2x 18 yo girls backpacking/interrai
ling in Eastern Europe this summer- freaky-outy over-protective mother worries
DD1 and her friend (who both went into the Peruvian jungle last summer) are taking on Eastern Europe in August. They reckon they've absolutely nothing to worry about and that I'm being very over-protective. I'm freaking out slightly, trying to equip them with pepper spray and send them on self-defence courses etc...
Please help put my mind at rest! Is there anything they should avoid in your opinion, any recommendations etc... <whimper>
I would be more nervous of the jungle than Eastern Europe tbh. I have been to Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia etc and never thought of any of them being especially dangerous/hotbed of violent crime. What countries are they planning to visit?
I went inter-railing around France and Benelux at 18 without ever having so much as been out of Europe (I don't think I'd go to the Peruvian jungle now, and I'm 30!) - I went with my BFF and felt very safe. We stayed in hostels, did some cultural stuff but I seem to recall it was mainly about shopping, sitting out in cafes and generally feeling very grown-up and cntinental. We met some nice people and hung out with them a bit, but mainly kept ourselves to ourselves. We speak French, and a bit of German, which probably made us fel a bit more comfortable.
Eastern Europe is so much more of a known quantity now than it used to be - not a lot of difference now between backpacking the major cities and towns of EE and WE.
I'd set a couple of basic ground rules such as asking her to call/text/email you at regular intervals, let her know that she can always call you at any time if she ever feels threatened/panicked/confused, make sure you know what to do if she runs out of money, make sure you have a copy of her passport at home in case it gets lost/nicked (and get her to keep a copy in Google Docs or similar so she can always access it).
She'll be absolutely fine
Ask meant to say that you'll probably feel better too if you know she has comprehensive travel insurance, in case of theft/loss/minor injuries or similar, so make sure that's sorted.
They will be fine! There can be more pickpockets in some places (thinking of budapest and bucharest) so they should divide cash and cards so they don't get caught out. Also they should check out average taxi fares for routes they might use in advance. The only troubles I have had were taxi drivers trying to rip is off in Bosnia and Hungary. Also take Imodium if going to some of the less lovely locations as food can be a bit stomach churning!. Otherwise it's a great idea, cheap, full of history, diverse cultures, great scenery no more risky than a trip into any European city..
Thank guys, feeling a bit better for reading these...
first, leave the offensive weapons at home.
second, proper travel insurance is a MUST. It is invalidated if they are drunk. No insurance, no holiday.
third, they are the biggest contributors to their safety; bloodstreams not full of booze, ears empty of earphones, eyes looking not glued to smartphones, general common sense.
I would definitely buy them an ultrasonic dog deterrent. Lots of stray dogs in Easten Europe, I am not scared of dogs, but hmmmm, I was terrified .
Thank you so much again! It turns out that DS is also going interrailing independently with some university friends so there's a chance they might meet up somewhere along the way.
Good point re alcohol. DD doesn't drink (at all- she hates it and is always the person helping boringly drunk friends home) but I don't know about her friend. Also thank you for tip about dogs. I imagine that rabies is still rife (although both girls were vaccinated to the nines including against rabies last year so that is a weight off my mind).
the rabies vaccine only gives you more time to get to the doctor. I wouldn't say rabies is 'rife' in Europe but it is there. No-one should go near any mammal they don't know well, so that means tourists don't go near any.
your daughter needs to keep an eye on her drink to make sure it isn't spiked, and do a deal with her mate so the latter doesn't get incapable.
I interrailed around Europe (8 countries of it anyway) with a friend when we were both 16 for a month. Like the others have said - common sense helps! We had some notes stuffed down our bras in case everything got stolen (it didn't) and we had a pact that if we were offered food or drink in any situation that wasn't 100% safe only one of us would take it. Likewise, we didn't drink to excess and took care with who we were alone with.
If we were asleep, our rucksacks were either clipped onto something or under us - which saved me losing mine on a late night Italian train once. In hostels we slept with our valuables under our pillow if there wasn't a safe.
We had a brilliant time, enjoyed ourselves immensely and came back with a tan and loads of stories, and I'm sure your daughter will have a great time too!
Bookmarking thread as my eldest is inter railing in the summer with a mate. I'm sure it'll be fine, but she can be a bit.... blonde (don't shoot me, she IS blonde, has a brain the size of a small planet but I think it's all taken up with ancient history not where her house keys are and how not to get locked in the house before an exam!) .... at times .
I too am sure they'll be fine. The only thing I would add (as someone who did a lot of traveling around with my BGF - we both looked very very young) is to be wary if they meet some nice boys and the boys in question try to split them up. This happened to my friend and me and although the boys were more accurately described as men - it was one of those 'near miss' situations. We had a great time on the whole but this occasion felt a bit pre-meditated and in hindsight I think we would have been wiser to make an agreement not to leave each other.
Both need proper paid up smart phones. I would ask for the "find friends" app so u could find the phones. Being 18 they won't leave them alone. That way email text phone is always hopefully possible.
not smartphones, cost a fortune and likely to be lost, also targets for mugging. Just ordinary mobiles that send texts and make phone calls.
Thanks everyone! This is quite a hard bit of parenting, forget all the not sleeping when they are small bits!
which countries/cities are they planning to visit?
I've heard mention of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary.
if they were planning to visit Poland I could give them some tips
DD is doing a 3-week stint in the Czech republic as an English tutor to a little girl early in July, while her friend "does" Poland by herself so any Polish tips could still be very handy!
she should try to visit the following cities - Krakow and stay in Kazimierz, which is very cool now, a Jewish quarter
apart from visiing the Wawel caste and numerous churches she may want to visit www.oskarschindlersfactory.com/
a must see in Krakow is this museum with a painting by leonardo da Vinci
take trip to Wieliczka - world heritge salt mine
take tram to Nowa Huta which was build just after www to balance out middle class old town of Krakow
take a 2-3 day trip towards the South - amazing termal spa in Bukowina tatrzanska www.termabukowina.pl/
then go for this trip www.splyw-dunajcem.com/
when she is in Pieniny National Park I would suggest going for a walk in Szczawnica to see the park and try mineral waters which are available to try (some are vile, but others just a bit salty)
I think if she likes walking she should take a lift up using
then take a walk all the way to Jaworek and down to the bus stop (she woudl need good trainers there and going down is mainly rocks)
from Krakow she should take a trip to this National Park (public transport available by bus to Ojcow) to www.ojcowskiparknarodowy.pl/ - she may use one of those companies though www.ojcow.pl/english/index_1_en.htm as she will be taken around and may bo on a bike ride or even try climbing
It is lovely area with caves and very interesting nature.
There are trips to Oswiecim from Krakow, the concentration camp but she can get there by herself as well
From Krakow she can take train to Warsaw, lots there to see there.
She should try to get to
Further North she should see
biggest medieval castle in Europe
then spend few days in Gdansk which is rich in history and culture
from there she could even get a day trip to Kaliningrad
another city worth visiting is now very modern but a very old city of Wroclaw
must see is - www.panoramaraclawicka.pl/
when they are in Slovakia they must go to see
(unless one of them suffers from vertigo that is )
Slovakian Tatras are lovely too.
travel by trains in Poland is cheap and fast, usually she can get a ticket on the day for fast trains
public transport in cities - crowded and slow
intercity buses - not many left in operation
I travelled around India on my own, aged 18. I was fine because I was invincible (aka stupid but lucky), but I learned a lot about myself (don't be stupid in the future) and it was an amazing experience. I can't imagine how it feels when it's your DD getting on the plane though - a few years before I get that joy in the parenting journey. She will be fine, but I totally appreciate your fears!
Off to Krakow with the family for our hold this year so thanks for the tips,
Have visited Wroclaw and loved it
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