting her independence, , but a long coach trip I feel is totally unnecessary at this stage, surely some ofyou can see that??......

LittleEdie Thu 18-Apr-13 12:15:57

But what do you think will happen if she goes by coach?

But why exactly are you concerned about her travelling by coach? What do you think will happen on a coach?

hellsbells76 Thu 18-Apr-13 12:18:28

She's not hitchhiking around Helmand Province. She's getting a coach to a European destination, waiting a bit, and getting a coach to another one, where she'll be staying with family. I fail to see how you 'allowing' her a trip like this is 'brave' on your part: a 16 year old should be quite capable of undertaking that if she's been brought up to have any sense at all. What exactly is your problem with a coach trip? The biggest drawback, as some have said, is that it's going to be dull as all hell, and long, and will eat into the time she could be having fun in Portugal.

jacks365 Thu 18-Apr-13 12:30:19

Just a thought who is funding the trip? You, then that gives you a right to insist where your money is spent if not then you can say you are not happy but you can't insist. Unfortunately we do need to let go, there are a couple of 16 year olds living in hall's of residence and totally fending for themselves at my Dd1's university they manage fine.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 18-Apr-13 12:33:44

Neither has travelled abroad on their own, got to be a first time? Can you not discuss this with her mother, I get the feeling you think she is being very cavalier about this. She must feel she can trust your daughter to be sensible. Watching out for personal safety and keeping valuables safe is the same whether your teen is travelling 100s of miles abroad or visiting a UK city or different part of the country.

a long coach trip I feel is totally unnecessary at this stage, surely some ofyou can see that??......

As you are new to this please understand, posters are likely to come on and give other views, they are taking your concerns seriously and giving you answers, (just not what you wanted to hear).

sweetestcup Thu 18-Apr-13 12:34:07

16 Year olds can't get married or join the army without parental consent

16 year olds can get married without parental consent in Scotland Amber and Toots actually.

toots7 Thu 18-Apr-13 12:35:13

Little Eddie, I have no idea what will happen if she goes by coach...........probably nothing. ....But I worry and care for my daughter just like all the parents on mumsnet.... I know it is irrational, and I can follow all the rules in the book so hopefully she will be safe..........But the toss-up between a direct flight or a coach journey for a first timer at 16.....really?,do I have to spell it out. ....like I keep being reminded, soon she will be 18.....she WILL and SHOULD be able to do what she likes, But it won't stop me worrying or love her less. ......I hope this comes across ok, am not having a go at you. ..... yours was a legitimate question, , thank you.

hellsbells76 Thu 18-Apr-13 12:43:51

'probably nothing' - well, what's the issue then? No one's suggesting you don't love your daughter, but she's almost an adult. It's time to start letting her make her own choices, and her own mistakes. The coach trip sounds like hell on earth to me compared to a nice comfy quick flight, and she'll probably realise that herself a few hundred miles in, but that's the thing about growing up - you do sometimes ill-advised stuff and you learn from the experience. (fond memories of Glastonbury '92 as a 16 year old - now some of the things I saw and did there would have given my parents kittens but they recognised that I was old enough to go off and make my own daft mistakes and (hopefully) learn from them.) This seems like a pretty safe way of letting your DD spread her wings to me.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 18-Apr-13 12:48:17

Talk to your daughter as an adult.Discuss your fears with her and come up with plan Bs for all situations together.

You will both be happier for it

LadyBeagleEyes Thu 18-Apr-13 12:48:35

I hitched round Europe at 17.
She'll be fine, it's an adventure.

Gerrof Thu 18-Apr-13 12:49:00

It is hard OP letting go. Yes it is perfectly normal to worry but your worries and anxieties shouldn't stop your daughter spreading her wings.

currentbuns Thu 18-Apr-13 12:51:06

Well, when I was 16-17 I was at boarding school. In the holidays, I undertook all sorts of trips unaccompanied, including train trips from Zurich to Paris with a two hour break in Basel or somewhere similar, a coach trip the length of France and a couple of round-the-world flights. On each occasion I was met/collected at the other end. I found all of these experiences very exciting and great confidence-builders. Looking back, I am so grateful that my parents made an accurate and positive judgement as to my common sense/ability to undertake these journeys alone.
I realise that it is a parent's instinct to be protective, but sometimes you really do have to let go. Your dd's mother clearly believes she is capable of undertaking this trip, and I would assume she is in the best position to judge. If you stand in the way of your dd'd plans - particularly by insinuating that she is immature/not responsible enough to travel on the coach, she will only end up resenting you.

You will worry about her for your whole life, thats a parents job, but its unfair to stop her doing things because of the way you feel about them.

WilsonFrickett Thu 18-Apr-13 12:53:31

I left home when I was 17.... just sayin'

If you're ok with the trip generally, I really don't see why the coach is the stumbling block. Which leads me to think that you're actually not OK with the trip, and keeping control of the method of travelling will make you feel like you have some element of control/say/comfort. Which is not a criticism AT ALL! I totally understand why you would feel that way. The thing is, your 16 yo isn't going to understand.

The thing she might understand though is the length of time it will take her to get there. Sitting on a bus for days isn't fun for anyone, have you tried that approach with her? How long will the coach journey take vs the plane? That's time she won't be spending on the beach wink

EldritchCleavage Thu 18-Apr-13 13:10:14

Long coach trip-fine. Hectic stop-off in Paris with ample scope for mishaps especially missing onward coach to Portugal-much less fine.

I think, unless she is very sensible and unflappable, that having to cross Paris for another coach or train, while not dangerous, just introduces a whole load of things that could go wrong.

So I'd encourage her to travel non-stop (by whatever means). You could sweeten the pill by (i) pointing out she'd get more holiday time; and (ii) offering to take her to Paris on another occasion.

5Foot5 Thu 18-Apr-13 13:20:36

Long coach trip-fine. Hectic stop-off in Paris with ample scope for mishaps especially missing onward coach to Portugal-much less fine.

Agreed. She will probably stand out a mile as a tourist and be an easy target for pickpockets. Don't want to be alarmist but who is going to be sorting out the mess when she has her mobile phone, passport and all her money stolen in the few hours she is in Paris. Think I am joking? I have been to Paris three times as an adult and on two of those occasions I have been the victim of pickpockets - and yet I did think I was being security concious and taking reasonable care but they work in organised gangs and are terribly good at what they do.

My DD is 17 and I would be unhappy about that trip soley because of the Paris stopover. A direct flight fair enough.

slhilly Thu 18-Apr-13 13:31:22

5Foot5, the plural of anecdote is not data. Just because you've been pickpocketed twice in Paris doesn't mean this person is going to be, even if they are 16.

exoticfruits Thu 18-Apr-13 13:32:07

Of course everyone loves their DCs and would worry about them- it doesn't mean that you stop them doing what is a very safe option, a coach trip in Europe. It is only changing coaches in Paris that is the difficulty, putting her on one end and off the other wouldn't be a problem. Maybe after she has done long distance coach she won't want to do it again - she won't know unless she does it.
You can't stay at home in case you meet pickpockets. Sticking close to a parent doesn't mean you are safe! Discuss what to do if it should happen.

Feminine Thu 18-Apr-13 13:37:30

My eldest is only 14, but I understand where you are coming from op

A direct thing is already enough worry grin

I traveled masses from 18 on my own, that is why I don't have a laid back way about it today! wink

YANBU ~ how you fix things though is another matter.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 18-Apr-13 13:49:07

I said in my first post, I would have reservations, but depending on their maturity, it could be a great milestone trip.

Surely if the girls are going, drum into them what to do if a particular scenario takes place, don't use fear of what-if to put them off trying something new.

WilsonFrickettmay have hit on the answer anyway, if debating the merits of coach travel vs a direct air trip, point out That's time she won't be spending on the beach.

It may be that the girls never expected their suggestion to be taken seriously, and they themselves were only angling to be allowed to fly to Portugal alone.

PS Lots of European cities have a reputation for pickpockets and scams, if you read of this kind of activity in Paris or Barcelona, do you cancel the trip, or exercise more care?

An unfortunate experience that happens to one person - even 3 times - won't necessarily befall another person.

Skybore Thu 18-Apr-13 14:01:24

I travelled a lot in my youth, Inter-railing round Europe at age 16 with a pal, on my own age 17. Amsterdam like a magnet, cool Paris, Munich Beer Festival, Yugoslavia only a few years before chaos ensued etc etc... And yes, many missed connections and incidents, getting lost, couldn't find digs after alighting at Marseille rail station at 11pm, many more. I had left school and had a job, and my parents trusted me, and also worried.
My girls are 15 and 17 now and I have already encouraged their independance in terms of travel. i.e. T-in-the -park, Edin-London, hostels for a few nights, red eye bus trip, etc. All character building stuff, life experience, with risk included as in all aspects of life. And I trust them and I worry, always will I should think.

I see you're ok about the trip as a flight which is good (some parents would not even allow that), please don't get hung up on the Paris bit as you will fall out over it.
MissyMoo above said it too...

chocoluvva Thu 18-Apr-13 14:06:01

London is also horrendous for pickpockets.

Spread their money, passport, mobile, around - don't keep it all in one bag.

Give them a map of Paris with the British Embassy marked on it!

I think it sounds fine at 16. I went travelling around Malaysia at 16, it was fine.

If you're worried you could talk through what to do if she, for example, she misses her coach, looses her passport or has her money pickpocketed. You can't always avoid these setbacks, as long as she knows what to do she'll be ok.

I would buy her an airline ticket.
She can have more exciting adventures when she is older.

Seriously, I wonder how many of those urging you to agree actually have 16 year old daughters. Most seem to be giving advice based on their own 16 year year old selves.

CarpeVinum Thu 18-Apr-13 16:19:38

Oh god the bus is crap!

Pre Sleazyjet I came to live in Italy on the London-Milan bus.

What a fecking NIGHTMARE!

My bum hurt, my legs were all half dead and pins and needley. Snoring, farting people kept me awake all night. The service stations had crap expensive ineeible food and don't even adk me about the coffee. Liquid shit at the price of melted gold.

That was 18 years ago and I can still remember all the details of uncomfortable, interminible and mind boggling boring the jouney was. We arrived in Milan at 6am to add insult to injury. I am just not built to be putside when the birds start squarking.

It buggered up my sleep patterns for two weeks cos I crashed by 11am and didn't wake up again until midnight.

Fuck Paris. It just isn't worth the horriblenss of the bus.

LadyBeagleEyes Thu 18-Apr-13 16:23:27

Skybore, you're travel experiences sound eerily similar to mine.
I did almost the same as you did, and ds has done the whole T in the park thing.
The old Yugoslavia strikes a chord, it was on the way to Greece.

TheSecondComing Thu 18-Apr-13 16:24:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

awaynboilyurheid Thu 18-Apr-13 16:30:02

I agreesecret would def not allow my 16 year old go on her own and I have daughters older than that have been to Paris with them in recent years and they get a lot of attention even with mum in tow! so def not , however you would need to convince her that its her idea not to want to go by bus and not you putting her off, in some way could'nt you make out airline travel more glamorous more likely to see celebs at airport than on a bus etc that might appeal more to 16 year old good luck !

complexnumber Thu 18-Apr-13 16:40:55

I think the OP seems to be getting a really hard time here from some posters.

(Is it because he isn't a mum?)

Lueji Thu 18-Apr-13 16:41:13

If she is going with a friend, I would let her go, but it would depend on their maturity.

I hope she enjoys Portugal. smile biased

Gerrof Thu 18-Apr-13 16:43:14

<sigh> at the thought of the Irish guy with the big willy.

TSC which Irish guy? How big? How do you know?

TheSecondComing Thu 18-Apr-13 17:07:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 18-Apr-13 17:08:21

Liam Neeson?

Skybore Thu 18-Apr-13 17:13:15

Ha! I just got it, was called taken with Liam Neeson right?

Toots7, you say her mum doesn't seem to mind how she travels and seems unconcerned. I think that outwardly to some I might also seem unconcerned when my DD's travel but I do worry and I am concerned. But I trust them to make the right decisions too, and credit them with common sense.

That said, age is just a number and I don't know your daughter. Through my work I've met some very immature 18 and 19 year olds, havent we all?

If my kids get pickpocketed, well, so would I if I'd been in their place because that's bad luck whatever measures you try to take. It's how they deal with the consequences that matters, whether it's stolen wallet, lost passport, missed flight/train/bus, get lost, get chatted up, and so on.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Thu 18-Apr-13 17:23:48

Let her go. It's Europe, not the back of beyond! What's the worst that can happen? She misses a connecting bus and gets the next one? She needs to spend the night in Paris and so finds a hotel? I think it's great that your daughter is so confident and independent that she wants to do this. You should be proud of her.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Thu 18-Apr-13 17:31:49

5foot5 - just to show the other side of the debate, I've lived and worked all over the world, London, Madrid, the US, India, went off on a gap year to the far east at 18 - you get the picture. I have never been mugged, never had my passport stolen, never been abducted.

This is Paris - not Kabul, not Johannesburg! Stop scare mongering! Agreed, you've been unlucky but this is not the experience of the vast majority of people.

hellsbells76 Thu 18-Apr-13 17:44:12

I don't think it's got anything to do with him 'not being a mum' - I've certainly seen plenty of overprotective mothers get similar short shrift or worse on here (remember the one who wouldn't let her teenage DS get the bus to a diving club in the same town?)

AmberLeaf Thu 18-Apr-13 18:16:46

I agree complexnumber.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 18-Apr-13 18:37:03

I think whenever she does something like this for the first time it is going to be worrying for you. If she is a mature sensible 16 year old I would let her do it, but still worry that is the lot of a parent. Actually Paris is probably one of the least bad places to start think of my own trip behind the iron curtain to Moscow and then overnight sleeper train the St Petersburg (or Leingrad as it was then) at the age of 16.
I first travelled to Paris alone on the old Victoria to Paris boat train so changing at Newhaven and Dieppe when I was 13. I'm sure my parents were terrified.

WorrySighWorrySigh Thu 18-Apr-13 19:00:15

Have you and she researched the route? Why not do this together and look at where there might be problems and discuss those and how to deal with them?

Talking through the details will help you and her actually quantify the journey and may help her decide whether she wants to travel by coach.

MaryRobinson Thu 18-Apr-13 19:04:31

OP can you give some examples of things she currently does and examples of her general maturity?

exoticfruits Thu 18-Apr-13 19:54:40

I wouldn't call a coach trip in Europe, with one change, a more exciting adventure, secretswirrels, my reasoning for doing it was that she would be confident with the more exciting adventures she can have, as an adult in just over 12 months time.

cees Thu 18-Apr-13 20:37:09

Judging by what I'd get up at 16 and with a friend in tow, er no not a hope would my daughter be allowed to get the coach. Direct flight would be her only option in this house.

BMW6 Thu 18-Apr-13 20:45:52

Going against the majority here - I'd go for the direct flight. I'd be worried to death otherwise.

mylot Thu 18-Apr-13 20:58:59

Depends on her. I would have been able to change coaches and stay out of trouble. Some wouldn't.

Slipshodsibyl Thu 18-Apr-13 21:25:33

It's reasonable to request that she waits another year or so to travel independently . Suggest to her that the two of you visit Paris for a weekend together? My daughters have grown up in a number if countries and travel to and from boarding school but I wouldn't be happy with this just yet, even though she will probably be fine.

jollygoose Thu 18-Apr-13 22:14:21

my mate and I won a short break in Paris when I was 16, we went by train and had wonderful time. We stayed in the attic of a guest house where I saw a bidet for the first time, however was unable to use it as the landlady kept all her pats of butter around the inside rim. We weremost amused.

exoticfruits Thu 18-Apr-13 22:38:58

It isn't about you BMW6. If everyone took that view their DCs would never do anything- they would be safe, but it isn't a life.

exoticfruits Thu 18-Apr-13 22:41:41

It seems utter madness to stop them doing a perfectly reasonable thing like take a coach journey with one change and about 18 months later they are an adult and can do anything if they have the money. I would prefer to let go gradually.

toots7 Fri 19-Apr-13 02:10:26

Thank you. ...eldritch and 5foot5.... started to feel controlling and not wanting my daughter to grow-up, , leave the nest etc.....everybody has given me food for thought, but alas I still fall on the side of caution........if I was controlling surely my question would be SHOULD I let/allow my daughter to even GO in the first place.

toots7 Fri 19-Apr-13 02:20:21


sashh Fri 19-Apr-13 02:33:41

I have relatives whose friends moved to southern France. From about the age of 12 friends and relatives kids would do the journey, usually in pairs and cottoned on that if they feigned sea sickness they got a cabin on the ferry.

Having said that research where the coach station is, it could well be 10 miles outside Paris and the only thing she will see is a load of coaches.

Also talk to her about sleep, it's a long journey will she be able to sleep? How will she keep her money safe etc etc.

At 16 I flew for the first time, to Australia. My mother believed I could just sit on the same plane in the same seat.

Er no

There was a stop in Bahrain, except we couldn't land because of a sand storm so they diverted us to an airstrip in the desert, with no facilities, so we sat on a plane for 7 hours with no air con.

The plane I was on was going to Sydney so I had to change planes at Singapore.

Except my connection had obviously gone so the airline diverted a Melbourne flight to get us to Perth.

16 year olds deal with more at school and on public transport / visiting friends than most people realise. She will be with a friend, as long as they have an ounce of common sense they will be fine.

They will also be able to update facebook by phone every few hours.

NetworkGuy Fri 19-Apr-13 02:57:45

Have you actually checked the kind of travelling times to see how much out of the holiday will actually be spent on coaches from UK to Paris, then all the way down through rance and across Spain. If it's 2-3 days each way, then I hope they're going for 3 weeks as they lose almost a week on travel. (I don't drive but know my sister and BiL who have a cottage in S W France, decided to stop for 2 nights on the 800+ mile journey from there home to Humberside, so it'd be helpful for anyone on the thread to know roughly how many hours each portion of trip will take. If someone gets sick when travelling, it makes for a very long and unpleasant journey not just for them...

Can see most have few qualms about it, and ignoring risk of pickpockets, wonder (realistically) where they may go in the time (how many hours?) between coaches ?

Worth seeing what the cost of travel within the Metro is - certainly for London one could spend plenty for a single with no Oyster card as the pricing seems very high even for short journeys.

Do they speak much French - or enough to say "Do you speak English?" at least? In case of a problem. I probably had fewer problems when in the Netherlands than in France, and last 5 trips away were trans-Atlantic because every year my memory of French gets rustier (over 30 years since my last visit).

Any idea what they'd expect to eat ? I won't stereotype the French as being snooty about non-French speakers, but even reading a menu may be daunting! Yes, yes, part of the experience, but nowadays I'd think twice about doing the 'touristy' thing without having studied a recent > Rough Guide < (the link goes to eating and drinking, since that's one positive thing about a break in the journey, but only if they can find somewhere affordable!)

chocoluvva Fri 19-Apr-13 11:16:56

If she's anything like my DD she will be likely to change her mind anyway.

Hold off with any 'demanding' unless you're absolutely sure of the situation IYSWIM. If you come down heavy-handed at an early stage she will be less likely to tell you about her plans in the future assuming that you'll disapprove of them.

Also, bear in mind that young women are less likely to be the victims of violence than young men.

flipchart Fri 19-Apr-13 11:20:35

Yes I would let my 16 year old DS do it because he is well travelled.
From an early age I have handed over tickets and bookings and told him to get us to our flight, accomdation etc ( with me over looking just in case)
I'm confident he would have the skills to get to Portugal by the method your DD wants to do!

ClearlyDad Fri 19-Apr-13 11:58:28

I travelled alone, unaccompanied, to Paris at 16 and stayed there for two weeks. I was fine.

I also backpacked and travelled to many other European destinations unaccompanied at about the same time.

My advantages were: lots of preparatory reading, skill and ability to speak foreign languages, and being a fairly large individual (rugby player). My disadvantage was then as now... I find risk "fun".

It's not about the journey, or the places... it's about whether your daughter is robust enough to go. Is she "tough/intelligent/streetwise", or is she "weak/thick/gullible"? The very fact that she's asking to travel like this points to the former and the fact that you should trust her. If you try to stop her you'll set up a situation where your otherwise sensible daughter starts trying to prove you wrong with a visit to a libertine club.

Tell her to take lots of photos to show you when she get's back!

5Foot5 Fri 19-Apr-13 13:15:03

This is Paris - not Kabul, not Johannesburg! Stop scare mongering! Agreed, you've been unlucky but this is not the experience of the vast majority of people.

Have you read any of the news reports in the last week or so about Louvre staff going on strike because the pickpocket situation is getting so bad now and the authorities are doing nothing about it?

flipchart Fri 19-Apr-13 13:20:22

People are building this journey up into something it's not! She is doing a coach transfer at Paris! Talk about panic. I would imagine she is not going to far from the station. She can get a bite to eat at the cafes t the bus station and then get back on the coach.

Whats the problem or shall we keep testing our young people as incapables? Give her some credit.

MoominmammasHandbag Fri 19-Apr-13 15:15:26

My 17 year old daughter has just got back from a week's Youth Hostelling in Berlin with her boyfriend. It was their first time abroad without parents and they are both a bit dizzy, but they had a great time.

I don't think you can really replicate the kind of confidence building a trip like that gives you.

CarpeVinum Fri 19-Apr-13 16:18:07

This is Paris - not Kabul, not Johannesburg! Stop scare mongering! Agreed, you've been unlucky but this is not the experience of the vast majority of people.

The risk of something ranging between not very nice<-------->really horrible happening is low. However there are additional risk factors to consider with a coach trip compared to an airplane ride.

Coach stations are not as well policed as airport, and in many cases in Europe, not as well as train station. As a result many of them can be a magnet for a more criminal or violent/impaired crowd. To that crowd people giving off a "tourist" vibe are what nectar is to bees. Young girls in particular would present as an easy mark.

My son speaks fluent Italian, and over my cold dead body will he be going near the London-Milan coach terminal at 15 years old unless in a big group or with an adult (or three). Day or night. I wouldn't go there willingly if I could avoid it. Despite speaking the language, despite knowing how to call the police and complain mightily, despite being a dab hand at running like the clappers and knowing the best direction to run in. Plus I can tell at first glance which cafè and shops to avoid even going in so I don't attract unwanted attention.

Everybody has to cut their teeth. An aeroplane trip would allow them to try out unaccompanied travel and find their sea legs as it were, in a relatively safe and controlled enviroment. A coach trip chucks up additional risks that has the small, but real, capsity to have their frist trip alone turn into something less than pleasant. It would be a pity if being so unprepared, so inexperienced left them wide open to a situation they were not well equiped to handle and left them reluctant to attempt a solo event again for a significant length of time. IMO it going by plane is like sticking on stabilizers the first time they get on a bike so they don't lose confidence thanks to the lowered risk of a nasty fall.

I think some people have this idea that Europe is all cuddly and safe. I've felt a lot less safe in certain places in Milan (including bus and coach stations) than I ever did wandering around BKK, especiallly since the eurocrisis hit and things started to get a bit less well policed and people a who were already not doing well, a tad more desperate.

Each to their own, it depends very much on the individual parent and child where the confort zone ends. But it would be outside of my own just based on how the situation today is casuing an increase in petty and not so crime, that is not always violence free, the decrease in visible policing due to cuts and the degree of inexperience of the traveller relative to the downsides of that particular mode of transport.

Cerisier Fri 19-Apr-13 16:30:58

I feel the same Carpe.

flipchart Fri 19-Apr-13 16:53:40

I don't think any countries in Europe could be classed as cuddly and safe.

However transferring from one coach and getting on another a couple of hours later is not a huge issue.
If she isn't well travelled of course you must warn her about befriending strangers etc but on the whole she will be sat having a brew and then getting on the next one. I'm sure she will have the sense to stay with her luggage.
If anyone comes near her and she feels uncomfortable she gets her stuff and moves somewhere else. Same rules as here!

CarpeVinum Fri 19-Apr-13 17:21:32

However transferring from one coach and getting on another a couple of hours later is not a huge issue.

Right up until the moment it is.

I've helped enough panicked tourists in my time (adults) who never expected their passprt and money to get nicked by a hoard of children, or have some blade happy git mug them, or just some unstable person follow them about yelling at them. Shit happens. Not to everybpdy, and most of the time even the shit that does happen is resolvable. But it does leave even adults shaken and a bit at sea as they lack the language and the knowledge needed to get help unless a willing English speaker just happens to be wandering by.

It takes about ten whole minutes for something to go tits up. Places where coaches and buses terminate/begin attract the elements more likely to be involved in ruining somebody's day.

I don't get it. Why the fixation with the girls being allowed to go by coach rather than plane ? They will still get to travel alone. They will still get to travel. They will spend a lot more time in the destination bearing in mind just how long the coach trip will take. And much of the actual travelling time by plane will allow them to get some solo experience under their belt in a relatively controlled enviroment.

I truely don't understand the need to constantly minimise the reality and additional risks associated with coach travel for two very young and inexperienced traveller and the insitance that an alternative form of transport (airplane) is a case of wrapping them in cotton wool and depriving them of the adventures of first time solo travel.

It is just cos it stops in Paris and people think Paris is so special that it is worth two days squashed on a coach with farty snorey people, moterway station food and being on the look out for whatever undesirables happen to be hanging around the coach terminus that day ?

Paris isn't going anywhere. It will still be available for a proper look another time. After all those hours on a coach just gone, and all the hours still to go, and the wieght of the bags they will have to lug with them, the chances are they won't get much out of seeing Paris in the time between connecting coaches to justify the duration and disconfort of the trip, let along the small, but real, additional risk related disadvantages associated with it.

WhitesandsofLuskentyre Fri 19-Apr-13 17:22:40

I have a 16-year-old DD, and I would totally trust her to travel on her own, but the advice I would give my own DD is that a couple of hours in transit through any city is not really "an adventure" - you need much longer. Otherwise it's a bit dispiriting. And also, if you're clock-watching, that's when you can let your guard down.

How about flying to Portugal, and coming back by coach? Even overnighting in Paris? I always remember my outbound journeys to Europe as a teen, on overnight ferries and overcrowded trains (including getting felt up by some sleazebag on a train in Germany) and the nerves I felt, but barely a thing about the return journeys, by which time I was feeling pretty relaxed.

flipchart Fri 19-Apr-13 17:55:54

Carpe I agree that a flight would be a better choice.

I hate going on a coach from Manchester to London and even fly there than get the National Express!
To go all the way to Portugal on one would drive me nuts.

adeucalione Fri 19-Apr-13 18:10:48

If everything is thoroughly researched and goes exactly to plan, she will be fine.

If something goes wrong she will probably be mature and sensible enough to deal with it appropriately, but why take the chance?

You have two options - a perfectly safe direct flight, or a very long coach journey that has the potential for disaster written all over it.

I would not stop my DC (similar age to your DD) from taking the coach, but I would do everything in my power to talk them out of it.

CarpeVinum Fri 19-Apr-13 18:17:47

Have you seen the price flip ?

85 blimming squid one way london-lisbon.

You can fly there for that.

It used to make sense to put up with things like 36 cramped sleepless hours with farty snorey people for the sake of the savings, but it seems there is little no real saving to be had over air travel these days.

I'm hard to pushed to work out what the advantage is that keeps the companies going.

Perhaps the "never actually having to leave the ground" bit ?

flipchart Fri 19-Apr-13 18:49:45

Hells teeth that's a lot for a sweaty coach.
They need to be looking at Easy Jet or Jet2.com.

In fact I have just got return flights from Manchester to Spain for £57!

Perhaps the op's DD might be better going to Malaga!

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 19:41:28

When you say she is 16yrs-how many months has she actually got before she is an adult and can travel off her own bat?

ElectricSheep Fri 19-Apr-13 20:08:58

FFS - It's not about letting go, being independent, controlling, preparing for adulthood etc

It's about other people - you know like the ones on Taken - the ones who can spot a naive 16 yr old at 100 paces. The ones who spin a credible line about how they've lost their wallet and could they just use her phone and once they've got it grab her. The ones who offer her a (spiked) drink or just offer to show her the sights and rape her on the way. Etc.

I'm not scaremongering, just realistic. Coach stations in major cities are magnets for this sort of chancer and there's NO way on earth I'd have let my 16yr old DD do this on her own without adult.

Direct flight or no go imho OP.

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 20:11:20

This is why I asked how many months until she was 18yrs when she is still just as naive but can travel in any way she wants, and is most likely living alone in a large city.

flipchart Fri 19-Apr-13 20:14:41

I suppose I seeing it from the perspective of my 16 year old son who has travelled abroad a lot ( with and with out us ) and is harder than I am in some cases. I have been known to go soft and talk to beggars and listen to sob stories while he will go ' mum, move on, don't listen! ' and then give me an ear bashing for being soft! As helikes to say ' not everyone is as good as you would like them to be! '

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 20:18:07

I think that my DSs are a lot less naive than me! I see the world through rosé tinted spectacles.

AngryGnome Fri 19-Apr-13 21:11:52

OP, is she your eldest? I think that makes a difference to your interpretation of risk. At 16 my parents wouldn't allow me to go into town alone - they paid for my little sister to go on a girls holiday to Tenerife when she was 16.

I completely understand your worry, but as other posters have said part of parenting teens is supporting them to grow into confident adults who can safely assess risk for themselves. Talk to her honestly about what your concerns are, how she can best protect herself etc. I would have thought she will respond far better to that sort of approach than a knee jerk ban on her going by coach.

(As an aside, I have no idea why she would want to go by coach - takes ages and far less comfortable than a flight!)

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