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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.

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!)

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.

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 20:11:20

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.

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 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?

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

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!

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 ?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

I feel the same Carpe.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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!

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!

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.

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!)

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.

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


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.

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